A Cigar Smoker and Proud of It

| By Gordon Mott , Marvin R. Shanken | From Michael Jordan, July/August 2005

In his interview in this issue, Michael Jordan explains why he decided to step forward and let the world know about his passion for cigars. He said it was time to take his life back from the public and go private. He said he wants to talk about pastimes that give him pleasure, even though they may not all be politically correct, like cigar smoking, like motorcycle riding, like a good bottle of wine. He doesn't shy away from his responsibilities as a role model, but argues that the acknowledgements of his private passions are not endorsements, just honest statements about pleasures that he has the right to enjoy as an adult.

How refreshing! We've seen more and more public figures who are not afraid to stand up and admit that they love a fine, hand-rolled cigar. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger went so far as to build a tent outside his state capitol offices to get around his state's smoking regulations. And he openly invites people in for smokes. Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York and on everyone's short list for a run at the presidency in the near future, doesn't hide behind his celebrity to deny his love of cigars. Gen. Tommy Franks, one of the heroes of the war on terror, didn't have a second thought about telling the world about his passion for a great smoke. And we've all heard Rush Limbaugh extol the virtues of relaxing with a good cigar. Even House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) has been photographed in public settings recently with a cigar, puffing away contentedly.

Sadly, we live in a world where the antitobacco fanatics attack anyone in a public position who dares to acknowledge that he indulges in adult pleasures. Their hysteria overshadows the attitude of a vast majority of Americans who understand that the enjoyment of a legal product is an individual choice. Have a cocktail after work. Eat a great piece of red meat. Smoke a premium, hand-rolled cigar. These are all time-honored ways of enjoying yourself. The antis are just hell-bent on doing everything in their power to make sure that no one steps out of line, or admits that he loves to indulge in a cigar or whatever.

Those concerns of being criticized have affected our current president, George W. Bush, and our previous president, Bill Clinton. Clinton had to do a lot of public relations gymnastics to hide the fact that he not only liked to have an unlit cigar in his mouth, but that he liked to light them up, too. And Bush has been even more circumspect with regard to his cigar smoking. We've never seen a picture of him with a cigar. But trust us. We know. And a lot of his close friends know, too. He just doesn't want anyone else to know.

Maybe with the examples of men like Schwarzenegger, Giuliani, Franks and Limbaugh, we can steal the thunder of the antis. They need to know that important and powerful men enjoy the right to partake of a legal product in this country, and want to do it without being subjected to the harangues of the public domain nannies. It's also time for all of us to follow that lead and stand up and say, "I'm a cigar smoker and proud of it."