Have you ever been in your doctor's office, turned to pick up a magazine off the coffee table, and found a copy of Cigar Aficionado? Or how about your car dealer's waiting room? Or in the back seat of a limousine, where the driver says, "Yeah, I love cigars. I keep them in there for my customers"? Or taken your kids to the barbershop, and there in the magazine rack and on the walls, are new and old Cigar Aficionados? Walk around in a Cigar Aficionado hat, and though some people may sneer at you, there will always be someone who asks, "What's your favorite cigar? I love 'em." You'd be amazed at the successful people who write us, saying they are cigar smokers and want to be profiled in Cigar Aficionado. The list ranges from young rock stars, country music singers and hip-hop artists, to athletes, physicians, actors, movie directors and producers, advertising executives, chefs and restaurant owners. Literally, everywhere you turn, you will find a cigar smoker.
Check out the cigar smoker profile in this issue; the subject is Bob Gaudio, an original member of The Four Seasons singing group in the '60s and '70s. With two writers, he commissioned a musical about the history of the group; titled Jersey Boys, it's one of the hottest shows on Broadway this season. In the show, Gaudio's character talks about being home in Nashville, on his boat, and savoring a great cigar.
But it's easy to overlook the popularity of cigars. We live in a world where the attitudes toward tobacco use are about the same as robbing banks; cigar smokers are viewed as outcasts, criticized by the antismoking zealots and even shunned in places where they used to be accepted, such as private clubs. From state to state, new tobacco taxes are being imposed or proposed—California's Tobacco Tax Act of 2006, for example, is a ballot initiative that will come before voters in November—and, no matter what proponents of such measures say their intention is, the goal is simple: to outlaw smoking.
The push to prohibit tobacco is being driven by a very small group of very dedicated health nuts. They've been at it now for 40 years, and with the advent of the secondhand smoke issue, they've been able to convince politicians all over America and the world that the only solution is to make it impossible to smoke in public and to charge exorbitant taxes to drive up the cost of tobacco. They refuse to compromise, and have found ever more devious ways to create laws that even prohibit smoking outdoors in some communities.
But we know that a lot of very influential people love the freedom to make choices that give them pleasure. We're not talking about teenagers. We're talking about millions of successful adult men and women, who a few times a week, or even once a day, like to sit back, light up a premium hand-rolled cigar, pour a glass of a superpremium spirit and relax with their friends. If everyone who enjoys doing that stood up and said "enough" to all the antismoking regulations, the rush to ban all tobacco use would end. We could then start the long road back to an equilibrium that allows adults to partake of one of life's great pleasures, at a time and place of their own choosing.