The famous photograph of the "Big Three" at the Yalta conference (February 1945) is intriguing. It clearly shows Churchill with his trademark Havana cigar in hand, a relaxed Roosevelt with a cigarette on the go, and Stalin apparently smoking nothing. However, Stalin was very conscious of the image he projected in any posed photo, whether it be that of international statesman or Soviet working-class hero. For the statesman photos he usually appeared without cigarette or pipe; for the proletarian shots he liked to be photographed with a pipe. In reality Stalin was a lifelong heavy smoker, who smoked both a pipe and cigarettes.

However, Stalin had a rather special smoking problem: his favourite tobacco, "Herzegovina Flor," presented political difficulties. It was not available in loose form for pipe-smoking (so apparently no good for proletarian publicity) but only as cigarettes. But "Herzegovina Flor" cigarettes -- of Balkan origin -- had a somewhat bourgeois reputation which conveyed the wrong message about the “Father of Nations.” Stalin’s solution was simple: he would break open two of the special cigarettes and refill his pipe with the tobacco, so satisfying both proletarian image and personal tastes at the same time.

If you are so inclined, you can recreate the authentic ambience of “Stalin’s cigarettes," as they came to be known. The company Inter-Tabac Ltd has restarted production using Oriental tobacco grown on the Balkan Peninsula in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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