Over the years Vince has been well known and renowned in his hatred for cigarettes. Whether it’s wrestlers or backstage talent or fans he can’t stand anyone who puffs in his presence. More so than someone daring to sneeze in front of him. More so than an announcer unintentionally referring to a ‘championship’ as a ‘belt’. More so than satisfying long term booking/storylines.
Even when WWE as a publicly traded company is notorious for not taking a single political stance in fear of ostracising certain fans and potential sponsors, Vince tweeted only back in 2013 ‘To smoke a cigarette, you have to SUCK #WNTD World No Tobacco Day’.
Sgt. Slaughter has gone on record about the one time he tried to smoke during a promo in the WWF. Vince was tasked to interview Slaughter for a promo when he made his debut in 1983 and after Slaughter ribbed him about “his 200 dollar haircut” he blew a big puff of smoke right in the future chairman’s face, not knowing his wretched disgust for cigs.
Slaughter told Bruce Mitchell "Vince hates smoke. The worst thing you can ever do in your life is even smell like a cigarette, or have it anywhere near him. He was turning purple and red. He was just shaking.”
On the ‘Something To Wrestle With Bruce Prichard’ podcast Bruce went into detail on how far Vince will go to stop anyone lighting up in his proximity, recounting a commercial flight they were both on in the 80s where a passenger in front of them was smoking away (in a time when that was strangely allowed). Vince offered $100 to the passenger to put out his cigarette. After he kindly declined, Vince offered $200 to the same response. So he offered $500 with the smoker commenting “I paid for this seat and just want to smoke my cigarette." So then Vince offered to pay him $500 and the price of his seat and got his way.
A tip for wrestlers graduating from NXT to the main roster - don’t take a drag in front of Mr. McMahon or your career might become one