Santa has been smoking in Clement C. Moore's holiday poem for 189 years but Canadian smoking cessation activist Pamela McColl says it's time readers had an alternate version. The verse in question is, "The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath."
In a news release
, McColl claims parents have been "ripping out specific pages to avoid children being exposed to the tobacco imagery" had to console "children worrying about Santa's health due to smoking."
The cover of the book, published this month, says it has been “edited by Santa Claus for the benefit of children of the 21st century.”
McColl tells the National Post
, “I had someone say to me ‘You can’t do that, he’s an historical figure,’ and I said ‘Santa is not a historical figure to a five-year-old. He’s literally a real guy smoking in their living room.’”
Another part of the book's description on Indigo, reads
, "Here at the North Pole, we decided to leave all of that tired old business of smoking well behind us a long time ago. The reindeer also asked that I confirm that I have only ever worn faux fur."
The publisher has faced
a barrage of accusations of over-the-top political correctness. Other critics say by changing the poem, it means children will miss out on historical learning opportunities with a watered-down iconic piece of literature.
The book will be part of the American Cancer Society's 2012 Great American Smokeout, which means, during the week of November 12-19, the ebook format will be free to download from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and the Apple Store.