Cigarettes are everywhere in “Peaky Blinders,” and the main character, Thomas “Tommy” Shelby, played by Cillian Murphy, burns them like it’s the very air he needs to breathe. It’s hard to find a scene with Murphy not smoking a cigarette, but he just ignores that particular Tommy routine. “People have been smoking all day [back then] and it became a Tommy thing,” Cillian told Independent of his character’s habit.
It became a running joke between Murphy and series creator Steve Knight, with Knight frequently joking that he only had five scenes a day. The cigarettes we see on screen are actually herbal, made entirely of roses. Curiosity got the better of him, and around the time he was promoting the third season of “Peaky Blinders,” Murphy revealed he had asked props to provide him with the numbers: “I asked the accessories to count how much I smoked just out of interest, and they think it’s something like 3,000.”
The transition to herbal cigarettes has been a popular mainstay in television and film, especially for shows set in the past. The “Mad Men” show immediately comes to mind, not just for smoking, but recalling how they promoted their use of herbal cigarettes at the time. It’s a healthier workaround for casting and, with more people switching to herbs, something easier for teams to get their hands on props.