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Out of the Humidor

CA Readers
From the Print Edition:
Dennis Haysbert, Nov/Dec 2006

(continued from page 3)

According to our founding fathers, Americans have the right of choice and the inalienable right of the pursuit of happiness provided we don't violate the rights of others, including smokers and fundamentalists. Smokers can walk into smoky places and nonsmoking fundamentalists can walk away in lieu of trying to police and sanitize streets, beaches, parks and all manner of public places.

Despite the ferocious arguments over the smoking issue, few people really question the propaganda and rhetoric used to justify the so-called tobacco war or the fundamentalist doctrines that drive it. This is because the war on tobacco is camouflaged by two great moral dilemmas of our time—the struggle between two diametrically opposed views of mankind: between man viewed as a responsible rational being benefiting and/or suffering from the consequences of his actions, and man as an irresponsible child, unfit for freedom and protected from risks and danger by agents of the all-powerful, omnipotent, ubiquitous Big Brother state.

Although the war on smokers is typically propagandized as a medical or public health effort to prevent illness or maintain health, actually it is a neo-Puritan struggle to purify and cleanse society of arbitrary evil, not to mention the millions of dollars of profit diverted to special-interest groups. The evil weed is a scapegoat for any variety of problems that beset a given society at a given time in history. Persecuting witches, homosexuals and smokers is supported by custom-made propaganda that looks superficially viable and seems to be reasonable, but not because it really protects society from harm, but because it reaffirms the power system's core values and gives the illusion of safety and security.

The more laws, regulations and scapegoats Americans make, the more safe and secure they think they are. But are they really? Our civil liberties are being seriously violated and if we don't take a stand, there's no telling how far the tyrannical fundamentalists will go. Today it's tobacco. What will be on the prohibition agenda for tomorrow?

Edward D. Balyk
Keansburg, New Jersey

Dear Marvin,
I recently received a copy of Cigar Aficionado from my wife for my birthday and was reading the "Out of the Humidor" entries. Reading this brought back memories of my childhood with my father smoking his Macanudos, which we brought home from our Christmas vacation to Jamaica. I am 34 years old and remember the day I took my first draw off one of those cigars when I was 10 years old.

Throughout my younger years and growing up in an upper-middle-class family, I was exposed to some of the finer things in life. Though it didn't come easily, I continued to smoke cigars as well as introducing my close friends to this pastime into my college years. Even when I met my wife, she never could understand why I smoked cigars, until now.

Today, I work as a deputy sheriff and see things that would make most people thank God for what they have. Even today I introduce my world of cigars to the people I trust with my life. To see the expression when they seal their lips around that masterpiece, taking that first draw, that's what it is about.

I read what Alan Pollak of Newtown, Pennsylvania, wrote in the October 2006 issue and I had tears in my eyes. It's like looking in a mirror. No matter who the individual is or what he does, a cigar is a state of mind. It takes you to that moment in time that you never forget about. You remember the past and relive those special moments with loved ones. Also, thinking about the future and how my three-year-old son watches me light my cigar and pretends to do the same. Thinking about that rite of passage is what it is about.

Today, my wife understands the true meaning of a cigar. It's about that state of mind and that one special moment in time, which continues forever.

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