Waugh is frequently quoted on the enjoyment of Havana cigars, but the source of this quote has eluded your correspondent:
“The most futile and disastrous day seems well spent when it is reviewed through the blue, fragrant smoke of a Havana cigar.”
Among the most famous cigar smokers of the 20th century — Winston Churchill, Orson Welles, Groucho Marx, Al Capone and, less reputably, Bill Clinton — was Evelyn Waugh, who, after achieving early fame as a novelist in the 1930s, went so far as to promote cigars in an advertisement on behalf of the Cuban government. This was published in the Times in 1938, and in it Waugh made the now surprising claim that cigars were cheap. ‘It always strikes me as odd that cigars should, almost universally, be regarded as symbols of wealth,’ he wrote. ‘I know of no other physical pleasure which can be purchased as cheaply, and leave behind it so few regrets or responsibilities.’ It was true, he said, that in fiction and films and caricatures cigars were always associated with ‘the elderly and the opulent’, but in fact they were one of the pleasures we could all afford to share with them. ‘How much in their harassed routine they need those exquisite hours when the Tobacco of Havana comes to calm their apprehensions and woo them into self-esteem,’ he wrote. ‘We, too, have our worries and we, too, turn to the same source of comfort.’
While this Spectator article does not contain the exact quote that is usually cited, the quoted language may appear somewhere within this advertisement in The Times. If any of our readers have access to archival material containing that advertisement, they are invited to comment below.