Cigar Aficionado

Thoughts on the U.K.

I haven’t been to the United Kingdom since the new smoking laws went into effect. I had read about those laws, and couldn’t quite register that smoking in public had been virtually outlawed across the country—in the bastion of cigar-smoking, you can no longer smoke. I just couldn’t believe it.

But I was at a dinner dance on Saturday night, and a friend of mine who had just been to see Edward Sahakian at Davidoff in London gave me a present from him. Gee, I’m getting paranoid. I don’t even feel like telling you all what it was…I won’t get specific. It was just a nice smokeable present from across the Florida Straits!

My friend began telling me about how hard it had been to find a place to smoke in London. None of the old haunts allow it, not even the private men’s clubs. And while you can smoke in tobacco shops, it is basically limited to cigars that you purchase there. Technically, you can’t walk in off the street with a lit cigarette or cigar and smoke that tobacco product in the shop.

My friend said that there are a few places, the Lanesborough being one, where they have a patio that they have outfitted with heaters and umbrellas (both rather necessary in London), and since it is outside, you can smoke there. And, he had heard of a few other places where the same kind of arrangements were being made. There won’t be many. Again, not to make a big deal about the weather, but London is not a place known for hanging out on patios.

I could only respond with disbelief. I then said what I still believe to be true. The pendulum will swing back someday. It may not be tomorrow. It may not be next year. Slowly but surely, the realization that cigar-smoking, at least, is an adult pleasure and an adult choice that people choose to do with a full understanding of the risks. What our governments need to start recognizing is that they are denying us all the intangible benefits that come from a sharing a cigar with friends and colleagues.

"Unfortunately, I doubt it. Few public health measures are ever repealed. Seat belt laws haven't gone away. Blood-alcohol limits don't head back up. Motorcycle helmet laws are a rare exception. But with smoking on a long, slow decline, there's no one willing to fight much anymore. " —December 5, 2007 11:05 AM
"Gordon,the only thing more unfortunate with the state of the smoking world is my belief that the pendulum will not swing back. I don't believe this is a trend but rather a beginning." —December 6, 2007 16:54 PM
"Amen Gordon. "the pendulum will swing back someday"... the hysterical response to such a precious product, art, and traditions will have to end... through education and enlightenment." —December 4, 2007 19:57 PM