In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, the Federation representative on Nimbus III, St. John Talbot, appears to be smoking something.

St. John Talbot smoking something

The Memory Alpha article I linked above seems to indicate that this character was intended to be portrayed sort of as a loser (in retrospect, I imagine him as what John Belushi would have looked like if he had made it past age 35), so it makes sense that he has some bad habits, but is it ever explained exactly what he is smoking in-universe? Is it tobacco? marijuana? Andorian gray weed? ethereal love flowers of Varlax 9? My original impression of watching this as a child was that he was simply smoking a regular tobacco cigarette, but that struck me as odd since smoking was just not something you saw in Star Trek media. I also note that tobacco is rarely mentioned anywhere else in Star Trek, and when it is mentioned in DS9's Little Green Men, it is treated as something thoroughly antiquated and possibly banned.

Yes, from an out-of-universe perspective, it is almost certain that the actor here is smoking a regular cigarette that was purchased from the shop around the corner to the studio. I'm asking whether there is an in-universe explanation for what he is smoking.

  • 4
    The events of ST:TFF take place about 100 years before DS9 - enough time for tobacco (and alcohol - according to TNG episode Relics) consumption to become antiquated.
    – HorusKol
    Commented Jul 30, 2021 at 15:22
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    That's no cigarette, it's a tiny holographic generator to disguise his Klingon appearance, which is actually another holographic projection concealing his true Cardassian identity! If we want to confirm that, we should go to his quarters and ask him whether there are four or five cigarette lighters. Commented Jul 30, 2021 at 16:23
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    Death Sticks. He never went home to rethink his life choices. In all seriousness, we have to remember this is a remote planet that is in a neutral zone, is pretty much lawless, and is a lifeless “rock” as the Federation ambassador put it. So in his mind, he can get away with sneaking in a few “old school” cigs from his species’ earlier days. No one’s going to care anyway. It also gives the impression that he’s lost all will to care as an ambassador and has become disillusioned with his posting. I’m guessing it’s good old fashioned earth tobacco. Commented Aug 1, 2021 at 3:35

1 Answer 1


According to Memory Alpha, an early draft of the script has it as a

'self-lighting cigarette".

History does not record whether this so-called cigarette contains Earth tobacco, Denebian Pipeweed or whatever.

As a fun bit of trivia, Shatner claims that having developed the cigarette prop to match the script they ended up using a real cigarette on the day, so the out-of-universe answer is that this is probably a Morley Marlboro.

William Shatner, in an interview on E! Entertainment Television, said that David Warner's character was going to have a prop that consisted of a self-lighting cigarette. According to Shatner, they simply forgot to use this in one of the scenes, even though the prop actually worked, and cost thousands of dollars.

  • A "self-lighting" cigarette? I suppose it smokes itself, too. Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 17:04
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    @EmsleyWyatt - When I used to smoke, I invented the idea of a self-lighting cigarette. I was horrified to find that time travelers had stolen my idea and gone back to the 1900s and patented it; technovelgy.com/ct/content.asp?Bnum=794
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 17:07
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    “they simply forgot to use this in one of the scenes, even though the prop actually worked, and cost thousands of dollars” — weird that Shatner didn’t get hired to direct many more movies 🤦 Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 17:42
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    "Denebian Pipeweed"—I see a Trek-Asimov-Tolkien fan fiction possibility here!
    – Buzz
    Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 20:56

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