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Author Topic:   Astronauts who smoke (or smoked) cigarettes
Paul78zephyr
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posted 08-10-2006 12:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I know that during the early space era, most adults smoked cigarettes. It was considered 'macho.'

But the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts were supposedly a most "physically fit" and well educated group of men. I (somewhat surprised) read in Scott Carpenter's autobiography that he was a heavy smoker, although he was reported to be in the best physical health of all the astronauts.

So which Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts smoked (or conversely did NOT smoke) or quit long before the Surgeon General's warning? Were any of them asked, or told, to quit for health reasons? Did the flight surgeons/doctors recommend to the smokers that they quit?

413 is in
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posted 08-10-2006 01:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 413 is in   Click Here to Email 413 is in     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Answers to many of your questions (and much more) can be found at: Medical History of Spacefarers.

KC Stoever
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posted 08-10-2006 05:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've seen that table before. Interesting but not well sourced or researched, with some inaccuracies as a result.

Glenn on occasion smoked kinnikinnick, according to Carpenter. It's also called bearberry, and the Indians used to smoke the bark, or mix dried bark with tobacco and smoke that.

Schirra was the heaviest smoker of the Seven, don't know what brand. That table linked above says he quit for the program and that's not accurate. Similarly, the table claims that Carpenter also quit. But he, like Schirra, was truly addicted to nicotine, and was able to quit with difficulty and then only for training purposes, Mercury and Sealab. He quit for good in 1985.

I don't know where one would get the idea that Carpenter was a heavy smoker.

It was just a pack of unfiltered Camels a day. Max. Sheesh.

spacecraft films
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posted 08-10-2006 08:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spacecraft films   Click Here to Email spacecraft films     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ok. I have a little admission to make here.

Smoking is one of the things I dislike the most... both of my parents smoked and I never tried it, ever. I just never got why you would want to do that.

Well, knowing that our products would be viewed by children, I must admit to systematically editing out shots of astronauts smoking in the early years... including several shots of Carpenter smoking right after his flight.

I have also edited at least two shots I can remember of astronauts undergoing physicals where the doctor had a cigarette hanging out of his mouth!

We go above and beyond in accuracy, but I just didn't think we'd lose anything by removing the smoking, as I do believe that if no one smoked in movies and television it would go a long way to diminishing the taking up of smoking by youth.

I think Wally's brand was Tarleton, as there is still a shot of him going onto a boat on the Mercury set with a cigarette and a pack of Tarleton (I think) in his hand.

Paul78zephyr
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posted 08-10-2006 10:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by KC Stoever:
I don't know where one would get the idea that Carpenter was a heavy smoker.
I read it in a book. Something called For Spacious Skies I think.

413 is in
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posted 08-11-2006 03:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for 413 is in   Click Here to Email 413 is in     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by FutureAstronaut:
Wally did smoke Tareyton. That's what Gordo put in his capsule!
True. However, by the time of Gordo's flight, Schirra can be seen smoking Winston's as he was in training as CapCom (ref. NASA photo S-63-6146 detail below).

This begs the question, did Wally really "rather fight than switch"?

mark plas
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posted 08-11-2006 05:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mark plas   Click Here to Email mark plas     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Did Pete Conrad smoke?

mjanovec
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posted 08-11-2006 08:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by spacecraft films:
I think Wally's brand was Tarleton, as there is still a shot of him going onto a boat on the Mercury set with a cigarette and a pack of Tarleton (I think) in his hand.
When this thread started, the first thing I thought of was the footage that showed Wally going on the boat from your Mercury DVD set!

DavidH
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posted 08-11-2006 09:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidH   Click Here to Email DavidH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When going through some Skylab photos recently, I came across one of someone working with flight hardware with a cigarette dangling from his mouth.

Doubt that happens much these days.

KC Stoever
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posted 08-11-2006 10:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Funny. I just remembered a scene from my parents' courtship — recounted to me by my mom — that I was never able to work into "For Spacious Skies."

After more than two years in the US Navy's V12a program for aviation cadets and back in Boulder on the GI Bill, a young Scott Carpenter had picked up the then-elegant habit of cigarette smoking.

Silver-screen heroes smoked. Sailors smoked. Cowboys smoked. Tough guys smoked. Playboys smoked. And veterans smoked.

So, waiting for Rene in the Prices' living room on Grant Street in Boulder, Carpenter lights up. He has on a nice wool sports jacket that his father bought him in New York. He leans a shoulder against the mantle, waiting for Rene to appear downstairs, inhales, and releases a plume of smoke, fastidiously picking a bit of tobacco from his tongue. (The downside of unfiltered cigarettes.)

"Oh, Scott," Rene's mother observed slyly, "You are the world's — last — aristocrat." Scott smiled. He was being teased.

Blackarrow
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posted 08-11-2006 07:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I remember seeing Ed Mitchell smoking in 2000, although I believe he has stopped since then.

Paul78zephyr
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posted 08-11-2006 08:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think my aim in starting this thread was to fully understand and illuminate how under the conditions of being the 'best of the best', physically and mentally, that many of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts were still smokers. I think perhaps part of the 'Right Stuff', back then, was to be a smoker and do the other things...

I found the chart that was a link in one of the reply posts to be interesting (assuming the data is correct) in that almost all the Mercury astronauts smoked while most of the Gemini and Apollo guys did not. Things were changing...?

kyra
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posted 08-12-2006 10:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for kyra   Click Here to Email kyra     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To take the topic (a little astray but a bit further) What about smoking in orbit? The Mir is the first documented example of this, although any of the Salyut series could be suspect. (See Dragonfly) Exactly how they managed this with all the smoke detectors will be left to a point of imagination. Think of where everyone hid to smoke in high school... There's even a song about it.

Naraht
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posted 08-12-2006 10:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Naraht   Click Here to Email Naraht     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Paul78zephyr:
So which Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts smoked (or conversely did NOT smoke) or quit long before the Surgeon General's warning? Where any of them asked, or told, to quit for health reasons? Did the flight surgeons/doctors recommend to the smokers that they quit?
According to his autobiography, Michael Collins quit smoking, I think during the 60s. Unfortunately my copy is currently with a friend, so I can't check his reasons for quitting, but I know that he said he felt a lot healthier afterwards.

KC Stoever
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posted 08-12-2006 12:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Speaking of historic footage, I was watching the Spacecraft Films 1959 press conference along with Carpenter a few weeks ago. We watched perhaps ten minutes of it.

While watching it, I specifically asked Carpenter what the cigarette-smoking etiquette was at the time. Because at first, I didn't see anyone smoking, and this suprised me because I recalled historic footage of the McCarthy hearings in the U.S. Senate from a few years before, which shows ~everyone~ puffing away, with ashtrays everywhere.

Carpenter, trying to remember the times, offered that no, it wouldn't "have been right" to smoke under those circumstances. Then, sure enough, as the camera pans down the dais, there's Wally with a cigarette. I also recall a couple of NASA administrators with cigarettes in hand too. Gilruth, I think. Can't remember if any other astronauts smoked in that footage. Deke was a smoker. Deke, Scott, and Wally for sure, and in fact Wally's throat polyps, the ones that nearly got him disqualified at Lovelace, were thought to be caused by his smoking. He had to have emergency throat surgery in order to qualify "without medical reservation."

Anyway, to answer Paul's original question, Carpenter had by 1959 (and certainly by 1962) been told that smoking was bad for one's health. But he was told by Dr. Bill Douglas, Project Mercury flight surgeon, himself a smoker, IIRC.

Anyway, everyone knew cigarettes could kill you anecdotally. Then the evidence (e.g., emphysema, cancer) became irrefutable.

Addicts, however, have their own logic.

spacecraft films
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posted 08-12-2006 12:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spacecraft films   Click Here to Email spacecraft films     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I didn't *destroy* the footage. I just elected not to put it on our sets. We're not talking about a lot of shots here, and not every appearance of smoking. Only when it wasn't essential to the subject at hand, particularly right before or after a flight, or during a physical when the physician was smoking. We edit shots for other reasons as well - not everything can go onto the sets.

The footage with those couple of extra shots is still there for whoever wants to go get it, and we paid for making new digital transfers of it, just didn't use it in the final cut.

spacecraft films
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posted 08-12-2006 01:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spacecraft films   Click Here to Email spacecraft films     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On the Apollo 13 DVD set, Deke is smoking through an entire news conference. Little brown extra-long cigarettes.

And naturally on other sets Mission Control is lighting up all over the place - especially at splashdown.

KC Stoever
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posted 08-12-2006 02:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I remember that brand Deke is smoking for Apollo 13. A brand called More. Don't remember the manufacturer.

ejectr
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posted 08-12-2006 06:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When the Beatle's movie "Hard Day's Night" was made in 1964, they also decided to not include smoking scene's even though all the Beatles smoked. Too many vulnerable young minds would be watching. The only smoking scene was during Ringo's walk about (where he was actually walking off a hangover from coming to the set straight from a night out at the clubs, per his own admittance in The Beatles Anthology).

I don't think that this decision destroyed the movie no more than it destroyed what you put together.

KC Stoever
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posted 08-12-2006 07:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I didn't know that about "Hard Day's Night." This same editorial judgment appears to have informed Gray. I can't think the man intended to censor important visual content. You have a lot of footage, not all of it historically interesting or important.

You make choices as an editor, especially when you're dealing with images of historic role models sucking back smoke-borne nicotine as fast as they can--and you know young people will be watching your DVD.

I see now some potential for a commercial DVD. "Astronauts SMOKING." The unexpurgated version.

KC Stoever
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posted 08-14-2006 01:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for KC Stoever   Click Here to Email KC Stoever     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just an update, as I'm watching the 1959 Mercury Seven selection press conference.

During the introductions, in the first minute or so, it looks like Al Shepard is smoking. He reaches across to an ashtray in front of Wally Schirra to knock ashes off.

Next to light up is Wally, during the first question. Wally plays with a Zippo lighter throughout the presser.

Deke is the next shown with a cigarette... that's all I saw from a snippet of time.

Naraht
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posted 08-14-2006 03:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Naraht   Click Here to Email Naraht     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Most flight controllers seem to have smoked during the 60s too. For example...
  • Chris Kraft: smoked cigars... according to an old New York times profile, one after every meal, and six or seven a day during a mission
  • Gene Kranz: smoked cigarettes, and the traditional cigar during splashdown
  • Glynn Lunney: smoked cigars at least occasionally, I'm not sure about cigarettes
  • Sy Liebergot: smoked a pipe
  • Jay Greene: smoked a pipe, and cigarettes from time to time
  • Steve Bales: smoked cigarettes
I'm not sure that I can think of anyone who definitely *didn't* smoke. But then, I'm doing this off the top of my head...

John Aaron with ashtray in foreground

Obviously, smoking was still allowed in the MOCR during the mid-eighties.

FutureAstronaut
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posted 08-14-2006 06:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FutureAstronaut   Click Here to Email FutureAstronaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It might sound like a stupid question, and the answer is probably no, but are any mission control people allowed to smoke at work? It is probably illegal, but I don't know the public smoking laws in Texas.

Does anyone know which of the guys today smoke?

mjanovec
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posted 08-14-2006 08:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think it was Sy, during his commentary on the Apollo 13 DVD set, who mentioned that Chris Kraft always bought the cheapest cigars he could find for the splashdown celebration. I got a kick out of that!

Naraht
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posted 08-15-2006 03:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Naraht   Click Here to Email Naraht     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by FutureAstronaut:
It might sound like a stupid question, and the answer is probably no, but are any mission control people allowed to smoke at work?
They're not allowed to anymore. In one of the JSC Oral Histories, someone discusses the huge kerfuffle that happened when smoking was finally banned in mission control, and how upset everyone was. I've been looking for that oral history ever since this thread was started, but I can't for the life of me remember which one it was! Alas.

Paul78zephyr
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posted 09-02-2006 11:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think I have finally figured out why Wally Schirra was so irritable on Apollo 7. By all accounts he was a heavy smoker. He had been in space without a nicotine fix for over 10 days. As a former smoker I know what nicotine withdrawal can do. On his previous flights his time without nicotine was much shorter (M8: 9hrs, G6A: 26hrs). Nicotine withdrawal is very serious. The head cold did not help either but the nicotine withdrawal is key. It has never been discussed and I'm sure I know why.

FFrench
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posted 09-03-2006 12:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
An interesting theory Paul, except:
  • in his autobiography, Schirra explains that he gave up smoking starting in January 1968.

  • what others saw as irritation, Schirra saw (and sees) as asserting his rightful place as commander, and insisting on no unnecessary changes to an agreed flight plan. Not everyone agreed with him, but the events can be explained based on this differing point of view.
As an aside, this "Reservoir Dogs" NASA image of six Mercury astronauts at the Convair plant in San Diego also shows Schirra smoking.

Paul78zephyr
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posted 09-03-2006 08:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well he may have said he quit but I know from personal experience it is VERY difficult to do. For him to quit in 1968 when everyone around him still smoked must have been a huge act of will power. Has his quitting smoking in Jan 1968 been verified by anyone that knew him personally?

spacecraft films
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posted 09-05-2006 06:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spacecraft films   Click Here to Email spacecraft films     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ok, to add a little to this...

I'm sitting here working on the X-15 set, and not two minutes after Crossfield gets out of the X-15 after the first powered flight he's shaking hands with folks with a cigarette dangling from his lips...

And it will be left in the set (for those who were wondering).

mjanovec
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posted 09-05-2006 07:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mjanovec   Click Here to Email mjanovec     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wonder when Crossfield quit smoking (assuming he did quit). Some guys are lucky (genetically speaking)...Crossfield lived into his 80s and didn't even die from natural causes. My grandfather smoked for nearly 50 years until he quit about 20 years ago. He'll be celebrating his 90th birthday next month. I hope I inherited whatever genes that have helped him live so long.

Can't wait for that X-15 set!

FFrench
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posted 09-13-2006 10:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is a shot of Schirra smoking:

kosmonavtka
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posted 01-09-2007 01:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kosmonavtka     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It seems that some cosmonauts also still smoke: Yuri Malenchenko at USSR Airspace.

I hate seeing people destroy their health!

Peg Purser
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posted 01-09-2007 04:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Peg Purser   Click Here to Email Peg Purser     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by KC Stoever:
I also recall a couple of NASA administrators with cigarettes in hand too. Gilruth, I think.
If Paul Purser was on the dais, and I think he was, you can bet he was one of the smokers -- at least 2-3 packs a day till the mid-80s. Rarely saw him without a cigarette. Vaguely remember Gilruth smoking, but not 100% sure. Paul died of emphysema in 2003.

FFrench
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posted 05-26-2007 09:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's another image, of Tom Stafford, taken immediately after the Gemini 6 flight...

...plus Al Worden after Apollo 15.

E2M Lem Man
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posted 05-29-2007 01:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for E2M Lem Man     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It was the fashion of the time. I was looking at the Gemini 7/6 mission report booklet and the last two pages are mission control with the celebratory cigars with Chris Kraft and Gilruth lighting up and Gordon Cooper leading the revelry. How times have changed!

astropl
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posted 05-30-2007 01:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for astropl   Click Here to Email astropl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by kosmonavtka:
It seems that some cosmonauts also still smoke...
And here is Vladimir Kovalonok's "last smoke" before Soyuz-25 launch.

Ashy
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posted 06-03-2007 02:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ashy   Click Here to Email Ashy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I remember seeing a photo somewhere, from the early 70's of a gathering of astronauts and cosmonauts. In it you can see both Pete Conrad and Jim McDivitt with cigarettes. I've also seen film footage and photographs of John Young smoking a pipe and cigarettes.

Jay Chladek
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posted 09-09-2007 10:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The only one of the Mercury astronauts who didn't smoke that I know of was Cooper. The special edition of "The Right Stuff" has an interview with Gordo on the special features disk (possibly one of the very last TV interviews he gave before his death). On it, he talks about how he was the only one of the Mercury Seven who didn't smoke and as a result, he apparently had the lowest oxygen consumption figures of all the Mercury astronauts on his flight (according to him anyway). If that isn't a statement about the benefits of not smoking, I don't know what is.

webhamster
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posted 08-31-2009 11:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for webhamster     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was searching for something else when this old thread caught my eye as a reformed smoker (9 months today).

Just thought I'd add that I recall reading that Elliot See was moved into the command of Gemini 9 because he was a heavy smoker and there was concern about his ability to conduct the strenuous spacewalk that was planned for Gemini 8 (where his rotation from GT-5 backup would have landed him).

Mike Isbell
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posted 09-01-2009 07:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Isbell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I saw Ron Evans and Al Worden smoking at an event in 1986 in Washington, DC. Walter Cunningham said that he smoked and quit smoking prior to his selection as an an astronaut. In 2001 Richard Gordon said that he gave up smoking 9 years earlier.


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