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A New Big Smoke

Marvin R. Shanken, Gordon Mott
From the Print Edition:
Fred Thompson, March/April 2009

By now, many of you have seen our ads for the Big Smoke MGM Grand at Foxwoods, the sprawling new casino that opened as part of the Foxwoods gaming complex near the Connecticut coast. The event will be held on Saturday night, April 18, and we expect a huge turnout of cigar lovers from up and down the Mid-Atlantic states and New England and all the way up to Canada. It should be a great evening.

More importantly, hosting a new Big Smoke signals a renewed effort on our part to bring the best cigars, and the best cigarmakers in the world, to your doorstep, and give you a chance to spend a little time with them. The cigar company representatives love these evenings not only because they put them face-to-face with customers who already love their cigars, but also because they give them a chance to introduce new people to their brands. Since we began the Big Smoke in 1993, we have held more than 110 events, and nearly 300,000 people have enjoyed the pleasures of fine cigars, spirits, food and camaraderie that these evenings bring.

As many of you know, it has become increasingly difficult to hold Big Smoke events. State smoking laws have eliminated many smoking venues, including one in Rosemont, Illinois, near Chicago's O'Hare airport. The Illinois law made it impossible to hold events in that state. Some of you have wondered why we just don't shift to Indian casinos in states where smoking has been banned, but it's not that simple. We need big ballroom spaces to handle the thousands and thousands of cigar lovers who want to attend the events, so we can't just hold them anywhere.

Cigar Aficionado readers have been great, suggesting places where they think a Big Smoke could be held. We're grateful for those tips, and we do research almost all suggestions because of the need to find new locations. It is part of our renewed effort to identify new places where our readers can smoke.

One thing is for sure: cigar smokers congregate in places that offer the opportunity to smoke with their friends. Whether it's the new lounge attached to a tobacconist or just a plain old cigar bar in cities that still allow them, you can find people there enjoying a cigar on a midweek afternoon, or a weekend night. It is a great thing for cigar smokers.

We hope that these new locations are a sign that the tide of antismoking fanaticism is beginning to ebb. We've always argued that the best option is one of compromise, one that lets people who want to enjoy the experience of a fine hand-rolled cigar do so without having to resort to sitting in their car, freezing outdoors in the wintertime or standing in front of a building. As long as tobacco is a legal product, and cigars are an adult pleasure, we should all be able to enjoy them in a natural comfortable setting. And that's part of the reason that we haven't given up on finding new places to hold Big Smokes. See you at MGM Grand at Foxwoods.

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