Road Warrior   

I was standing on the corner of 44th Street and 5th Avenue recently in New York. I looked up as a Nissan Maxima cruised through the light. The window was open, and the driver was puffing away on a big double corona. He wasn’t going that fast, and as he passed down the street, the sweet aroma of the cigar wafted over the crosswalk.

My first thought was, “well, now I know where everybody is smoking cigars!” But I realized almost immediately that I’d known that many people choose to smoke in their cars anyway. For some, it’s the only place they can enjoy a cigar. Home is off limits, unless it’s outside on the back patio. Forget the workplace. I’m not sure there any offices left in America, other than ours, where you can light up a cigar; it’s either the law or company policy. There’s the golf course, of course, but not everybody plays golf. And, as Gay Talese once pointed out in an early issue of Cigar Aficionado, there’s always walking the dog time to light up.

We’re also lucky in New York because there are still half a dozen cigar bars or more, and some restaurants that have rooftop access have put in smoking lounges. And nearly every tobacconist that can re-arrange his store, or expand it, has been putting in areas where their customers can smoke. I’m sure that’s true around the country, where even the most draconian smoking laws in some states have exempted retail tobacco outlets. But it does mean there are quite a few options in New York City to have a cigar in a public place.

I, for one, have never enjoyed smoking in my car. One reason is that I do lease my cars, and cigar smoke permeated leather is one of those items that triggers an end-of-lease damages payment. I also never got into the rhythm of smoking while I drove. I love to drive, and there’s always too much else going on, especially with the manual transmission in my new car, to really sit back and relax with a cigar. Another reason is that I spend a lot of my work day in a smoke-filled office, my own, and the last thing I want to do at the end of the day is sit in a car with a cigar going full blast; by the way, opening the window to me would diminish some of the enjoyment of the cigar, not to mention causing it to burn unevenly.

But I do understand that for some people, drive time is the only reliable opportunity to enjoy a smoke. And, I see it, or even smell it, quite often. I’ve been driving down country roads at night near my home in Westchester County, and the aroma of a cigar will come in through the car’s ventilation from the car in front of me. Or I see a guy at my train station often hiding a cigar in the morning on top of his front tire, and I’m sure he remembers to pick it up in the evening to smoke on the way home.

So where do you all smoke when there’s no other easy option? In the car? Walking the dog? In your backyard?
Alex Benes California October 22, 2008 11:41am ET
Gordon,Again, your priorities are in need of reassessment. First, leasing your car is fine, but as many of us in the south had "fishing cars" -- old junkers we would use ONLY for fishing -- you must have a cigar car. Now, I don't want to convince you of the virtues of cigar-permeated leather, especially when they are dwarfed by the virtues of cigar-permeated vinyl.Of course, here in Southern California we smoke while playing dominoes on the patio, while lying in the hammock on the patio, while watching a ballgame on a patio . . . . Well, we basically live outdoors here most of the year. So, come on out. We have some nice golf courses too.Alex
Gregory Hayes Jr Los Angeles, CA October 22, 2008 4:02pm ET
Gordon, my favorite place to really enjoy a great cigar is at J RESTAURANT & LOUNGE here in Downtown Los Angeles. In fact just last night I went to visit with my friends Larry and the sommelier, Federic Hemon, I smoked the 95 rated Rocky Patel Decade. Smoking an tremendously tasty cigar in your favorite spot with friends (and women ofcourse) is simply the best!
Howard White Easton, PA October 22, 2008 5:50pm ET
Here in the Northeast, I never let the weather stop me from enjoying a good smoke. However, two of my favorite places are the Famous Smoke Shop and a small men's club I am a member of (Liberty Hose).
Carl Diorio October 22, 2008 7:30pm ET
Gordon,You should try the SmokeCloaker product for autos. Plugs into the cigar lighter an works great. I crack my sunroof and windows and though it's not 100% in eliminating residual odors, I'd say it keeps any odor problems within real manageable limits.
Ron Wright October 23, 2008 1:41am ET
Gordon -I think you and your readers may find this posting regarding proposed anti-smoking legislation in Los Angeles and Boston of interest.
Alan Askins Fort Worth Tx October 23, 2008 11:51pm ET
Gordon, I am fortunate to be able to smoke at home indoors. That's my favorite place because I can savor the aroma. Otherwise there are many great places to unwind with your favorite cigar in the Fort Worth area. My favorites are Tap-In, a sports-bar on Main Street in picturesque downtown Grapevine (every table is a smoking table) and Pop's Safari in the cultural district just west of downtown Fort Worth.
Kevin Zaborniak October 24, 2008 12:15pm ET
Out here in the socialist republic of California, It is becoming very hard to find a good smoking place. Last night, I went to a Cigar Family Charitable Foundation Toast Across America in the City of Long Beach. Well it had been awhile since I had been to this lounge and was surprised to find out that the city had now passed an ordinance that prohibited any indoor smoking. A smoke shop/lounge and you cannot smoke indoors. Having said that, I enjoy my cigars in the my car as well, on the back porch, (I do not smoke inside due to my children) and when I walk the dog.It is getting very hard to find establishments that allow outdoor cigar smoking. One of my favorite places was a restaurant which is known for buffalo wings. I think we know which one I speak of. Well there outdoor patio has now become a no cigar smoking patio. Cigarettes are ok. Crazy.
Nick Lisewych Lynnwood, WA October 30, 2008 12:03am ET
Here in the People's Republic of Washington, I can only smoke in my car, garage, or a tribal casino. When the ban took effect in late 2005, we could no longer smoke in cigar lounges and even smoke shops. Bonus: My employer just passed a smoking ban that covers all outdoor joke.

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