Santa Clause has finally quit smoking!

Not only has Santa Clause been enjoying his tobacco pipe for centuries, he’s also enjoyed some time helping out advertising execs by selling cigarettes in the mid-20th century. But now Santa’s tobacco days are over!

In the latest illustrated book of the 1823 poem Twas the Night Before Christmas, publisher Pamela McColl took out the evocative line The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath.” The cover of the book playfully proclaims it was edited by “Santa Claus for the benefit of children of the 21st century.”

The poem was originally published anonymously in a Dec. 23, 1823, in the Troy, NY Sentinel newspaper. The authorship has been greatly contested, but it is often attributed to Clement C. Moore.

McColl thinks that changes like this will help prevent children from smoking, and is even part of an organization seeking to eliminate the depiction of ANY type of smoking in films aimed towards young people, like 101 Dalmatians, for instance.

She also sees this edit of the poem as permanent, even against backlash from the literary and Santa Clause communities. She told The New York Post: “No one can backtrack now. Santa has stopped smoking, and 2012 is the year he quit, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.”

Nicholas Trolli, president of the Amalgamated Order of Real Bearded Santas, is incensed about the whole thing “Leave my story alone! This change is not officially sanctioned by the North Pole,” and some even view it as censorship.

The American Library Association’s Deborah Caldwell-Stone certain thinks it is “It’s denying access to the original voice of the author, and that’s censorship.”

What do you think? Is it better to have a smoke-free Santa Clause, or is this an act of censorship?