Posted: Oct 22, 2008 10:49am ET
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?
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