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Dear Marvin,

I live in Ireland and travel to New York every Christmas for a shopping trip with my wife. I have to say we spend quite a bit of money there on clothes, etc.

I also enjoy browsing and buying cigars in New York’s finest cigar shops—probably some of the best in the world—and now with this ridiculous smoking ban that the city has put in place, so many people will be out of work, so many businesses closed. I know what I am talking about. Did you ever think that you would see bars in Ireland closing down? Yes, you’ve guessed right. Another brilliant result from our government’s smoking ban! For Christ’s sake why are they doing this to people who just want to enjoy a cigar in the park or wherever they want?

Shame on them. With everything New York and the rest of the states has been through I thought they would have bigger fish to fry, but it’s like everything else—cigar smokers are easy targets. I know I am a nobody and that the Big Apple won’t miss us, but I for one will never set foot in New York again thanks to its silly smoking ban.  Don’t even think about writing back talking about passive smoking. I don’t care. Indoors, I can kind of understand but outdoors, it’s just madness.
As Cigar Aficionado summed it up perfectly “it’s like banning driving to cut down on speeding violators.”

Shane Flaherty
Galway City, Ireland

Editor’s Note: We couldn’t agree more. It’s such a shame that our city’s politicians ignore the desires of many of its citizens and impose silly, unenforceable laws.

Dear Marvin,

I’ve been an avid reader (although only a very recent subscriber) of your magazine for about 15 years. If memory serves, the first issue that attracted me was the Michael Richards (“Kramer”) issue. What I like most about your magazine is the variety of articles. There’s plenty in it that addresses the subject of cigars, but there’s also a diverse selection of articles that treats cigar smokers like real people with a real complex array of interests. When you’re in a shop smoking with fellow cigar lovers (if you’re lucky enough to find a shop where smoking is still legal), you rarely talk only about cigars. I suppose that means that your magazine succeeds in simulating an experience at a shop, although it could never replace that.

What has recently disappointed me, however, is that I find there isn’t much coverage of those that are fighting for the rights of cigar smokers. I sympathize with and agree with pretty much anything you have written in your Editors’ Note almost every issue regarding those who are trying to rob us of our freedom to choose cigars. But there are those who are dedicating their lives to battling that. People like Glynn Loope or Brian Berman, or pretty much anyone else in the Cigar Rights of America organization, tour the country in support of building a base of members so that there are people consistently writing letters to those in power to fight restrictive legislation.

There are also retailers I know personally who make frequent trips to Washington, D.C., to join CRA personnel in lobbying for cigar smokers to have places they can congregate and share camraderie while puffing on a Padrón or Perdomo (or nearly any other wonderful cigar available across the country). And with the most recent Editors’ Note, you took time to talk about some of the positive changes, reversals and limitations of the restrictions against smoking. Organizations like CRA have definitely contributed to helping make those things happen.

Being a Canadian, I know our country could really use a consumer-based organization that fights our insanely high tobacco taxes and destructive smoking bans. Thanks to organizations like the CRA, we may be closer to forming such an organization because they have created a model that we can pick up on. Please consider doing a spolight on the CRA and one of their people so that those who may not be as aware of what they do can find an appreciation for those who give much of their free time to specifically lobbying on our behalf and will strongly consider joining such a group. The more we’re aware of such grassroots movements and join our voices with those of others, the more likely we are to gain some of our freedom back and educate the masses.

Thanks for your publication.
Rudy Regehr
British Columbia, Canada

Dear Marvin,

It has been a pleasure to be an ardent reader of your magazine since 1995. I started smoking cigars when I was in college in Boston 18 years ago and have been an aficionado since then. I started with the $1 grocery store cigar and
finally as I graduated to better cigars I was happy to buy the George Burns issue. With that I started my cigar smoking education and passion. I had a two-year subscription from ’95 to ’97 and with every new issue, I only became more in love with experimenting with new brands and buying new accessories.

In 1995 I had moved back home to India and joined my family real estate business. I always dreamt of opening a cigar lounge but the people were not yet introduced to such beautiful things and the laws of the country also did not allow import of tobacco so easily.

Today things have changed and not only do a large number of people smoke cigars in India’s cities but also travel and experience the same a lot more. Though they are mostly inclined to buy Cubans—primarily because of the limited availability and exposure of non-Cubans in India—I feel they are missing out on the Dominican and Nicaraguan beauties.

Amit Khaneja
New Delh, India

Editor’s Note: It’s nice to know that the fraternity of cigar smokers is still expanding into all corners of the globe.
Dear Marvin,

The wars must be over! There was a time when Cigar Aficionado had at least one photo that was military related, showing servicemen and women enjoying a cigar. 

Now, for the last few months, there have been none. Guess you got bored with the wars and decided to pull the plug on supporting those who are defending your rights to not wear a burqa! You might give a little more exposure to those on the front lines after they have been sweating underneath a long black bolt of cloth or wearing 80 to 100 pounds of equipment on their backs on an Afghan/Iraqi summer afternoon. So how about it? Think you can continue your tradition of supporting the troops by adding a couple of photos in every issue?

Wayne S. Knox, Sgt. 1st Cl, U.S. Army(Ret)
Fayetteville, North Carolina

Editor’s Note: We are careful about which photos we publish, usually waiting until the men and women in the pictures are home safe. We are also dependent on what arrives in the mail.

Dear Marvin,

I wanted to tell you how grateful I am to have had some old issues of your magazine lying about the house. Recently I spent a week in the hospital. My wife, realizing that my stay would be extended, asked me on the first night what I wanted from home. My back copies of Cigar Aficionado were all I wanted. And so I spent the next week recovering and rereading about 10 back issues. When I got home my first task was to go to my favorite humidor and find just the right cigar to enjoy. I picked a Rocky Patel Decade and for the next hour I reveled in leftover painkillers and a truly fine cigar. I was dizzy when I finished and soon retired for a nap.

When I awoke I realized that there is truly no place like home and that Cigar Aficionado had saved my sanity by keeping my mind occupied and giving me something to look forward to. And for that, I thank you very much.

Roger Williamson
Ridgewood, New Jersey

Editor’s Note: May your recovery continue to be a speedy one.

Dear Marvin,

I thoroughly enjoyed last issue’s article on “Avoiding Counterfeit Cubans.” I find it interesting how some people either won’t admit or just don’t know when they have purchased a fake Cuban cigar. Maybe it’s pride or maybe it’s ignorance but I have known people who refuse to accept that they’ve bought or received a counterfeit Cuban no matter how strong the evidence is, which is why the pictures you presented were such an important reference point. It was amazing to see that the Cohiba Behikes have already spawned such a series of knockoffs.

“Can You Spot the Fakes?” should be a regular part of the magazine for educational purposes as well as fun for the reader. Each description you provided regarding the embossed labels, holograms and Limitada dates are valuable pieces of information.

As a subscriber, I would like to see continuous updates when a barrage of new fakes hits the cigar scene or whenever you find interesting counterfeits, be it labels or outrageous packaging. This provides help to the consumer as well as a few laughs.

Christian Aliperti
Center Moriches, New York