The Changing Laws of Tobacco

To all of us out there that appreciate fine premium cigars, I say sit up and pay attention to some very distressing changes in the laws of tobacco. In order to better understand what I am saying I would suggest some homework…that being the Editor’s Note in the April 99 issue of Cigar Aficionado. If you don’t take the time to read it now, then please take the time to read it soon so you can begin planning your strategy for your own area. This simple one page article needs to be read well and understood clearly. I like to refer to what is happening as the "stop sign syndrome." You know those intersections that don’t have stop signs where people continue to be killed and the people who could do something about it just never seem to get around to it until it is too late. Well, I think that might be happening in our world of cigars as well. If there were a time that we need to align ourselves with the efforts that Marvin is making for continued education and fair government with cigars, it is now. He has been at the forefront of cigar smoker’s rights since the cigar boom began again. In many of his writings, speeches, etc. he has continued to stress the need for us to do what is necessary in order to keep this appreciation for premium cigars alive and well and most of all PUBLIC. The "stop sign syndrome" will happen to many people if they simply never get around to doing something about this. Some day, cigar smokers in this country may well face the situation that the cigar friendly establishments in their area are closing down do to a lack of business or government regulations and codes, or worst of all, because the cigar smoking patrons are no longer patronizing their business. That business might be a retailer (who could easily be taxed out of business), a cigar lounge (that has to close due to a lack of cigar smokers frequenting their establishment), or a restaurant where cigar smoking has been welcome (but because the cigar smoking crowd isn’t dining there as much the establishment is caving in from the pressure of non-smokers to eliminate cigar smoking all together). Be very clear about this people, this could happen to any of us in any city in this country.

So the first thing we need to be doing is making sure we are supportive of those cigar friendly establishments in our community. Make the visible presence known in your community that cigar smoking is something that mature, adult individuals are enjoying in moderation at public establishments and gatherings. If no one sees us out in the public they will think that cigar smoking has gone by the wayside, giving fuel to the argument that cigar smoking is just a trend and all the more reason to eliminate them with the use of heavy handed government tactics. SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL CIGAR FRIENDLY ESTABLISHMENTS.

Next we need to do our part in government. Find out where our local and national lawmakers are on these types of issues. Find out if they are educated about cigars or whether they have simply been given hyperbole information that finds its way into newspapers, magazines and unsubstantiated polls that show up on the TV screen. Find out how they vote on these issues and whom they rely upon for obtaining their information about cigars and tobacco. Do they know and understand the difference between cigarettes and cigars. Who schooled them on this difference? These are important issues for us to be aware of because these are the people that make our laws for us. And if I am not mistaken, we are the ones who put these people in office to begin with.

Lastly, we need to be supportive of Cigar Events that take place in our local communities. One of the most impressive things about being at a Big Smoke for example is the incredible number of people present. This turnout of cigar smokers in mass sends a very clear signal to the people around them. I have seen many a man and woman in the area of one of these hotels where Big Smokes are held saying things like "I had no idea that there were so many cigar smokers around here." Yes when we gather in public to enjoy each other and our cigars we send a signal to people…a positive signal. A signal that says we belong in public too, right there with the cigarette smokers (who often have a place reserved for them), and the non smokers alike. Remember, we as mature adults enjoying our cigars in moderation are not asking that people be forced to be around our cigars, we are simply saying that we should have a space as well where we can enjoy them without the emotional uproars of disapproval coming from others. When there are public cigar functions in your area be sure to support them. Let the community know that we are out there. Put together cigar dinners with your friends. Take advantage of the fact that there are cigar friendly establishments in your area. Cigar dinners, food and beverage tastings that include cigars are a wonderful way to have a great time with other cigar friends and to let the world know that we are out there. A good example of that is my Annual Benefit Cigar Dinner for Local Charity. Often things like this get media coverage from TV and newspapers. All the more realization that the cigar community is out there, and we are a proud part of it.

Do your part. Don’t wait or think that others can do this for you. If you like enjoying cigars in public places, then do your part to secure and safeguard the future of such businesses by being supportive with more than just words. Let’s face it, every business loves loyal customers right? Likewise, every patron likes to be considered a special customer. It’s clear to me that this is a two way street. If there are business leaders out there that are willing to provide cigar friendly establishments then they are banking on the fact that there are people like us that will support them, just as they support our love for cigars.

Keep Your Smoking Holy!