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Smoking on Deadline

In the heat of reporting and writing, television and newspaper journalists savor the pleasures of a great smoke.
Ken Shouler
From the Print Edition:
Bill Cosby, Autumn 94

(continued from page 4)

"Most of the growers were either Cuban exiles or rightist supporters of the Somoza dictatorship and some had been given land that was forcibly "cleansed" of peasants who had been living there for generations. These planters fled after the Sandinista takeover, which may have been good for Nicaragua but was certainly bad for cigar production. My beloved Joyas became very unpredictable; you could still buy a box of great ones, but the next box might be awful.

"One of my cigar gurus, Manuel Gamero, editor of the Honduran newspaper Tiempo, introduced me to various Central American alternatives, including one which was so potent that I literally had to struggle to keep from collapsing onto the sofa in his office during a morning interview."

Now Kinzer suppresses his habit during office hours. He smokes the Zino Mouton-Cadet, widely available in Germany. It's become his favorite. And it doesn't make him collapse on the sofa.

Stephen Smith, former Washington bureau chief for Knight-Ridder newspapers, and editor of a new magazine called Civilization, believes that cigars are best when accompanying some cerebral pursuit. "A book and a cigar are the ideal combination; there's nothing better than a Churchill biography for a cigar smoker--for obvious reasons. In halcyon days, I enjoyed [cigars] while working on deadlines and I found them a relaxing point of pleasure in my leisure time as well.

"I like Partagas. But my pride and joy are some Romeo y Julietas in a humidor in New York. There I have two boxes of pre-Castro Cubans that I bought from a friend. They were made before 1959 and burn down perfectly. They have this wonderful capacity to regenerate if you keep them in a humidor. They are the mildest, most even-smoking cigar that I've ever had. They still have the pre-Castro Batista pack stamp under the ring. The boxes are water stained. Whenever I feel cause for celebration or am feeling sorry for myself I have one.

"They are wonderfully mild and unlike the Cubans today, which are harsh. Even though journalism is heavily populated with cigar smokers, it is now politically incorrect to smoke. My problem at home is my 10-year-old, David, who is thoroughly indoctrinated by right-thinking schoolteachers. I have to wait to light one up; I do it in my study.

Smith, who was nation editor of Time until 1986 and executive editor of Newsweek until 1991, muses about a solution to the problems of cigar smokers. "If only the world had more brave men like Churchill. I don't think Winston would have been overly concerned with the office voting to stop smoking; he would have just continued." Indeed. Just imagine the signs: Free-fire zones for all. Any complaints? Dial the Prime Minister.

"In the journalistic world, Time Inc. was the apotheosis of cigar smoking--after lunches, in private dining rooms people would pass the cigar box. It was part of the luncheon ritual when we had outside guests or managing-editor luncheons.

"There was smoking everywhere. I always keyed off of Henry Grunwald, the editor-in-chief. If he lit up first, then it was a free-fire zone. Call it protocol.

"The free-fire zone was also protected by other editors at Time. Executive Editor Richard Duncan has wooden boxes of cigars in his office; when I ran short I could go to him."

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