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After years of suffering in exile, cigars are back. It's almost impossible to recount the extraordinary media attention focused on cigars as well as on CIGAR AFICIONADO during this past year. But let me just run down a few examples:

The New York Times. The Boston Globe. The Washington Post. The Miami Herald. The Chicago Tribune. International Herald Tribune. Atlanta Journal Constitution. USA Today. The San Diego Union-Tribune. Orlando Sentinel. San Jose Mercury News. The Baltimore Sun.

Articles also appeared in Time, Newsweek, Forbes, Fortune, Playboy and Esquire. Travel & Leisure recently added a new category to one of their city-profile stories: cigar-friendly restaurants.

If a magazine or newspaper hasn't covered cigars themselves, then check out Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Jeff MacNelly's "Shoe" strip (below), which is syndicated across the country.

But the most amazing thing has been the electronic-media coverage. I've mentioned the CNN reports before. But how about Jeopardy!, one of the top game shows on television. A $400 question went as follows: "Which Marx brother was on the cover of the Spring issue of CIGAR AFICIONADO?" Entertainment Tonight profiled power cigar smokers in Hollywood. Dick Cavett discussed the magazine on his show. And Rush Limbaugh, who tells me he reads each issue cover to cover a dozen times, can't stop talking about it to his 12 million radio listeners.

Enough already! What's the point?, you're asking. The point is this: you, the cigar smokers of America, are not voiceless victims anymore. The media powers across the country recognize that you are influential and have clout. The media's curiosity may have been piqued by suggestions that cigar smoking is a visible backlash against politically correct behavior or that cigar smokers are collectively thumbing their noses at health fanatics. Whatever. Cigar smokers are being recognized for something more than a scorned, isolated minority. The media are saying: these folks have their rights, and they are finally exercising them.

Well, let's take our newfound recognition one step further. In California, there is a proposed law, A.B. 13, that seeks to ban smoking in all restaurants and places of work. All smoking. The only exceptions are stand-alone bars and a few individual hotel rooms. Even private functions, like cigar dinners, would be prohibited under this law.

This is not just a California issue. We all have a stake in it. We can and must take a stand on issues like this. It's within our rights. Let the world understand just how potent a force we can be. The signs that we've been given the power are out there. Now we just have to exercise it.