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 Dear Marvin,

I could not agree more with your editors’ note from the magazine’s August 2012 edition! I’m seriously considering framing it and hanging it in my office.

Twenty years ago it was still possible to take politicians words at face value when they assured us they weren’t planning to curtail our freedoms but merely wanted to protect the rights of non-(smokers, hunters, eaters. . . fill in the blank). One must be willfully blind to not see how this works. Your analogy of death by a thousand cuts is perfect. For anyone who has been paying attention, it is impossible to go on pretending that the heavy foot of the government is not poised to stamp out individual freedom, taking away the choices we adults make for ourselves, even in the privacy of our own homes, all for our own ‘good’.

The situation is far worse than local ordinances carried out by overreaching mayors in cities like New York; nationalized health care will certainly be used as a cudgel to beat us for engaging in activities the zealots deam ‘unhealthful’.  They will insist that we have no right to do anything that could possibly lead to medical bills that they have a hand in paying.

Truer words you’ve never printed than “It’s time we became zealots for the defense of our rights.”

When C. S. Lewis said, “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims is the most oppressive,” he was describing the nanny state of Mayor Bloomberg’s New York. Such tyrants will never stop, since they have the approval of their own consciences.  It is up to us to stop them.

My husband and I are hardly rich but there’s nothing like a glass of good Scotch, a fine cigar and a copy of your magazine to make us feel like we’ve got it all!

How dare any politician or bureaucrat try to take that away from us! Keep up the great work.

Mary Louise Pivec
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Dear Marvin,

I am a subscriber to both Cigar Aficionado and Whiskey Advocate. I look forward to learning new things while unwinding after a long day. After reading the last issue, I am reconsidering my subscription. The feature article on HBO’s “The Newsroom” disturbed me for the following reasons: My politics, and I would guess a large portion of your readership’s politics, differ greatly with Aaron Sorkin’s vision of America. In addition, HBO has a long history of left-wing bias in their programming. (The latest example being the placement of a severed head in the likeness of George W. Bush in a scene from HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” No bias there.) People of this ilk are the same people who are trying to ban cigars and/or tax the cigar industry out of existence.

My main objection however, is the total lack of relevance this article has to the cigar-loving community. After searching the article for the word “cigar,” I finally found a single paragraph on page 61 (The article begins on page 52) referencing actor Jeff Daniels enjoying having contraband cigars from Cuba several years ago and some memory of his grandfather and uncle being cigar smokers. This seemed to be an awkwardly placed reference to make the article appear relevant to the cigar community. It did not work.

If I want to read some left-wing puff piece, I’ll subscribe to Newsweek!

Brendan Walsh
Oceanside, New York

Editor’s Note: We believed from the second we heard about “The Newsroom” that it was tackling a subject near and dear to our hearts—the state of journalism in America. Whether or not Aaron Sorkin has a bias, you cannot deny that this show has been at the center of that debate since its premiere in June. If we have reached the point where the only people we can listen to are people who pass our ideological purtiy test and that we agree with, then we are in deep trouble. Debate. Challenge. Disagree. Those concepts are what we believe is the core of our strength as a nation. Otherwise, we might as well live in a country where no dissent is ever allowed.

We also do not subscribe to the idea that the only things we can publish have to be about cigars—we are always trying to explore areas of interest to intelligent, well-informed readers. Oh, and by the way, we have yet to discover any common ideological bond among the people driving anti-smoking campaigns—Democrats, Republicans, Independents, liberals and conservatives have all been on that bandwagon for a long time.

Dear Marvin,

One hundred years ago, Mark Twain enthralled audiences worldwide with his on-stage humor. Today, we call it “stand-up” comedy. Twain was a cigar smoker and smoked not only the very best, but very worst cigars available. Sometimes the cheaper smokes gave him greater pleasure. I suppose it all comes down to taste. Twain would give out expensive cigars to his guests and survey their reaction to the smokes. He often noted their displeasure on occasion. I wonder if the pleasure Twain experienced during these many smoking encounters helped the genius in his writings. I believe so, because the chemistry between the smoke and his intellect is what stimulated words that made the man so great. We all know a great smoke enhances the thought process. So light up. The cigar’s the thing.

James Caputo
Spring Hill, Florida

Editor’s Note: Interesting that you should quote Mark Twain. We actually managed a posthumous interview with the legendary novelist. See it on page page 138. You’ll find that 100 years has only sharpened his wit.

Dear Marvin,

I’ve been a longtime student of cigars and health. Twenty years of study convinces me that the scientific literature supports the notion that the health effects of cancer and heart disease for the one-or-two-cigar-per-day smoker are not significant. Unfortunately, much of the cigar “research” lately is riddled with false conclusions motivated by partisan political agendas. The science behind these conclusions is junk. It seems that the anti-tobacco scientists can’t play on a level field when it comes to giving us real interpretations surrounding cigars and health. More often than not, they resort to ludicrous examples such as comparing the carbon monoxide on a crowded freeway to unventilated concentrated cigar smoke, which of course has no bearing on the typical cigar smoker’s exposure to carbon monoxide. Cigar smoking and the surrounding health issues are
being demonized. When one actually studies the literature, there is no basis for this in fact.

Marc J. Schneiderman
Coraopolis, Pennsylvania

Dear Marvin,

I remember the time I saw the very first issue of Cigar Aficionado on the newsstand. I was so excited I could hardly pay for it at the bookstore without my hands shaking. I must have read it 20 times over within a couple of weeks. I immediately got a subscription and haven’t missed a single issue. Over the years I would read the Editors’ Note and hang onto every word and enjoy the articles and the pictures you were in. You almost always had a wonderful smile in your travels and with your good friends.

I was reading the latest issue and suddenly wondered what it would be like to be you. It seems like I already know you after following you all these years. I began to wonder if it would ever be possible to spend a few days in your company as an official guest of the magazine. I thought somehow that maybe you could have a write-in essay contest. Contestants could write a short essay on why they should be the one chosen and the winner could write a follow-up story about their experience.

It might be an interesting read for your subscribers. I know you are very busy and that time is precious, but by reading Cigar Aficionado all these years, you and Gordon Mott seem like family. I admire your efforts to prevent cancer and the other fundraising events you have. All the valuable information on tobacco, its history, growth, production, interviews with Castro and many celebrities look like a wonderful life. You have chosen a good direction that I envy. Good luck to you and your staff, and if you end up having the competition, I’d like this letter to be the first entry.

Guy Baird,
Duncan, Oklahoma