We Smoke Cigars, What's It To Ya?
When I was in my teens, I started smoking cigarettes, very light, menthol ones at first, eventually “graduating” to non-filters (Lucky Strikes, of course, remember those?) I almost never smoked more than a pack a day and, in my early thirties, I quit. Well, not quite, because I occasionally “bummed” a cigarette off of other smokers. In my late teens, I also developed a taste for cigars, though I did not smoke a premium cigar until many years later. Now, I enjoy a few cigars a week, handmade of course. These days, the tobacco industry is under attack and has been for quite a while. While cigarettes have been the target of government regulations, anti-smoking crusades, and the like, apparently the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now eyeballing cigars. More on that later.
Over the last 20 years or so, I have had a few “misadventures” due to my cigar habit, including a few wrinkled noses and more than a few negative comments. One cigar-smoking friend of mine got so fed up with the insults, he actually threw a chair out of the second floor window of a restaurant! Needless to say, he didn’t dine there again. The best story however concerns an evening in a restaurant outside Dayton, Ohio where I lived for a few years. I had been out on the West Coast on a business trip and, when I got home, I was hungry so I went to a place then called the Lincoln Park Grille, a classy place where I hung out on occasion. Now the Grille was “cigar-friendly.” In fact, there was a small humidor on one end of the large, rectangular bar. Being in the middle of the week, I expected to be able to sit at the bar, order a steak and eat unmolested. That night, however, they were auditioning a new band so the bar was packed. I managed to get in next to friend of mine (who was smoking a cigarette) and I ordered something to eat. On the other side of the bar, a guy was smoking a cigar. After I ate, I lit one up as well. So far so good.
Three young ladies walked in, sat on the other side of the bar, and ordered drinks. A few minutes later, the bartender, whom I new well, came over to me and said “Alex, do me a favor and walk over behind those girls and puff away for a few minutes.” I asked why and he told me that the girls were complaining about the cigar smoke. I got a kick out of his request but I refrained from going over there - no use in irritating people just for laughs. Well, a few minutes later, one of the women started holding a handkerchief over her mouth, presumably because of the cigar smoke. When she took a drink, she lowered the hanky, when she put the drink down, up went the hanky to her mouth. I watched this with amusement for a few minutes as I puffed in my stogie - hanky down, drink in, drink down, hanky up. A few minutes later, I was astounded at what she did - she lit a cigarette! Now it was hanky down, cigarette in, cigarette out, drink in, drink down, hanky back up, etc. It was all I could do to keep from falling off my bar stool I was laughing so hard! I considered walking over there and complaining about the cigarette smoke but I decided not to. True story.
Humorous incidents aside, the Food and Drug Administration in its infinite wisdom now has the power to practically destroy the premium cigar industry. (Note - “premium cigars” refers to high quality, handmade cigars, not the cheap cigars sold in drug stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, etc.) Apparently something called the “Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act,” signed into law 2009, gave the FDA unprecedented power to regulate the production and marketing of tobacco, including the curtailment of advertising. There is the possibility that cigars may have to be sold from behind the counter, ending walk-in humidors. (Believe me, when a cigar smoker walks into a humidor filled with boxes of premium cigars, he’s like a kid in a candy store!) There is also the possibility of stopping mail-order and internet sales of cigars (I get most of my cigars by mail-order). Thankfully, there is now the "Traditional Cigar Manufacturing & Small Business Preservation Act," (H.R. 1639 in Congress and S.1461 in the Senate) which I hope will pass and keep these things from happening. (Cigar smokers - write your congressmen and senators and tell them to support these bills!)
The stories of cigar smokers being harassed are legion, and I’ve experienced some of it. Look, we only smoke where smoking is allowed and we DON’T smoke to annoy anyone. We smoke for the sheer pleasure of it. Cigars contain a much higher grade of tobacco than the “filler” used in cigarettes and (most of us) do not inhale so the health risks are lessened. We just want to be left alone!
Well, I guess I had my say, so I think I will sit back, and light up a Padron 1964 Aniversario Exclusivo Maduro Robusto - pure heaven! Good smoking, everyone!
Cigar Rights of America
For those of you interested, I'm adding a link the webpage of the "Cigar Rights of America" where you can find information about efforts to curtail cigar smoking. Use the drop down menu to select your state: http://www.cigarrights.org/
Update - November 2013
"The California town of San Rafael, Breitbart news reports today, has enacted a new ordinance that will ban smoking in residences with shared walls, such as apartment buildings and condominiums. The ban will apply both to those who rent such residential units as well as those who own them within the city.
"Breitbart news reports, the ordinance 'covers any multi-family residence with three or more units, including condominiums, co-ops and apartments. The ban took effect Nov. 14.'” (Examiner.com)
The "nanny state" strikes again - this is intrusive, and basically tyrannical. So how will they enforce this? Can't you see it? OPEN THE DOOR - SMOKE POLICE! GET DOWN ON THE FLOOR! OKAY, WHERE ARE THE CIGARETTES? I'll bet the people who passed this ridiculous law sit in THEIR condos and smoke pot, lousy arrogant SOBs.