Cigar Aficionado

The Long Winter

I’m not naturally disposed to feel sorry for cigarette smokers. But for the last three months in the midst of winter’s deep freeze in New York, you can’t help but share their pain. They are easy to spot. Small huddles of people grouped as close to a building’s door as they can get, puffing away quickly so they can get back inside. Sometimes it is just a solitary smoker, standing there all bundled up. Some hardy souls often wear just shirts, without their winter coats, on a short smoke break before heading back upstairs to their jobs. 

Their plight is caused by New York City’s smoking law, which prohibits all smoking in the workplace. Using that law as justification, many buildings have gone entirely “smoke-free,” so you can’t even have a separate smoking room for your employees. It forces a leper-like status on all smokers, denying them the right to use what remains a legal product in all 50 states. At least its legality was true the last time I looked.

Cigar smokers don’t suffer quite the same indignities. You don’t light up a cigar for a quick five-minute fix, so there’s no advantage in sneaking down to the curb to fire up a $5 cigar. But cigar lovers have been denied the pleasures of smoking indoors for decades, even during the phase when restaurants offered up non-smoking and smoking sections. The only catch then was that smoking sections usually prohibited pipes and cigars. As a result, a cigar smoker had to be creative in choosing a place to light up.

How many times have you looked out the window in traffic, and seen a lit cigar in the mouth of the driver next to you? How many times have you been walking down the street, even in the dead of winter, and smelled the unmistakable aroma of a handrolled product? That’s why places like golf courses, fishing camps, hunting blinds and sidewalks all over this country serve as refuges for lovers of the leaf.

But is that fair? I’m tired of using examples to compare what’s being done to smokers by the nanny state to other products or activities. But if people took the time to investigate just how facts are being twisted to support what has become a radical worldview, they would not only be appalled but maybe a little scared.

Take a look at those cigarette smokers standing outside your office building. That’s the future.

"Hi Gordon, blogs are great, we shook hands at the Avo 80th event and I sat with some of your friends. I'm OK, for now, with my membership at Club Mac and ability to get a table there, my visits with better-healed friends to Grand Havana, and Patroon's rooftop, which opened last week across the street from my office. I've spent Saturday nights at Carnegie and listened to the Sinatra show while herfing. The situation now is tolerable, barely, but I thoroughly agree that if it gets any worse it will be terrible. They could get it right in NY if they would just licence some more cigar bars. It's OK for me because I can afford to spend a fortune on drinks and cigars (that I don't smoke, I bring my own), but for the average cigar smoker, the situation is worse than for the cigarette smokers standing outside in cold." —April 3, 2007 21:55 PM
"Twisting facts to support a radical worldview has become an art form... just look at the Academy Awards ;-)To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, the worst form of tyrant is the one who absolutely knows what's good for you.Love the blogs and the videos-- keep 'em coming." —April 2, 2007 16:44 PM
"I understand your point Gordon, but from my own personal experience, lighting a cigar at a bar in the New York Tri-State area before the smoking ban was problematic thanks to the CIGARETTE smokers -- who would complain to the bartender, who would in turn ask me to extinguish the cigar or leave. It forced me to seek places out that allowed cigar smoke and there aren't many. Fortunately, cigar smokers were spared, in a sense, because cigar friendly establishments, such as cigar bars and smoke shoppes, were unmolested by the laws. Which brings me to a point I made on David's blog, why aren't more people taking advantage of this? The cigar smoker demographic is:1. Male, 35-652. Professional3. Somewhat of a disposible income (some more than others)4. Impeccable and distinctive tasteThis is a recipie for a masterpiece, not disaster. Plus the fact that it is a place for those dirty cigarette smokers can enjoy a beverage inside (although I for one would love to see the "turnaround is fair play" rule enacted in this case).Either way, it seems to me that we cigar smokers in the NY Tri State area adapted out of necessity where to enjoy a cigar long before the smoking ban. What should happen going forward is that our message needs to get out to those with the interested of reaching our demographic to set up businesses that accomodate the smokers. They can truly prosper, both from a financial and influencer prespective.-Matt" —April 2, 2007 15:20 PM