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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
Gene Hackman, Sep/Oct 00

(continued from page 2)

I so much appreciate Cigar Aficionado magazine, and have for years. As an aficionado for more than 10 years, I have found this magazine such an insightful encouragement to my love of cigars. With the new format, I was at first taken aback seeing that you were backing away from your (our) prideful love of history's finest relaxation: cigars. But faced with the reality that the cigar boom has eased and that readership may be off, I came to a new realization: I would rather enjoy the same articles and insights about cigars with the new masthead and layout than to do without Cigar Aficionado magazine!

After all, the content has the same space and punch, but the packaging is broader-based. The magazine is not that much different. So thank you for finding a way to keep fueling the love that many of us have for cigars! Keep up the good work! I would just ask that you keep the passion for cigars coming through each issue. That will continue to help readers like me keep in touch with cigar news, profiles of other cigar lovers (past and current), and stories of cigar lovers with their pictures.

Wayne Evans
North Canton, Ohio

Dear Marvin,

After reading your article in the August issue on the political wind blowing against cigar smoking in Los Angeles, and sensing the antismoking mood in the country, which borders on hysteria, I would like to relate a story from my days as a medical intern. Although it involves a cigarette smoker rather than a cigar smoker, the point should come across well. I hope it demonstrates that sometimes, perhaps often, someone else's right to smoke may actually be more important than the antismoking person's "rights" to a smoke-free environment.

Sunday mornings can be a fairly quiet time in hospital wards, as many physicians prefer to start their rounds later than usual on this day of rest. This leaves the interns, who work around the clock, to provide most of the patient care during these hours. I was just such an intern once, fresh out of medical school doing my first rotation in general medicine at a major Chicago hospital. I had been working since the previous morning and was looking forward to heading home after morning rounds for some well-deserved sleep. But shortly before rounds were to start, I heard the "code blue" call come over the PA and my heart leapt into my throat.

Although I had taken cardiac training classes and assisted with other codes, I had yet to manage a full code. But this morning, for the first time, I would be completely responsible for saving someone's life. My pulse quickened and the sweat began to break as I began mentally rehearsing the correct medical protocols for cardiac arrest while running to the room. Squeezing between the nurses crowding the doorway and stepping to the bedside, I suddenly recalled the patient lying on the bed from earlier in my shift. It was about six hours before, and I was sitting in the lobby going over charts when a thin, gray-haired figure shuffled in.

He had the gaunt frame of a chronically ill cancer patient, and the gown he wore over his frail body gave him a ghostlike appearance as he passed. He mumbled a friendly greeting and sat wearily down in a lobby chair. Then I saw him reach into his gown and produce a crumpled pack of cigarettes. His thin fingers removed a single one, which he placed to his lips and lit. I was astonished! Smoking was not only forbidden in the hospital, but was rapidly becoming a moral anathema in society.

Yet, here I was, a physician, watching him fill the lobby with smoke. As a physician and a runner, I'm not a big fan of smoke, secondhand or otherwise. I was sure that many patients on the floor would have shared my feelings, since in addition to the health risks, there was also the concern about combustible oxygen. I considered this as I watched him smoke and soon began to feel the indignation of one who has had his "rights" violated. And as people cherish their indignation, so did I mine.

So my immediate reaction was to demand that the effrontery be removed. But as I watched this pale figure smoking in silence, I couldn't help but wonder if, at this particular moment, his contentment was more important than both my rights and the hospital's rules. Like everyone else, I have my rights, including the right to breathe clean air. But does every one of my rights need to be constantly guarded and fought for? And why should I be so anxious to push my rights in the face of another? After getting over my initial indignation, I realized that perhaps it wouldn't be so difficult for me to put my own desires aside and let him be. I continued my paperwork, finding that the smoke wasn't so stifling after all. It didn't drift back to any other rooms and was safely away from any source of oxygen.


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