Disney’s smoking habit reflected a deep internal struggle, as he was aware of how being seen with cigarettes could affect the public’s perception of him and his work. This apparently got to the point that according to sources such as PetaPixel, photos of Disney holding a cigarette had been airbrushed. His smoking habit persisted for decades, and even after smoking cigarettes was officially identified as a source of cancer, Disney could not give them up. (He preferred unfiltered Chesterfields, according to “Walt Disney and Other Characters,” by Jack Kinney.)

He did try to find alternatives, such as cigarettes with lower levels of nicotine, but nothing stuck and he was even seen breaking off the filters of the filtered cigarettes his daughters had pleaded with him to use (via MousePlanet). Disney was plagued by a terrible cough throughout the latter years of his life, and in November of 1966 was diagnosed with lung cancer. In the following weeks he received extensive care, including various pharmaceuticals, cobalt treatment, and the removal of a tumorous portion of his lung, before he was ultimately returned to the hospital and died on December 15 (via Snopes).

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