Smoking & cigarettes

One of James Bond’s greatest pleasures is cigarettes and he usually smokes sixty per day of a special Balkan and Turkish mixture with three gold bands. The cigarettes are specially made for him by Morland’s and carried in a wide, thin cigarette case of black gunmetal that can hold fifty; even in smoking James Bond knows exactly what he wants.

Morland cigarettes: the triple gold bands

Fleming smoked similar cigarettes, initially with a single gold band, adding two more when he was promoted to the rank of Commander in Naval Intelligence – the rank is signified by three gold stripes on the cuff. James Bond’s lighter is a battered black oxidized Ronson to compliment his gunmetal cigarette case, which he carries in his right-hand hip pocket.

With just a few exceptions Bond’s smoking remains consistently heavy throughout the books. In the first chapter of Casino Royale he lights his seventieth cigarette of the day; in From Russia, With Love we are privy to the SMERSH file on Bond, which notes his heavy smoking and distinctive cigarettes; and a report by the secret service Medical Officer in Thunderball comments on his smoking sixty a day and notes that his Morland cigarettes were of a much higher nicotine content that cheaper brands.

Local brands smoked by 007

However, while working abroad Bond smokes local brands once his Morlands’ have run out, such as Chesterfield in the US and Royal Blend in the West Indies. And there are a number of occasions when he deliberately cuts down, even dropping his favoured cigarettes for health reasons briefly (also see Other James Bond Cigarette Brands).

In Live And Let Die, before going against Mr Big, James Bond gives up alcohol and cuts down to ten a day while training under Quarrel; although he goes through the same fitness routine in Doctor No prior to sailing for Crab Key, Fleming doesn’t mention whether he cuts down on cigarettes on that occasion.

After the damning report from the Medical Officer in Thunderball M sends Bond to Shrublands to get him mission fit, where his cigarettes are confiscated. Following his return to London Bond eats more healthily and cuts down to ten a day; he also switches to Duke of Durham King-sized, which we learn are much lower in tar and nicotine than his customary Morland’s.

And in The Man With The Golden Gun we learn that he is trying to keep his cigarette consumption down to twenty after recovering from his brainwashing at the hands of the Russians, missing that target by five.

Smoking kills: but not always

Although smoking helped Ian Fleming to an early grave, Bond’s smoking habit did actually help save his life on a couple of occasions. When Grant shoots Bond as the Orient Express enters the Simplon tunnel Bond is saved by holding his cigarette case in between the pages of The Mask of Dimitrios (Eric Ambler) to absorb the bullet’s impact (also see article on the James Bond cigarette case).

The other occasion is when, after being captured by Dr No, he pockets a table lighter which he then puts to good effect while on the obstacle course designed by the villain to test his endurance and pain threshold.

Health Warning: I shouldn’t really need to remind you that smoking can seriously damage your health. This article is not intended to promote smoking simply because James Bond does; it’s your choice.
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