Letters: Out of the Humidor
From the Print Edition:
Arnold Schwarzenegger, July/Aug 03
Yesterday the BBC announced that New York had banned smoking in public. Talk about wonderful news; it was impossible not to feel jealous and I am hoping for the same legislation in the United Kingdom as soon as possible.
Mr. Shanken, you know more than anyone that fine cigars demand contemplation, good company and ambience. This legislation will encourage like-minded people to search out venues where this combination can be found. It will encourage the proliferation of the modern equivalent of gentlemen's clubs -- and fine cigar appreciation will thrive as more enthusiasts are brought together. This is a really exciting time, and we need something similar in the U.K.
Fine cigars came to me late in life. I am 39 and until three years ago had never smoked. That was until a trip to Buenos Aires when I stumbled upon for the first time a world-class cigar retailer. We don't have walk-in humidors on the high street in the U.K. I have been a passionate enthusiast ever since, reading whatever I could and building up my own stock from trips abroad. It is funny that the more people I discuss my passion with, the more excited and intrigued people I find! One of the reasons for the intrigue is obscurity value. In the U.K., fine cigars suffer an almost zero profile.
Enthusiasm and tobacconists in the U.K. appear to be mutually exclusive. The retailers I've met see commodity and not luxury. Nobody sells you a cigar over here, you have to go and find one. I would like to help change the situation. We need to improve awareness of fine cigars in the U.K., access to fine cigars and sales methods. I have established the tax implications of importing -- now it is just a question of whom to buy from?
Please excuse my request if you feel it is a little cheeky; all that I can say is that any help you offer would be more than appreciated -- it might even start a revolution. Who knows, in 18 months' time I might be writing to tell you about the Chester Fine Cigar Club.
Editor's note: Funny, we always thought the best cigar retailers in the world were in London, and the best cigar-smoking venues were available there. You should seek out Edward Sahakian in St. James's and Desmond Sautter in Mayfair. There are no finer cigar enthusiasts anywhere in the world.