Celebrities Who Were Once Smokers
Even famous folks have struggled to kick their smoking habits.
They may try to downplay or hide it, but celebrities struggle with smoking just like the rest of us. Here are famous folks who were once cigarette smokers but have gone on the record about quitting cigarettes and seem to have kicked the habit for good.
Models sometimes smoke to keep their weight down, and Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen was one of them. But after dealing with severe anxiety, she made a big lifestyle change and dropped the cigarettes, caffeine and alcohol she’d relied on to get through the day. Gisele eliminated a lot of foods from her diet and picked up yoga and meditation, and she replaced smoking with running.
“I was filling my lungs, and I was running, I was saying to myself, ‘Smoking is not healthy for me,'” she told People in 2018.
Former President Barack Obama famously struggled to quit smoking after he became president. He used nicotine gum to curb the habit, plus one other powerful method.
“I haven’t had a cigarette in 6 years … that’s because I’m scared of my wife,” the then-president was caught saying in a live mic situation in 2013. A 2016 physical showed Obama to be tobacco-free and in better shape than he was in his previous physical.
Katherine Heigl has talked publicly about struggling to quit smoking via the nicotine patch and gum, medication and other methods. She switched to using an e-cigarette as a way to wean herself off traditional cigarettes. And when she was pregnant with her son, she stopped smoking altogether.
“I wasn’t mentally prepared, but it was a lot easier than I thought it would be,” she told Yahoo Style. “It must be some kind of psychological thing. You just shut it down. I didn’t have any issue quitting smoking. I had tried to quit several times in the past. As soon as I got pregnant, I was fine. I’ll have dreams about having a cigarette. It’s really hard. It’s the idea of giving yourself this naughty treat.”
In a wedding anniversary post on Instagram, Heigl declared, “Yup, 10 years people! A few things have changed since then. I quit smoking, thank God!”
Longtime ex-smoker Anthony Hopkins has endorsed Allen Carr’s “Easy Way to Stop Smoking.”
“I’ve often been tempted to smoke the occasional harmless cigar, the occasional harmless cigarette,” he said in a testimonial for the now-trademarked Easyway. So he read Carr’s book, and said: “Instantly, I was freed from my addiction.”
In a 2011 interview with Vogue, Theron said she had stopped smoking cigarettes but refused to go into detail about how she did it because she didn’t want to jinx it, the magazine wrote.
“I was highly addicted,” she told Vogue. “I thought, ‘I don’t smoke like normal people. I smoke to die.'” In the years since the Vogue interview, media outlets have reported that Theron used hypnosis to kick the habit and has also tried yoga and Pilates as healthy habits to help her maintain it.
When asked in 2013 about one big change in his life in the last 15 years, Matt Damon told The Guardian that he’d stopped smoking. Damon and best-bud actor friend Ben Affleck both picked up the habit in high school after idolizing movie stars that smoked. He smoked a pack and a half a day for 17 years and remembers the exact day he stopped in 2004. Damon said his brother told him he stopped smoking to help conceive children, and that apparently inspired him.
Whoopi Goldberg struggled for many years to stop smoking cigarettes, having been a smoker for 50 years before she quit in 2014. But it finally took a video featuring a brother and sister who had cystic fibrosis to get her to quit. Goldberg recalled on “The Dr. Oz Show” that the brother in the video said that all he wanted to do was breathe like a normal person, and that made Goldberg realize she had the choice to have healthy lungs, if only she’d stop smoking cigarettes.
Another supermodel who kicked a cigarette habit is Christy Turlington. She called it “the biggest accomplishment of my life,” in a blog post on Oprah’s website. “I had tried many times but always went back to it,” she wrote. “Finally I just got fed up for not keeping my promise to myself, and I quit cold turkey.”
She was diagnosed at age 31 with early-stage emphysema, which wasn’t expected to progress since she quit cigarettes at age 26. Turlington was also motivated to stop smoking since her father, who was also a smoker, died of lung cancer, and she has since become an anti-smoking advocate.
Actor Ewan McGregor used Max Kirsten’s Quit Smoking Now app to stop using cigarettes. In a testimony for the program in 2017, he said that when he relapsed and started smoking again for a few months during an intense period of work, the app helped him get back on track.
“I fell back into smoking because I’m stupid and because life is not perfect,” he said. “I realized, like, what am I doing, and I wanted to be a non-smoker again.” He used the app once again to stop.
“I was like, ‘Really, that was it? Now I don’t want to smoke?’ But there’s something about the power of our minds,” she told New You.
And she still is svelte.
“Now I eat and exercise and, you know, do everything I can,” she told Stuff. “I just try a lot harder than I used to.”
“Right now, if you asked me which one would I rather do (alcohol or cigarettes), I wouldn’t want to do either,” he told Chelsea Handler on her talk show. “I smoked when I got up and I smoked when I went to bed. Now I have a cup of coffee in the mornings and I feel better, cleaner, and I think I’m a friendlier person.”
Drew Barrymore began smoking long before most people do.
“I started smoking cigarettes when I was 9 and a half,” she told People in 1989. “I was, like, smoking constantly and going out and doing everything I could do to be bad.” She used hypnosis to stop smoking as an adult.
Jon Hamm stopped smoking when he was 24.
“It’s glamorous on film, but it’s not glamorous waking up and smelling like an ashtray,” he told People in 2007. To play the cigarette-loving, hard-drinking Don Draper on “Mad Men,” Hamm used herbal cigarettes, which he described as tasting like “a cross between lawn clippings, mint and pot.”
Jennifer Aniston attributed mistaken reports that she was pregnant to the weight she’d gained after quitting cigarettes.
“Honestly, when I look around and see people constantly on their phones, I feel like we’re missing so much. And it’s something we created. I equate it to the tobacco industry; it’s hard enough being a kid growing up and becoming who you are and finding yourself but now you have social media and you’ve added this extra pressure of seeing if someone likes or doesn’t like something you did. We’re creating these man-made challenges and it’s a such a drag.”
“I was smoking cigarettes at the time, and I was still a smoker, and she had quit smoking,” he told Howard Stern. “She wanted me to, like, shotgun cigarette smoke into her mouth so she could breathe it in. Gradually through the night, it got closer and closer and closer.” Kutcher eventually quit again with Kunis’ support.
Cameron Diaz quit smoking before filming “Charlie’s Angels” but picked the habit up again. What finally made her stop for good was her parents.
“I gave up because my parents were upset that I was smoking so much and I was setting a bad example,” Diaz said, according to Glamour. “It preyed on my conscience. I was into roll-your-own, and I was killing myself.”
However, Diaz also told Chelsea Handler that a cigarette every now and then wouldn’t kill you. Maybe not the best advice?
Ed Sheeran’s on a roll. The musician has lost weight and kicked a substance abuse and cigarette habit in the last few years. He’s had a few relapses with smoking, though.
In 2015, People reported that he’d told Ellen DeGeneres, “I realized that I’d been smoking for 10 years and that’s bad. I started smoking when I was younger and I’d always say, like, ‘I’m gonna quit. I’m gonna quit.’ And then, ‘Oh well, I haven’t been smoking for that long. It’s been, what, four years like that…’ and then when it got to 10 years, I was like, ‘Oh… I’m probably getting to the point of no return here.'”
But he posted on Instagram in May 2018, “Celebrating one year being a non smoker today.”
Comedienne and TV host Chelsea Handler struggled to quit cigarettes. In 2012 she said on a WTF with Marc Maron podcast episode that she’d just paid $500 the night before to get a pack of cigarettes delivered to her.
“I smoke sometimes when I drink,” she told Marc Maron on that episode. “I like to smoke when I drink so I only drink a couple nights a week, actually.”
In 2018 she posted on Instagram about being an ex-smoker. “#fbt to a time when I was young and thought smoking was cool. I finally quit when I got hypnotized by Kerry Gaynor,” she wrote in the caption. “Haven’t smoked one cigarette since. If you are trying to quit, look him up. It’s so much cooler not to smell like smoke. Happy Thursday!”
And in a “Note to Self” she penned for CBS, she advised her younger self to pick a day to quit cigarettes and stick to it.
Jon Stewart started smoking when he was 15 but quit in 2000.
“I was addicted to cigarettes,” he said in 2003 on Martin Short’s show “Primetime Glick.” “I used cigarettes to fill a hole in me, an emotional void,” he said as Short, in character as Jimmy Glick, shoves an entire donut into his mouth at once.
“I don’t know if that’s something you could understand,” Stewart deadpanned before laughing.
“I haven’t smoked in years,” he said in a testimony for the Kerry Gaynor method of quitting. “It was literally the closest thing to a magic pill I think.”
While the songstress Adele used to drink with the best of them and smoke along with that, she stopped smoking and cut back on drinking after having her first child.
“I absolutely loved it,” she told Rolling Stone in a 2015 interview, but she couldn’t take the idea of, “I’m dying from a smoking-related illness and my kid is, like, devastated.”
“I’m so glad I quit,” DeGeneres said on her show shortly after she quit. “I’m announcing it because I’m proud of it, because it is so hard to do.”
Kelly Ripa stopped smoking for the first time when she got pregnant with her son, Michael. But after bad reviews for her sitcom “Hope and Faith,” Ripa secretly started up the habit again. She told David Letterman in 2007 that her rock-bottom moment was hiding behind a dumpster to smoke.
“I started exercising religiously,” she said on “The Late Show” and taking Wellbutrin, an antidepressant, for three weeks, which helped her feel “no connection to smoking anymore.”
Martin Sheen has been tobacco-free for many years and endorses the Kerry Gaynor method to quit smoking. He gained 20 pounds after quitting, which ended up being helpful for his role in the 1990 movie “Cadence.”
Actress Uma Thurman was a chain smoker, but she first stopped smoking before filming “Kill Bill” so she’d be in shape.
“I used to smoke so much that I got out of breath if I did any exercise,” she told Observer Woman magazine, according to Female First. However, a New York Times writer noted that she vaped tobacco during an interview in February 2018, and she was spotted vaping as recently as August.
Does switching to vaping count as quitting smoking? Some people (who have done the research, and done both extensively) would say it’s trading one unhealthy addiction for another. And as Johns Hopkins Medicine notes, vaping isn’t as awful for you as cigarettes, but it’s still quite addictive, and it still isn’t good for your health, so here’s hoping Thurman can kick this habit, too.
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