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Out of the Humidor

The Editors
From the Print Edition:
John F. Kennedy, Nov/Dec 98

(continued from page 2)

Dear Marvin,

I hope that this letter finds you well. I am writing to you not as a member of the cigar industry, but as a private citizen who is very concerned about his individual freedom of choice.

For the last 10 months, I have been in negotiations with Nashville's new National Hockey League franchise, the Nashville Predators. The Predators organization had planned on placing a beautiful cigar lounge in the Nashville Arena as an amenity for its luxury suite and club-level suite season ticket holders. C.A.O. was to be the title sponsor for this project in the same manner as Holt's in the Core States Arena [in Philadelphia] and J.C. Newman in [Tampa's] Tropicana Fields. I became extremely impassioned with this project and was eager to bring a top-caliber cigar lounge to the Predators organization, and to the Nashville community as well.

My dreams were crushed, however, when on August 18, the Nashville Metro City Council rejected the bill that would allow this designated smoking area in the arena. On August 3, the council passed this bill on the second reading by a vote of 21 to 13. On the third and final reading, however, the bill was rejected by a vote of 20 to 17 in favor (we needed 21 votes for a majority to win). I had the displeasure of watching this vote on public television. The antismoking zealots were not only uninformed regarding cigar smoking but chose to remain uninformed as well. At one point during the vote, it was proposed that an individual who was present would be able to further explain the state-of-the-art ventilation system that would be placed in the cigar lounge. The council chose not to hear this testimony.

Councilman David Kleinfelter argued that cigar smoking was the wrong message to send to our youth. He stated that when Michael Jordan was seen smoking a victory cigar after the Bulls's recent championship win, "one of the cigar companies undoubtedly gave this cigar to Mr. Jordan in hopes of gaining free advertisement." Why do people refuse to accept the fact that perhaps Mr. Jordan enjoys the occasional cigar and that this was not an attempt by a cigar company for free advertising? Some months ago, Councilman Kleinfelter was quoted in The Tennessean as stating that "designating a cigar-smoking area in the Nashville Arena gives the wrong message; to have a room set aside where people can sit around and kill themselves is irresponsible on our part." While I understand that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, I believe that this statement was uncalled for, unrealistic and completely irresponsible.

Marvin, my disappointment in the smoking bill's being rejected is surpassed only by my fear that a small group of misinformed individuals is making decisions for my family and me as to what is good for our own well-being. Will coffee soon be prohibited because it contains caffeine, a known addictive substance? Does this send the wrong message to our youth? Where is our freedom of choice going? Prohibition failed years ago; however, I see a certain faction of our society that is determined to dictate what we can and cannot do.

I would strongly urge anyone who is concerned about freedom of choice and individual rights to stand up and be heard. We need to fight for our rights as hard as the antismoking faction is fighting to remove our right to make decisions for ourselves. I thank you for your consideration and continued support of the cigar-smoking public.

Jon A. Huber

Director of Promotions and Public Relations

C.A.O. International Inc.
Nashville, Tennessee

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