Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Worst Freedom is OK

As a retail tobacconist I have paid half a dozen floor taxes and tax increases this year alone. The campaign against all smokers is in full effect around the globe while smoking bans (both indoor and outdoor), de-normalization, perpetual and unreasonable tax increases, continue to usurp our freedoms. But the hallmark of 2009 is the prohibitions that have been put into place by the FDA (banning flavored cigarettes) and now NYC banning ALL flavored tobacco; again, under the intellectually bankrupt logic that these products are 'attractive to children' - even though it is illegal to sell these products to children.

Today Dr. Michael Siegel, a famous anti-smoking advocate, wrote in his blog "the anti-smoking movement is very much a religious-like one and that it is based largely on ideology rather than science." Now we should be able to see things clearly; smokerism and the relentless taxation is not based on science, but rather bigotry. And smokers, along with other freedom loving people, have been saying for years that the health police/nanny state will come after soda pop, obese people, and alcohol soon enough. Well, soon enough is already here!!! Taxes and bans on fatty foods are becoming prevalent while European cities have started to ban happy hours!

Behaviour and pleasure control has never been about health, because happiness cannot be measured in years or numbers. As a society we must accept that cigarette smoking is the absolute worst personal freedom and then move on. It's OK; there will always be a WORST Freedom. But, the key to living in free and democratic societies is to preserve freedoms, not constantly whittle away at them. Today, smokers pay more than their fair share of the 'societal' (health care) costs associated with smoking; they are not a burden to non-smokers. So it must be time to leave them alone. Otherwise, our government is just punishing people who they do not like and that is reprehensible. At this point, it will be up to non-smokers to stand up and say "Enough Is Enough". Even the worst freedom is OK, now lets get on with our lives!

"You can only be free if I am free."
- Clarence Darrow

Thursday, October 22, 2009

In Loving Memory of Rudy Garmendia

It has been just over a year since our industry lost one of its greatest leaders, Daniel Miranda of Miami Cigar & Co. Danny was too young and good to leave us so soon. Sadly, today I was informed of another great loss which has come as a big surprise. One of my oldest friends, Rodolfo (Rudy) Garmendia, was killed by a drunk driver on August 11, 2009 on 836 in Miami. This tragedy is unfathomable, and statistically improbable, but true. Rudy left behind three beautiful children, a wife, and extended family. He was just 36 years old.

Just a few weeks ago I was sitting on the rooftop of the Clevelander hotel in SoBe with friends and family telling "Rudy" stories; twenty years after the fact, he had us laughing! To my mothers surprise she learned a lot more about our high school exploits than she ever wanted to know.

Rudy had an extraordinary ability to make people smile and laugh. He had a special swagger and a natural exuberance for life. He was also a classic Cuban exaggerator and ball-buster and we loved him for it! And he was a cigar lover. He was beautiful.

I'm writing about Rudy because he embodies all of the great things that I happen to love about my friends, tobacconists and cigar smokers: they have a unique gift for savoring and creating special moments. In many ways cigars add punctuation and anchor the special moments in our lives; they are part of the process of relaxing, decompressing, and savoring our time. And, while we all live and die, very few of us have the ability to create and spread as much joy and fun as Rudy Garmendia. I suppose the lesson I will take from this tragedy is to show more exhuberance for life and smile more! That is the greatest gift I ever got from Rudy. Thank you Rudy; I will miss you and learn from you as long as I live.

My heartfelt condolences, prayers, and love will continue to go out to his family and friends.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tobacco Prohibition 2.0: Banning Flavor

nyc freedom2

Today, the New York City city council voted 46 to 1 to ban/prohibit flavored tobacco products. The ban does not include Menthol or Mint, like the FDA 'Protect Your Family from Smokers' bill, and it does not ban flavored pipe tobaccos - yet.

All of this is happening in the same city where the nanny-minded mayor changed the law so he could stay for a third term in office, banned indoor smoking, and is now trying to ban outdoor smoking in parks and beaches - because 'children should not have to see smokers'.

Where are all of the infuriated people? Where are Americans who value freedom? Individual Rights? And not just the rights you use, but all individuals' rights?

Within thirty minutes of this news breaking, I have witnessed emails, facebook, and twitter messages from industry members and not one of those messages had anything to do with the usurpation of our freedoms. Topics did include: tonight's featured bottle of wine to drink at home; something about farmville; a note about splurging on a ribeye steak because it's 'hump day'; a bejeweled score; what you are watching on TV or the internet; what you are smoking; what you are wearing for Halloween; what game you are watching tonight; who you are rooting for; and something about a golf tournament.

Sadly, many NYC tobacconists did not find out about the vote until the day before; so some of us are being rail-roaded and disenfranchised by the system. But, the real problem is our own apathy and lethargy. Where is the anger? The vote was 46 to 1!

These prohibitions started with the FDA justifying a ban of cigarettes that have a 'characterizing' flavor that 'can be attractive to children'. Yet this is the most bankrupt and illogical justification because IT IS ILLEGAL TO SELL TOBACCO TO CHILDREN. So that should be the focus - stop sales of tobacco to underage children! It's not rocket science; you don't have to be a genius to figure it out. The prohibition of products that are 'attractive to children' is the most insipid legislative trend I have ever seen in my lifetime; it is as bad as McCarthyism, Racism, anti-Semitism, and any other 'ism' which is based on an ideology of hatred and bigotry.

One hundred years ago men congregated in bars, pubs, and clubs to discuss matters of the day... at the time, most of them smoked. Yet today, we are not allowed to congregate, smoke, and talk in the same place - except for the rare retail tobacconist. And now the walls are crumbling around us.... The guiding principle behind the founding of America was 'the individual pursuit of happiness'.... so it was. What is the guiding principle behind America today?

Unfortunately, the path to freedom is wrought with challenges and sacrifice. For starters, sign The Tobacconist Preservation Act, join the CRA, get Certified, and finally, get your head out of your arse and take half of the time you spend watching TV, sports, or shopping for crap, and start fighting for your freedoms. Otherwise, all that is worth living for, the simple human pleasures, will be lost.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Cigar Myths: Body


Body = Strength

Myth: The body and strength of a cigar are the same and/or related.

Truth: Body, in terms of flavor (taste+aroma) profile, does not necessarily correlate with the Strength of a cigar. Strength refers to nicotine potency or the intensity of spice – two separate factors. Body is a flavor descriptor which can refer to the depth, breadth, and richness of a tobacco (flavor).

So, a strong cigar can be medium bodied, while a full-bodied cigar can be mild or medium strength. As an example, imagine that chicken has a mild body, while beef has a richer body, yet both can be spicy/strong, depending on how they are seasoned.

Visit Cigar Myths for comprehensive content.