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Out Of The Humidor

| From Ray Lewis, September/October 2016

Dear Marvin,

Many who feel morally superior have a need to impose their personal beliefs through regulatory prohibition. The most famous example is the Volstead Act of 1919, which prohibited the manufacture, sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages.

During the prohibition of alcohol, crime rose 24 percent, drug addiction rose 44 percent and thousands died from government-ordered poisoning of industrial alcohol. Prohibiting any desired activity makes it more dangerous. We have seen this with opiates, illegal gambling, criminalized abortion and prostitution.

The agents of moral conduct have set their sights on tobacco. The plan is to create a tobacco-free society by taxing tobacco and restricting its use in increments until smoking goes away. It is interesting that as tobacco laws become more restrictive, marijuana laws become more lax.

We should oppose these efforts for the following reasons: 1) It won't work—just like it didn't work for alcohol, marijuana and prostitution. 2) It will encourage organized crime. 3) It will make tobacco more expensive and of dubious quality. 4) It is not the business of government to tell me whether I can enjoy an occasional cigar or pipe.

I am disturbed by the high degree of resignation on the part of cigar and pipe smokers. Those in the pipe community openly talk about the coming "tobacco apocalypse." They hoard tobacco, but feel hopeless against the tide of regulation and taxation.

Most of the cigar and pipe smokers I encounter are people of substance. They are smart, successful, law abiding and good citizens. We have power, but we don't claim it.

I hope your readers will vote for politicians who have no desire to impose their personal moral codes on the rest of us. I encourage cigar smokers to use the ballot box to get the government out of our wallets and our humidors.

Tom Cody
Vicksburg, Mississippi

Editors' Response: We agree wholeheartedly. The government has no business in our humidors. Handmade cigars are a legal product enjoyed by an adult audience, and any efforts by the government to curtail that enjoyment is an attack on our freedom, and a policy that's certain to fail.

Dear Marvin,

As a subscriber since your first issue, I have always been pleased with your enlightened policy towards relations with Cuba. But some of the sentiments expressed in the Editors' Note ["A Visit To Cuba, June 2016] are troubling. You suggest that we may be in danger of "losing our way." But is it "we" who are in danger or you?

First, you speak of Raúl Castro making "demands" such as the end of the embargo and the closing of the base at Guantanamo. Those aren't demands, just a wish list. The president of Cuba knows there's little likelihood of these things happening any time soon.

More disconcerting is your comment that President Obama should have been "demanding change." You never specify the demands you mean. I believe we should make the same demands for change that we have made on China, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and so many other less-than-democratic regimes with whom we enjoy fully normalized relations—that is to say, none. Otherwise, we look like a big powerful country trying to bully a tiny country—which is exactly how we have appeared to the rest of the world ever since the end of the Cold War.

Marc Kaplan
Santa Monica, California

Dear Marvin,

As I thumb through my latest issue of Cigar Aficionado I'm baffled at the Editors' Note [Obama Administration Overregulates Cigars, August 2016]. I don't understand how you can blame the Obama Administration for this new anti-tobacco legislation when the bill was passed by a Republican controlled Congress. It appears your thoughts could have as easily been titled "Republican Congress Supports Overregulation." How about a little bit of balance in your editorials?

Steven Pascal
Boston, Massachusetts

Editors' Response: President Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act—which gave the FDA control over the U.S. tobacco industry—into law in 2009 under the 111th Congress, which had a Democratic majority. Plus, more than three times as many Democrats in the House voted in favor of the bill (H.R. 1256) than Republicans. By contrast, 104 Republicans voted against the same bill while only eight Democrats voted no.

Dear Marvin,

While I am new to your magazine, I have been smoking cigars for more than 30 years. This came about accidentally, but once I had my first cigar, I was hooked. For many years I worked in countries outside the U.S.A. where Cuban cigars were available and, I must add, relatively less expensive than in most countries. My job involved a lot of travel to and through countries in the Middle East and the Gulf. Beirut, Lebanon and Dubai were my favorites as their duty-free shops had one of the widest variety of Cuban cigars found anywhere, with the possible exception of Cuba. I think Beirut's duty-free shops are better stocked and people working there understand cigars better than those in Dubai.

I tried many of the Cuban cigars available and finally settled on Cohiba. I smoked a Cohiba Robusto in the morning and a Siglo VI in the evening. You can imagine how excited I was when, a couple of issues back, I found your article about that same cigar that was my absolute favorite. That article in particular and your magazine in general, made me appreciate and enjoy the pleasure of smoking a Cuban cigar even more.

Alas, having been retired and relocated to the U.S.A., it is very difficult to find and enjoy such a cigar. I am lucky as I still take one trip a year to the Middle East. On this trip, which normally lasts for three weeks, I get the chance to enjoy a good Cuban cigar. While in the United States, I use your magazine as my guide to find good Nicaraguan or Dominican cigars to sample. I keep varying the types I smoke as I am still hoping that the U.S. will soon allow the importation of Cuban cigars and I can revert to smoking my favorite Cohibas.

Tony Awad
Alpharetta, Georgia