You couldn’t help but feel the camaraderie in the cigar smoking world at the New York Big Smoke in December. The event was held at a new location—Pier 92 which stretches out into the Hudson River on Manhattan’s West Side. While we normally hold these cigar extravaganzas in fancy ballrooms in big hotels from Las Vegas to Foxwoods, this was a pretty bare-bones space, a nod to New York’s ever more draconian smoking laws and the lack of big ballroom spaces in the city. But inside the cavernous space, there was no sense of isolation; it was a gathering of hundreds and hundreds of men and women coming
together around their shared love of premium handrolled cigars. There were presidents of corporations, doctors, lawyers, policemen, advertising sales people, car dealers, retirees from as far away as Florida, caddie masters and young hipsters with flamboyant hairdos … in other words, people from all walks of life gathered together.
We’ve talked in the past about how often we come across people in our everyday lives who turn out to be cigar smokers. In our own personal lives, we know cigar smokers who are our doctors, our landscapers, our car dealers, not to mention the dozens of good friends with whom we play golf, share great bottles of wine and spend time with cigars in our hands. There is a true sense of brotherhood; a shared belief. No, we don’t exclude non-smokers from our world, but when we find that bond created by cigars, it is only natural that we gravitate toward those people and those moments.
Our community is more important today than ever. We have documented the onslaught of smoking bans across America and the world, and the crusade to make it ever more difficult to enjoy any kind of tobacco product. Our best hope in the face of these attacks is to band together and explain to the politicians and legislators who are crafting these smoking bans that cigar smokers are different. As our surveys have shown, most of you smoke less than one cigar a day, and the overwhelming majority of you do not inhale. You usually smoke with friends, taking time out from a busy day, or carving out time on a weekend, to kick back and relax. That’s what the world should see and hear from us—this is a lifestyle choice, not an addiction. Cigars enhance our lives.
The challenge is not getting any easier. Like any campaign with a hard-nosed bias, the crusaders believe any means justifies their end. That means distorting scientific results and vilifying anything, or anyone, trying to argue against their point of view. Make no mistake. The target isn’t just cigarettes, or cigars, or chewing tobacco. It is the prohibition of the use of all tobacco products. Cigars are not being excluded from the crusade.
The cigar community is the best defense we have against the anti-tobacco tide. Seek out your fellow cigar smokers. Go to the Cigar Rights of America website, cigarrights.org, and join the most effective organization out there that is fighting to preserve your freedom to smoke. Use Cigar Aficionado’s social media page on Facebook to find like-minded smokers, or visit our forums at cigaraficionado.com. Encourage every cigar lover you know to protest every attempt to make cigar-smoking impossible. Now is the time.