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I have, since your premier issue, read with some wonderment, the trials and tribulations faced by your readers in their quest to savor a gentle cigar in peace. I have repeatedly been shocked and dismayed by letters from your loyal readers and contributors.
I, too, have been subjected to condemnation for simply leaving my leather cigar case on my desk at the office. The mere sight of your outstanding magazine conjures up all sorts of froth from associates. It is because of this constant abuse, this shared persecution, that I feel compelled to relate the details of a recent excursion to you.
Recently, I drove for nine hours through freezing rain to Algonquin Provincial Park. I counted nine serious car accidents as I made my way north, working around closed highways. A local resident just outside the park told me that if I made the last 83 kilometers down into the woods, I wouldn't be able to get out for three days, if the roads melted.
The Petawawa River was raging. Massive boulders were covered with ice. It was nearly impossible to jump from one to the next. The water was colder than anything I had ever tasted. That first dark, wet evening, alone in the freezing tent, my mind wandered to the newspaper reports of two campers killed by a bear in the park the year before. The bear would not give up the half-buried bodies. A ghastly rarity, I thought, sipping aged Canadian whisky and watching my breath blow across the tent.
In the morning, I was unable to light a fire or my propane burner. A rabid fox followed my hike for 20 minutes. The ambition of my trip, the 300-foot cliffs, was no less challenging. When I reached the top, after snapping a few photos, I reveled in the view. It was literally breathtaking. Gravity and fear pressed me into the rock ledge. The yells and singing of long-dead lumberjacks seemed to drift through the mist of the canyon. I imagined ancient Huron and Mohawk braves coming to that place to settle old feuds.
There, in subzero weather, I pulled out my Zino cutter, wooden matches and a Cuban Romeo y Julieta No. 1. A fine place for lucid thought and perspective. My only concern at that point was whether it been damaged by the cold.
Invariably, my friends, family and associates ask me, what would possess me to risk life and limb on such a dangerous solo excursion? Truthfully, I must reply (you guessed it!), "I wanted to enjoy a cigar in peace, with no fear of anyone staring down their nose at me."
Daniel B. L. Patterson
Whitby, Ontario, Canada

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Dear Marvin:
Los Angles residents are the better for the recently imposed, restaurant smoking ban. California residents would benefit from a similar statewide ban in restaurants and public places. Yes, even a ban that extends to private functions such as cigar din-ners is appropriate. After all, why should waitstaff catering the function be forced to serve you in a noxious environment.
Steven J. Bastian
Studio City, California
Editor's Response: One of the foundations of this country's greatness is the right to enjoy yourself. Read the Declaration of Independence: it establishes the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. You don't have the right to tell anybody what to do at a private function. If you took half a minute to think about it, you'd realize just how wrong you are.

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Dear Marvin:
While reading your Autumn 1993 issue, I was quite moved by your Editor's Note entitled "A Year to Remember"...and then I got to the last paragraph. Your reference to your then fledgling publication as a "men's magazine" nearly jolted me out of my chair. While I acknowledged the fact that cigar smoking is a hobby where the majority of participants are men, and that many women consider it a disgusting habit, I count myself among the women who are not offended by cigar smokers and just so happen to consider myself among the cigar aficionados of the world. I understand that you must cater to the majority of your readership and present advertising (I happen to enjoy many of the advertised products that appear in your magazine) and features to suit a male subscriber, how-ever, I would appreciate it if your publication would cease mentioning cigar smoking as a "men's hobby" that should be enjoyed exclusively by men.
Please do not assume that I am another one of those radical feminists who wants to break down the doors of every fraternal organization in creation. I happen to consider myself a very secure woman and do not have a problem with "men only" social clubs and events, however, I found your comments on page 170 in the article about cigar dinners quite disturbing. I have read so many letters from your readers who write in to thank you for bringing cigar smoking out of the closet. Please understand that many women are no longer defining themselves by conventional societal expectations and would like to experience new and different things, even if they are privileges traditionally meant for men to enjoy (we never used to be able to vote either, remember).
From the sincere tone of your Editor's Note, you seem like a gentleman with class, someone with whom I'd love to share a smoke. I would like to think I am a welcome member of the cigar-smoking community, but if you, as the editor of Cigar Aficionado and a person of significant stature in cigar-smoking circles around the world, cannot accept the inclusion of women, we will continue to endure prejudice and discrimination. You have the ability to in-spire tolerance and acceptance for female cigar enthusiasts, and I hope that my thoughts on this issue can begin to illustrate our desire to be considered serious members of the community.
Kim Politano
San Francisco, California
Editor's Response: You are right. I would never exclude a devoted woman smoker like yourself.

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Dear Marvin:
My firm represents actor Joe Pantoliano who starred in the box-office hit The Fugitive. Joe is currently starring with Joe Mantegna and Brian Haley in the new 20th Century Fox/ John Hughes film Baby's Day Out, which is filming in Chicago and will be released this year.
I received a call from Pantoliano, Mantegna and Haley telling me to get your magazine. I went to Davidoff and promptly picked one up. It's a fantastic magazine. Well, as boys will be boys, they proceeded to tell me about their "bonding" jaunts to Iwan Ries in Chicago during the filming. Mantegna, asmoker of 20 years prefers a sweet wrapper like Arturo Fuente, Pantoliano has a taste for Davidoffs, and Haley enjoys nothing better than a Cohiba.
I have also enclosed a photo taken on the set of the three guys with their cigars.
Susan Patricola
Los Angeles, California

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Dear Marvin:
I am a 19-year-old student at Texas A&M University and a cigar smoker for nearly two years. I enjoy Dunhill Peravia, Temple Hall and the Macanudo No. 1 from its Vintage Cabinet selection.
In June 1993, the campus officials decided to make the entire campus smoke-free. There is not a university building, vehicle or outdoor stadium seat available to smokers. The move was made to limit the exposure of nonsmokers to secondhand smoke from cigarettes. Unfortunately, cigars and pipes are also lumped in under the new regulations, and they, too, are banned. As you can understand, the regulations are extremely inconvenient and irritating.
When I do go out for a cigar, I often don't enjoy it very much. It seems as though every time I light up, I get snide remarks from people as they walk by. I can't even sit outside in a grassy field without someone approaching to tell me to quit my "nasty" habit. Though I have learned to ignore many of the comments, I still find myself getting angry from time to time. Recently, however, I have started smoking at late hours in the evening. Any-one up at four in the morning is either too drunk or too tired to complain about my cigar smoke.
In an age when students are stressed to the breaking limits, it would be nice to know that there is something else besides narcotics or excessive amounts of alcohol to reduce tensions and induce relaxation.
Smoking a cigar is one of the greatest pleasures I set aside for myself. After a day of classes and exams, it is nice to know that I have something I can unwind with. It's nice to know there are still those in the world who remember what we work so hard for in our everyday lives, that life is not about being politically correct and appealing, but about enjoying oneself and enjoying the pleasures of life.
A student in Texas
College Station, Texas
Editor's Response: You may be 19 years old, but your letter suggests many more years of wisdom. No doubt you will be a great success in life.
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