Cigarette holder

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Cigarette holder
Cigarette holder.png
TypeFashion accessory
MaterialSilver, jade, or plastic
Cleo Trumbo, wife of novelist Dalton Trumbo, smokes with a holder during House Un-American Activities Committee hearings in 1947

A cigarette holder is a fashion accessory, a slender tube in which a cigarette is held for smoking. Most frequently made of silver, jade or bakelite (popular in the past but now wholly replaced by modern plastics), cigarette holders were considered an essential part of ladies' fashion from the early 1910s through early to the mid 1970s.


The holder was also a practical accessory and served several purposes:

  • The primary use was to keep falling ash off of a woman's clothes, especially since women didn't wear smoking jackets. This is the reason for the long length, and for why the holders were longer for more formal occasions (which usually had more elaborate dress).
  • Kept side-stream smoke further from the smoker's eyes and out from under the lady's hat (which often had wider brims than men's hats).
  • Helped prevent nicotine staining of the fingers[1] and gloves.
  • Reduced staining of the teeth.
  • Kept the thin cigarette paper from sticking to, and tearing on, the smoker's lips.
  • Cooled and mellowed the smoke.
  • Holders sometimes encased a filter for taste and, later, for health reasons.
  • Before the advent of filtered cigarettes in the 1960s, the holder also helped keep tobacco flakes out of the smoker's mouth.



Cigarette holders range from the simplest single material constructs to incredibly ornate styles with complex inlays of metal and gemstones. Rarer examples of these can be found in enamel, horn, tortoiseshell, or more precious materials such as amber and ivory.

A similar holder made of wood, meerschaum or bakelite and with an amber mouthpiece was used for cigars and was a popular accessory for men from the Edwardian period until the 1920s.


As with evening gloves, ladies' cigarette holders are measured by four traditional formal standard lengths:

  • opera length, usually 16 to 20 inches/40 to 50 cm
  • theatre length, 10 to 14 inches/25 to 35 cm
  • dinner length, 4 to 6 inches/10 to 15 cm
  • cocktail length, which includes shorter holders[2][better source needed]

Traditionally, men's cigarette holders were no more than 4 inches long.[3]

Notable users[edit]

In Where There's Smoke There's Fire (ca. 1920s), Russell Patterson depicts a flapper whose cigarette holder is not only a fashion accessory, but an important element of the interplay of line in the drawing.

Well-known women who used cigarette holders include Audrey Hepburn,[4] Lucille Ball,[5] Jayne Mansfield,[6] Jacqueline Kennedy,[7] Rita Hayworth,[8] Princess Margaret,[9] Wendy Richard,[10] Madalena Barbosa, Natalie Wood, Louise Brooks, and Ayn Rand[citation needed]. Scarlett Johansson[11] is a contemporary example.

Among the best-known men who used cigarette holders were Franklin D. Roosevelt,[12] Enrico Caruso,[13] Vladimir Horowitz,[14] Ian Fleming,[15] Noël Coward,[16] Hunter S. Thompson (though he regarded his as only a filter),[17] Tennessee Williams,[18] Fulgencio Batista, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Josip Broz Tito,[19] and Hans von Bülow.

Cultural references[edit]

Holders can be seen in period films like Titanic, and are immortalized in films of the 1950s and 1960s. Holly Golightly, the naïve and eccentric café society girl in the iconic 1961 classic Breakfast at Tiffany's who is portrayed by Audrey Hepburn, is famously seen carrying an oversized cigarette holder; the image of Hepburn wearing the famous Givenchy little black dress, with the foot-long cigarette holder in her hand, is considered one of the most iconic images of 20th century American cinema.[20] Lucille Ball can be seen using one in certain episodes of I Love Lucy. In Troop Beverly Hills Shelly Long's character is seen throughout the movie using one. Cruella de Vil is seen using one repeatedly in the 1961 animated Disney film, One Hundred and One Dalmatians and in the 1996 remake portrayed by Glenn Close. Margo Lane (portrayed by Penelope Ann Miller) used one in The Shadow, as did Jade in Jonny Quest. Comedian Phyllis Diller had a stage persona which included holding a long cigarette holder from which she pretended to smoke (though she was a nonsmoker in real life).

Fictional Peter Pan character Captain Hook possessed a unique double-holder, which allowed him to smoke two cigars (not cigarettes) at once. Batman's nemesis The Penguin also commonly uses a cigarette holder in the comics and the 1960s television series, as well as in the live-action film Batman Returns. Edna Mode from The Incredibles franchise is often seen with an unlit cigarette holder.

Johnny Depp uses a cigarette holder in his role as Raoul Duke (alter ego of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson) in the film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. In cartoons, the Pink Panther, Colonel Sponsz from The Adventures of Tintin, and Jade from Jonny Quest use cigarette holders.

The lyrics to Satin Doll by Duke Ellington and the cover art of the album Badfinger feature a cigarette holder. The video to Into the Great Wide Open by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers features Faye Dunaway using her cigarette holder as a magic wand.

Rachel Menken, a character on the AMC series Mad Men, smokes cigarettes with a short holder.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Cigarette-Holder-FAQs". Retrieved 2019-02-17.
  2. ^ "Cigarette Holders, Cases, and Accessories". TheLadySmokes. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
  3. ^ History of Men's Fashion, Nicholas Storey, 2008, p93.
  4. ^ "Audrey Hepburn: A Biography" Warren G. Harris, 1994
  5. ^ "Smoke Screen: Stars Who Make Smoking an Art". Smoke Magazine, Fall 1997, Volume II, Issue 4. Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2011-08-05.
  6. ^ "Jayne Mansfield with cigarette holder". (Golden Age Hollywood image archive). Archived from the original on 2011-09-27.
  7. ^ "Jackie After Jack: Portrait of the Lady" Christopher Anderson, 1999
  8. ^ "Rita Hayworth". (database of 40s-era Hollywood star photography).
  9. ^ H.R.H.The Princess Margaret: A Life Unfulfilled, Nigel Dempster, 1981
  10. ^ "Wendy Richard interview"., 18 June 2006.
  11. ^ "Johansson (Female Celebrity Smoking List)". 2009-11-28. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
  12. ^ "FDR's cigarette holder". antique auctions site (expired auction still viewable).
  13. ^ Enrico Caruso: my father and my family, Dalton Trumbo, Enrico Caruso Jr and Andrew Farkas, 1990, page 374
  14. ^ Vanity Fair: photographs of an age, 1914-1936, 1982, p97
  15. ^ "Ian Fleming's Style". A Suitable Wardrobe, 19 April 2007.
  16. ^ Noel Coward: A Biography, Philip Hoare, 1995, p227
  17. ^ "The Hunter S. Thompson Interview". Freezerbox Magazine, Adam Bulger, 03.09.2004.
  18. ^ Tynan, William (1994-12-05). "THEATER: One Small, Unhappy Family". Time Magazine 5 Dec 1994.
  19. ^ "Yugoslavian PM, Marshal Tito, wearing his trademark military-styled..." Getty Images. Retrieved Oct 4, 2019.
  20. ^ Spoto, Donald. Enchantment: The Life of Audrey Hepburn. New York: Harmony Books, 2006. Page 203. ISBN 0-307-23758-3

External links[edit]