Santa has quit smoking for good from a legendary poem. Publisher Grafton and Scratch has released an edited smoking version of Clement Clarke Moore’s 1822 poem, “The Visit From St. Nicholas,” better known as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.” The words, “stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth/And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath,” will be deleted in the poem.
Pamela McColl, an author and former smoker, spent $200,000 to delete that verse in her self-published version. The inspiration came after thumbing through a library book of Santa’s escapades published in the 1960s and realized good ole St. Nick was puffing throughout half the book.
“A lot of people my age have lost someone to smoking,” McColl told the L.A. Times. “And I thought, ‘Oh my. This is a great project.’”
Of course, there has been a long publishing tradition of abridging adult books for the kids’ markets, mainly for easier reading, although that practice isn’t without controversy among parents.
Santa Helped Tobacco Companies
In fact, Santa himself had been deployed by tobacco companies in the past to promote their products during the Christmas holiday.
Defenders of the word, however, see dropping Santa’s pipe as an egregious literary infringement.
One American Library Association representative decried the edit as “an act of censorship that denies the audience access to the author’s authentic voice,” the New York Post reported.
The National Coalition Against Censorship opined in The Guardian that “putting children in an insulation bubble, hoping to protect them from anything their parents may deem harmful, is not only impossible, it is unproductive.”
Whether Santa is smoking in the story or not, the latest stats show a steady decline in cigarettes in Canada (49% to 21%) and the U.S. (40% to 19%) since the 1970s.
Maybe it’s time to admit that the pipe Santa smoked from was bad for everyone’s health.