Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cigars and Smoking Bans

As most people who know me know, I’m very passionate about cigars. They are a favorite hobby of mine, and a source of true relaxation. I have traveled around the country, and soon, around the hemisphere in order to more fully understand my passion. I have been to cigar events from coast to coast, and spent time in the Dominican Republic, learning what goes into a premium cigar, from soil to cigar. This September, I will journey into the heart of Nicaragua and Honduras to further that knowledge.

As a cigar enthusiast, and an American, it pains me to see cigar enthusiasts lumped together with cigarette smokers, especially in smoking bans and tobacco taxes. When Congress initially suggested the cap on federal taxes on cigars be raised from 5 cents per cigar to $10 per cigar, people used the justification that cigars were for the rich. Rush Limbaugh coming out against the tax didn’t help. The fact of the matter is most cigar enthusiasts are middle class Americans who view cigars as an affordable and obtainable luxury, not unlike Starbucks.

When I see a cigar, I see a work of art. What other product, that is 100% handmade, can you enjoy for around $10. I think of all the people that had something to do with that cigar, which usually numbers in the hundreds. I think of how tobacco from regions around the world, where tobacco is their biggest cash crop, blend together to make something one of a kind. It is truly humbling when you put it in that aspect.

When it comes to smoking bans, the very establishments that should allow smoking, cigar bars are being singled out. Most laws say that you can’t allow smoking if you serve liquor. The purpose of a cigar bar is for consenting adults to get together and enjoy and share their hobby. If they want to have a glass of scotch or a microbrew with it, that shouldn’t be a crime.

I’m all for smoking bans in family restaurants. I used to hate nothing worse than going to Applebee’s or some other brass & fern chain restaurant, and having to sit in the smoking section. But, in a bar, where you have to be 21 to enter, you have a choice. You can go there or not. If you don’t like smoke, don’t go there. Bottom line is, it should be up to the owner. It boggles my mind that, in what is supposed to be the freest country on earth, the owner of an establishment is told that he can’t allow a perfectly legal activity in there. If people don’t like it, they can vote with their wallets and not go there.

I know I’m probably in the minority here, but I urge you to act, on behalf of personal choice. Make exemptions in the smoking ban for establishments that carry a Class “A” Liquor license. A 21+ year old adult should be able to decide on his own if he wants to go to an establishment, knowing the risks. The decision shouldn’t belong to a nanny government. We need to go back to when America was a great country, not a condo association with too many rules and bylaws.


Diane Vespa said...

I despise all kind of smoke polluting the air I am my family breathe but I agree that the government should not have any say in how an individual runs his private business.

Chef Kevin said...


I love how, as adults and parents, we are worried about what negative peer pressure to which our children are exposed, yet we willfully go to a smoky bar with our friends and then complain about how smoky the place was later. What fine examples we are setting about peer pressure.

I always thought it should have been if your alcohol sales exceeded your food sales, you are a bar and smoking should be allowed.

Lucas Woith said...

I agree, Chef...I'd even go for the more strict ruling that if you have a class A liquor license, so you have to be 21 to enter, you can smoke...that takes away the effects on children

Cameron said...

Puh-leaze!!! To try to distance yourself from cigarette smokers is arrogant and snobbish. You see a cigar as a work of art...gimme a break. I am a reformed cigarette smoker and I consider cigar smoke to be far more offensive and lingering than cigarette smoke. Take it outside with the other hooligans, stinky!!

joepyeweed said...

I agree. This country was founded on freedom, funded by the trade of tobacco. Laws banning smoking in private businesses is a vast abuse of government regulation.

I am not a fan of hanging out in a smokey bar. I used to select my hang outs by their ability to filter smoke. I would prefer to hang out in bars that had an effective air filtration/circulation system. The current laws are ridiculous.

Similar to abolition of alcohol, I think the tobacco laws will be overturned in due time.

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