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Out of the Humidor

The Editors
From the Print Edition:
Orlando Hernandez, Mar/Apr 99

(continued from page 7)

Now, I am not suggesting that we become deluged with monotonous statistics every time a writer or columnist wants to impress a meaningful story upon the reader. However, if a writer is going to go on record to expound a personal belief, he or she better be prepared to defend the article.

Allow me to explain some interesting facts that the public rarely hears: The American Cancer Society states that the general population's chances of getting cancer are one in four to one in five over a 70-year lifetime. This means that 200,000 to 250,000 cases of cancer can be expected in a population of one million.

A one-in-a-million (.0001 percent) chance of contracting cancer is considered by many in the medical community to be an insignificant risk and is used as a benchmark. One may be surprised to learn that an increase in cancer risk from eating just one tablespoon of peanut butter is 140 in 1 million. That is to say, 140 additional cases of cancer (not necessarily deaths) may be expected from 1 million people eating a single tablespoon of peanut butter! Does this mean we should be alarmed about the consequences of eating peanut butter? Absolutely not! Foreknowledge of the matter would dictate that we eat peanut butter in moderation. The point here is that the cancer risk from eating peanut butter is not exactly highly politicized. Note that a quantity was assigned to peanut butter that correlates to a carcinogenic risk. I rarely see in published articles any statistics that show the correlation between the frequency of smoking cigars [and] an oral cancer risk. I do not know what the oral cancer risk is from smoking cigars, but common sense dictates that, like peanut butter, I moderate my intake of cigars.

I will digress for a minute and describe my weekly cigar ritual. My wife is a registered nurse who works on weekends, so I am the lone caretaker of our two very active children (ages 3 and 6) during that time. As any parent can tell you, raising children is a very rewarding but exhausting endeavor. By around dinnertime Saturday or Sunday, I start to contemplate my cigar selection from the humidor. Shall it be a Savinelli ELR tonight? Or, how about a Flor De Florez Cabinet Selection? A Fuente Fuente OpusX never fails to deliver. Such a tough decision to make! After I dutifully put the kids to bed, I pour myself a glass of fine Port, retreat to the patio outside (no secondhand smoke to consider here), light up, and, as James Woods said in an issue of Cigar Aficionado, "take stock in things." Ah, what mental relaxation and subliminal pleasure I derive from smoking a fine cigar!

Now, does having an occasional cigar make me a statistical aberration which does not fit the norm of a "typical" cigar smoker that is the focus of epidemiological studies? I do not know. The published articles will not tell me. All I know is that the health police, despite my adherence to a healthy lifestyle, would have me believe that my indulgence in a weekly cigar significantly increases my risk factors. In a larger perspective this is unfortunate, for widespread public concern and perceived risk (public opinion) will strongly influence public policy and legislative action, even without concrete scientific validation for the position taken. Magazine writers and columnists would do well to heed this, lest they may someday find a warning label on their favorite jar of peanut butter.

Mark C. Searfoss
Eastampton, New Jersey

* * *

Dear Marvin,

I work for an engineering firm, and one day it seemed I was getting more than my share of flak about schedule and budget busts. By lunchtime I had been in two and a half hours of meetings and had my rear chewed on a couple of times for something that was out of my control. To make matters worse, the lead engineer on the project was trying to get me to do some out-of-sequence work that was really not in my scope to do. (It was one of those projects that we refer to as something similar to "sewage details." He didn't want to do it, and rather than taking the criticism himself, was trying to pawn it off on me.)

I left for lunch a little early that day and went out to my vehicle to get a smoke. I opened the small travel humidor that I keep in the console and, to my surprise, found it empty. I thought of just blowing off the idea of having a good smoke, but my judgment got the better of me. A friend of mine had told me about a little shop that sells sporting goods and accessories, a few blocks away from the office. He also said they had a nice-sized walk-in humidor; I figured I would give them a try. I walked in and found that their humidor was nearly as large as the shop itself.

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