I have not ever encountered or anything like that with a lion but I was watching a video and encountering lions came up, so I was wondering what I would do, so it eventually led to can smoking a cigarette deter a lion?

  • Was the person the lions approached smoking a cigarette? Oct 15, 2023 at 15:53
  • A couple of thoughts - wildlife tends to avoid humans and fire. Smoke = fire and tobacco smoke = humans....
    – bob1
    Oct 15, 2023 at 19:15
  • 6
    Well, if you are out in the wild with cigarette smoke as your plan A to deter lions, its a bad idea.
    – WedaPashi
    Oct 16, 2023 at 5:22

3 Answers 3


Humans are not the natural prey of lions. Although they are known to attack, they are often afraid of humans: some do hunt lions. If you are (chain!) smoking a lion may smell it but it will probably smell you anyway.

If you are in the open, the best means of defence again a possible lion encounter, is quite similar to that for bears:

  • let them know you are around by being noisy

  • stay in a group

  • carry a stick (for effect, as much as anything)

  • walk confidently, and don't run

Mountain lions may be another matter.


While I don't have a concrete data to provide to prove whether it deters them or not, I believe it highly depends on where and what is the situation.

In true wilderness sense, smoke, usually from any source for that matter, immaterial of is it from a cigarette or not, deters the broader spectrum of animals, as it indicates presence of human nearby. Thats precisely why a lot of people over the generations have considered fire during the night as a source of warmth as well as natural deterrent for wildlife.

The case with animals in a wildlife conservation park where the animals come across people more often -- for example during a wildlife safari, have gotten used to it and human presence doesn't really affect them as much as it does to real free-wild animals, so we can err on believing that the likelihood of a lion keeping away from a person smoking cigarette is more, but not because of the smoke but more because of the nature of the animal itself.

I haven't seen the video you are referring to, but we have seen the trend going up of posting videos about lions cuddling with people as if they are pet animals (some of them actually are), its highly specific to how the animals was raised. In most such cases, the animals have been raised in captivity, so we can't generalize what they are and/or aren't habituated to.

TL;DR: Smoke usually keeps most of the wildlife away in true wilderness.

Free advice: One must be extremely careful about any sort of smoke in wildlife and should absolutely refrain from creating in smoke when in bee-habitat where honeybees and other pollinators are present. Pun intended - You might deter lions but inviting bees is a terrible trade-off.

  • Good to see you back! However, I think a cigarette would deter a lion only if the smoke was blown directly into his/her face, and that a cigar would be a better choice. Actually, a large bonfire would be a better choice. Someone should do the experiment!
    – ab2
    Oct 16, 2023 at 19:06
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    @ab2: Thanks, its good to be back! Bonfire would keep all such predatory animals away.
    – WedaPashi
    Oct 17, 2023 at 9:41
  • 1
    @ab2 Well, the lion will usually try to sneak on you from downwind, so luckily (in this case), that's exactly where the smoke is going. If there's almost no wind, that will be a problem, as then even animals can't smell the smoke very far. And if there's a lot of wind, there will soon be a lot more smoke than what you had intended...
    – PMF
    Oct 17, 2023 at 13:17

The Blog, Kenya Geographic, has eight tips for surviving an attack by an African lion, none of which mention cigarettes or even exceptionally foul cigars.

These tips are:

do not go out alone

never take a dog or a child with you

do not run, nor turn your back on a lion

try to appear larger

remain standing

stay in your car

avoid mating lions or a lioness with cubs

do not go out at night

Because many of these tips are how to avoid attack, not just how to survive an attack, I am nearly 100% certain that if smoking would cause a lion to avoid you, the article would have mentioned it.

Most wild animals will avoid a campfire most of the time. All bets are off if the animal is hungry enough.

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