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Looking at the sea of confiscated Cuban cigars in the photo accompanying the article "Smoking with the Enemy" (December 1997 Cigar Aficionado) all I can ask is, "Have you ever seen a grown man cry?" All the hard labor and skill it took to get those cigars made and into those boxes just to have them seized and destroyed just because of a few special interests in the United States and an archaic law signed 35 years ago by a confirmed cigar smoker? How ironic that in this same issue of CA there is a blind tasting of JFK's preferred size, petit coronas. If he were alive now, where would he be getting his Romeo y Julieta Cedros No. 3s?
Brooklyn, New York
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I am a 22-year-old cigar lover and an avid reader of your publication. Over the past year or so, I have taken a greater interest in the acquiring and smoking of premium cigars. But, recently, I was involved in an extraordinary situation that has changed my life forever.
Soon after my wedding this past June, I received a treasured Fuente Fuente OpusX robusto as a gift from one of my best friends. Seeing as how OpusXs do not exist in Michigan, where I reside, and considering the pains that must be taken to locate such a "find," I was truly excited and full of anticipation for that first puff.
One early evening just after the dinner rush in my restaurant, which I manage, I decided to enjoy my OpusX as I was leaving the restaurant en route for home. That's when that moment occurred that would forever change my life.
Just as I had lit the cigar and begun to take my first puff, I noticed a woman who had frantically begun to shake her child and scream for help in the middle of the restaurant parking lot. Immediately I ran to her side to find her infant son choking. I had only limited knowledge of the Heimlich maneuver. But seeing that the mother was completely hysterical, I tried to help. Several times I tried the maneuver, to no avail. Seeing that the boy's lips were beginning to turn blue, I began to panic. Finally, with one final thrust, I was able to force a jellybean free from the child's throat and place him into his mother's trembling arms. An ambulance arrived and sped both the boy and his mother off to the hospital for tests and checkups.
I have yet to hear back from the boy's mother or family, but I hope and pray that all is well. The last I heard from the hospital where the boy was admitted was that he would be 100 percent fine. What happened to my prized OpusX, you ask? I guess somewhere between the restaurant and the boy I dropped the cigar in order to help.
I had never been so scared in my entire life. On that day, I had realized just how fragile a human life can be. Never again will I light up a cigar without remembering that little boy. As for the OpusX, I guess I can wait a little longer to enjoy one!
Eric J. Jones
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I'd like to respond to the George McGovern piece you ran in your December issue, entitled "Whose Life Is It?"
My parents have smoked all of their lives and continue to do so. My father was an extremely fit boxer, soccer player and athlete in his early days; he is now 67 years of age and still walks his greyhounds several miles each day as he has done for more than 50 years. My mother was an excellent swimmer in her youth and was always an active sports mom. Both of them encouraged physical awareness and participation from all six of their children.
As far as I know, both my mother and father smoked through all of our childhoods. Smoking, as we all know, is an individual's choice as is drinking and other personal interests that one chooses to follow. Four out of the six children have chosen to smoke at some point in their lives.
My brother and I chose not to smoke, apart from the five Park Drives we bought, lit and took drags from when we were about 13 years old. Our secret activity was discovered when I took the remaining two cigs home to my mother with the matches and insisted we found them, although we were nearly sick from our experience. We were NOT hooked--yippee!
My wife has smoked all her adult life and we have one beautiful, active, energetic and fit daughter who is seven years old. Although I have never smoked, I respected my wife's choice to smoke. I must admit that I had advised her of the possible complications that might arise from her smoking, but always considered her freedom of choice and defended her in such events and often became frustrated with tunnel-visioned perceptions by others. I have known friends to ridicule her for smoking, when these people should often look at themselves when they have devoured huge meals and searched for more food because this wasn't enough, and have gone from 120 pounds to 280 pounds in 10 years and still do not get the message that their own temple is being defiled by their misguided perceptions, brought about by freedom of choice. I have watched many examples of this type of judgment against those who smoke by those who have other and equally beguiling pastimes.
These days, there seems to be much less freedom of choice with much more oppression from our left-wing activists, who ravage us with social guidance and political correctness. It makes me sicker than those three cigarettes I sucked on!
My siblings and I have grown into independent and healthy adults, luckily and possibly as normal as any healthy person can be. Our ages are between 33 and 41 years; I am 37 years old and beginning to mellow out. In the past six months I have taken an interest in having a cigar and seem to like the idea of relaxing in my smoking jacket and having a puff, along with the accessories that accompany the pastime. I never imagined in a million years that I would enjoy cigars, but this has proven to be the case.
This letter is not in direct support of smoking or problems connected with it, but it certainly supports George McGovern's freedom of choice idea. It is my belief that freedom of choice is an integral part of the Western world, of modern democracy and all people. This must be maintained or else we will continue to fall into the pattern of: Free...so long as we conform!
Michael J. Stewart
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I recently took up cigar smoking. A colleague recommended a good cigar and your magazine; this combination recently made for a very relaxing evening. I would like to take this opportunity to say how much I am enjoying both.
The other reason I am writing is to comment on the article written by George McGovern in the December 1997 issue. Given George McGovern's history, I did not think I would ever find myself agreeing with him. In this particular article, however, I found myself in complete support of his views.
We, as Americans, are a pampered people and thus can afford the luxury of "micromanaging each other's lives." In retrospect, the more horrific crimes of the world go unnoticed as we are blinded by our own pettiness. We seem equally blind to the fact that Americans, by their own hand, are rapidly losing their rights and freedoms. Not from external forces, as has been feared for so many decades, but from an internal weakness of a people who have misplaced their true ideals and lost their heroes.
I would like to see Mr. McGovern's article given more attention by other publications, and appreciate your printing it.
M. L. LaQuay Mancini
Holland Patent, New York