The Long Winter
Posted: Apr 2, 2007 9:30am ET
I’m not naturally disposed to feel sorry for cigarette smokers. But for the last three months in the midst of winter’s deep freeze in New York, you can’t help but share their pain. They are easy to spot. Small huddles of people grouped as close to a building’s door as they can get, puffing away quickly so they can get back inside. Sometimes it is just a solitary smoker, standing there all bundled up. Some hardy souls often wear just shirts, without their winter coats, on a short smoke break before heading back upstairs to their jobs.
Their plight is caused by New York City’s smoking law, which prohibits all smoking in the workplace. Using that law as justification, many buildings have gone entirely “smoke-free,” so you can’t even have a separate smoking room for your employees. It forces a leper-like status on all smokers, denying them the right to use what remains a legal product in all 50 states. At least its legality was true the last time I looked.
Cigar smokers don’t suffer quite the same indignities. You don’t light up a cigar for a quick five-minute fix, so there’s no advantage in sneaking down to the curb to fire up a $5 cigar. But cigar lovers have been denied the pleasures of smoking indoors for decades, even during the phase when restaurants offered up non-smoking and smoking sections. The only catch then was that smoking sections usually prohibited pipes and cigars. As a result, a cigar smoker had to be creative in choosing a place to light up.
How many times have you looked out the window in traffic, and seen a lit cigar in the mouth of the driver next to you? How many times have you been walking down the street, even in the dead of winter, and smelled the unmistakable aroma of a handrolled product? That’s why places like golf courses, fishing camps, hunting blinds and sidewalks all over this country serve as refuges for lovers of the leaf.
But is that fair? I’m tired of using examples to compare what’s being done to smokers by the nanny state to other products or activities. But if people took the time to investigate just how facts are being twisted to support what has become a radical worldview, they would not only be appalled but maybe a little scared.
Take a look at those cigarette smokers standing outside your office building. That’s the future.
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