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Santa Claus Quits Smoking

A revised version of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas features a smoke-free Santa.


Leave milk, cookies and Nicorette for Santa
this year. Photo via

By May Wilkerson


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If your job was to deliver toys to all the boys and girls in the world, you too might feel the urge to light up (just to take the edge off). But it looks like this is the year even Santa Claus is quitting. Anti-smoking advocate Pamela McColl has rewritten and re-published the beloved Christmas poem, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas—doing away with the “stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth," as well as the smoke that "encircled his head like a wreath." “I just really don’t think Santa should be smoking in the 21st century,” says McColl, herself an ex-smoker. “A lot of people my age have lost someone to smoking." In the revised version, A Visit From St. Nicholas, pipe references have been cut from both the illustrations and the verses, and the back flap of the book features a note from St. Nicholas himself, declaring that he has “decided to leave all of that old tired business of smoking well behind us.” Although she's received support from parents and doctors, McColl has also met with opposition from librarians and others who see the edits as tampering with an important historical-literary figure. But the anti-smoking crusader doesn't give a jolly damn. "He’s not historical to the people I’m worried about," she says. "To children, he’s real. He’s coming down the chimney and he’s smoking in the middle of the living room.”

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