The Muppet universe is anything but a smoke-free environment, as Muppet characters are sometimes seen smoking as part of a role they are playing, for celebratory purposes, or other reasons. In many cases, the smokers in Muppet productions are stock characters with whom the habit has often been associated, such as cigar-chomping tycoons or gangsters, while at other times it's associated with a specific milieu (smokey bars or a poker game). Here is a list of characters — both human and Muppet — who have been seen smoking in Muppet and Henson productions.
When released on Disney+, the parental guidance ratings included a note that the content "contains tobacco depictions" on The Muppet Movie and The Great Muppet Caper, along with select episodes of The Muppet Show and Dinosaurs which featured cigarettes and cigars. Bobby Benson's brief appearance as a street choir conductor in The Muppet Christmas Carol was altered to digitally remove his cigarette to avoid the warning.
Animation and Illustrations
In 2007, a television commercial for the anti-cigarette "truth" campaign aired, using a Muppet-like body costume as commentary in response to a 1979 document they suggest was meant to advertise smoking to pre-school children. The PSA was produced by the American Legacy Foundation and discussed details behind how Philip Morris, a major tobacco company, paid to have its products appear in The Muppet Movie (particularly the cigars used by the El Sleezo waiter, Mad Man Mooney, and Lew Lord) ten years after an executive from that same company stated that they would never attempt to market cigarettes to children. To comment on the apparent hypocrisy between these two actions, the commercial then showed a man in a Muppet-like costume wandering the streets, confusing adults and delighting children.
The commercial ignored the fact that the Muppets were not a children-only audience at the time the film was released, and thus implied that the placement of cigars in The Muppet Movie would have only been done to target children. The commercial also implied through its visuals that Muppets were smoking in the movie. This is not true. The only characters who smoked in the movie were humans; no Muppets smoked in The Muppet Movie. (Only peripherally related: following completion of filming his cameo for The Muppet Movie, Orson Welles sent Jim Henson a drawing of Kermit smoking a cigar with the caption, "For Jim. With thanks and fond regards.")
- Statler: "This show reminds me of a twenty-five cent cigar." Waldorf: "Oh, yeah? Why is that?" Statler: "Because it's cheap and it stinks!"
- Merriam-Webster defines "high" as meaning "filled with or expressing great joy or excitement" or "excited or stupefied by or as if by a drug." Given the Willie Nelson-like appearance of the hippie, the latter meaning is implied, suggesting the gentleman has recently smoked marijuana.