15 Hard-Living Centenarians That Suggest Drinking and Smoking Might Be Incredibly Good for You
Death is inevitable, but some people manage to stave it off for a long time. Often, when asked for the secret to a long life, centenarians (people that live beyond 100) and supercentenarians (people that reach 110) will ascribe it to a lifestyle of moderation, few vices and usually something weird like “and of course, my daily parsnip enema.”
For those of us who don’t live an ascetic life of moderation and regular root vegetable insertions, it can be nice when someone reaches a century of life and goes, “Yeah, I’ve been mildly wrecked for most of it.” Humans are creatures of habit, and few people who make it to 99 on a gallon of booze and 20 cigarettes a day are likely to cut down — by that point it’s probably only ethanol and tar holding them together anyway.
An impressive amount of people have made it 11 decades or more by enjoying themselves, drinking and smoking when they wish to drink and smoke, and generally presenting a pretty good ad for a boozy, smoky existence. Shots all round!
Reach 114 with a Daily Belt
Juan Vicente Pérez Mora, 114 and still going at the time of writing, credits his long life to his devout Catholicism and a daily glass of aguardiente, a strong spirit that would make most people retch if drunk straight.
See 113 Summers with the Help of Whisky
Henry Allingham, who died in 2009 aged 113, credited his longevity to “cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women — and a good sense of humor.” Even the most puritan of people would admit, that’s cool as shit.
122 Years Old: Hey Hey Hey, Smoke Cigs Every Day
Jeanne Calment died in 1997 aged 122. She was a big fan of spicy foods right until the end, ate two pounds of chocolate per week and followed her lunch every day with a cigarette and a glass of port.
118 Years of Daily Wine: That’s 36,500 Days of Legal Drinking
Until her death in 2023 at the age of 118, Frenchwoman Lucile Randon was the oldest person alive. She drank wine every day. She was 40 when the most expensive wine ever sold, a $558,000 1945 Romanée-Conti, was bottled.
You Can Pry the Booze from His Cold, Dead, 120-Year-Old Hands
Shigechiyo Izumi died in 1986, claiming — unverified — to be 120. He started smoking at 70. Medically advised to quit the spirit shōchū, he said, “Without shōchū there would be no pleasure in life. I’d rather die than give up drinking.”
117 Summers on the Pop
Italian Emma Morano, who lived to the age of 117, enjoyed homemade grappa, an Italian grape brandy. It’s quite similar to aguardiente, in fact — drink local sub-varieties of brandy and live forever.
Quitting Cigars at 103: They’re Bad for You
American Walter Breuning, who died in 2011 aged 114, was a lifelong cigar smoker. He quit for a while at the age of 103, but took it up again enthusiastically when he was given some cigars for his 108th birthday.
Gambling All the Way to the Grave
Jerelean Talley, who died aged 116 in 2015, attributed part of her longevity to playing slot machines in casinos, something she absolutely adored doing. She also bowled regularly — scoring over 200 — until 104 when her arms got too weak.
Drink Beer, Don’t Exercise, Never Die
Hermann Dörnemann, who died in 2005 at the age of 111, attributed his longevity to foregoing sports and drinking beer every day. He also drank the water he boiled his potatoes in, “for the vitamins.” He almost certainly smelled appalling.
Men Stink, Smoking Rules, Eleven Decades Is Easy
German Gertrud Henze died in 2014 aged 112. She claimed her long life was due to enjoying a cigarette and a glass of wine here and there, and never getting married.
Proof the Finer Things in Life Do Actually Help
Diplomat Juliana Koo died at 111 in 2017, over 75 years after her first husband was executed. She claimed her long life was due to never doing sports and eating shitloads of beef, pork belly and foie gras. Sounds alright!
The Record-Breaking Victorian Boozehound
Margaret Ann Neve died at 110 in 1903, only the second verified supercentenarian. She enjoyed a glass and a half of sherry every lunchtime, then a whiskey mixed with water in the evening before going to bed/passing out.
Drink for Preservation, Not Fun, and See 116
Jiroemon Kimura, who died in 2013 at 116, enjoyed watching sumo wrestling and drinking. Well, he drank — he didn’t necessarily enjoy it. He was described as “a disciplined, serious man,” who would sit up straight and drink in total silence.
This Raisin Bran Packs a Punch
Emma Didlake, who died in 2015 at 111 as the oldest living American World War II veteran, was a fan of soaking raisins in vodka overnight, a truly inventive way of getting booze into your system.
Fuck You, I Do What I Want, I’m 100
Stanisław Kowalski, who died in 2022 at 111, was the world’s oldest athlete, setting records in shot put and sprinting when over 105. He attributed his long life to never going to the doctor and doing whatever he wanted.