Leonard Cohen Announces “I intend to go back to [smoking] shortly” – In 1974

You know why I really stopped smoking? I had a rival – not a rival for anyone’s hand or anyone’s love. It was just someone who saw me in a comparative way and forced me to look at him that way. And he didn’t smoke. And I said to myself, ‘If he can do it, then you can do it.’ But I think it’s [smoking is] wonderful… I love the smell of it – the associations of the stylistic possibilities. I intend to go back to it shortly.quotedown2

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen & Smoking

Smoking was a long term issue with Leonard Cohen. The above excerpt from Leonard Cohen Looks at Himself by Danny Field (Soho Weekly News, Vol. 1, #9. Dec 5, 1974) is only the latest addition to Cohencentric’s category. Current fans may be familiar with Leonard’s more recent version of the “go[ing] back to smoking” declaration: his “start smoking again at 80” stage shtick, which itself led to the below photo and its caption, “Leonard Cohen enjoying his first (and last) cigarette on the occasion of his 80th birthday,” from the booklet accompanying the Leonard Cohen Can’t Forget album.

"Leonard Cohen enjoying his first (and last) cigarette on the occasion of his 80th birthday" from the Can't Forget album booklet

And there’s more. For example, Everybody Knows, a Leonard Cohen song1 delivered in his famously deep, raspy voice, the final result, as Cohen himself puts it, of “about 500 tons of whiskey and millions of cigarettes,” was chosen as the music for a major anti-smoking ad. Cigarettes, once an obligatory accoutrement for Cohen, were apparently vanquished in 2003 when he quit smoking on doctor’s advice.2 And, of course, several records feature cover art with Leonard smoking.


  1. Authorship of Everybody Knows, first released in 1988 on Cohen’s I’m Your Man album, is co-credited to Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson []
  2. He Has Tried in His Way to Be Free by Sarah Hampson. Shambhala Sun: Nov 2007 []