Friday, November 27, 2009

Cigar Interview: Jorge Armenteros, CMT, Tobacconist University

Monday, November 9, 2009

Stalk Priming: Content Preview

For the better part of 2009 we have been researching and studying a very unique dark tobacco harvesting method known as Stalk Priming. This is an exclusive presentation of an agricultural and processing method which has been hidden or lost to the contemporary world of cigar smokers. We are calling this content "in development" because we would like to re-create these harvesting and processing conditions and ultimately taste the final product; that will take money, time, and more effort. In addition, this is considered CMT Curriculum, or 'advanced' content which will eventually go into the testing process for Certified Master Tobacconists.

Regardless of all these details, none of the research and writing we do has any value if we do not share it, so here it is... Please feel free to comment and share.

Thanks to Jose "Don Pepin" Garcia for sharing hist time, experience, and wisdom during the develpment of this content. The astute observer may have noticed that we included a definition of Stalk Priming in The Tobacconist Handbook and TU Glossary, but this is the first preview of the academic curriculum.

Friday, November 6, 2009

"We Are Better Than Them" Bigotry

"We are better than them" is a notion that anti-smokers and the anti-smoking movement hold close to their hearts and minds. But they do not have a monopoly on that sentiment, as I just heard a cigar salesman tell me that "we are better than them" when referring to cigarette smokers.

We know that cigars and pipe smokers enjoy tobacco very differently from cigarette smokers and the products themselves are very different. But, dependency and patterns of use does not make anyone better than another.

Are you better than me because you work out four days a week and I only work out three? Are you better because you eat more vegetables? Are you better because you are thinner? better looking? have more hair? etc..... The notion that one person is better than another for the pleasures they choose, their tastes, and/or preferences is absurd, divisive, and it is the reason all smokers are losing their rights. The anti-smoking/nanny-state/pleasure-police movement capitalizes on the notion that 'they know better' and that 'they are better'. But, this is a fraud and it is the essence of their bigotry. The only qualitative measure of a person should derive from how they treat other people.

Ultimately, we must all respect each others' rights and freedoms in order preserve our own. Tobacco users are not "dirty", "filthy", or "disgusting" people any more than non-smokers, fat, or ugly people are. In fact, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and taste is subjective, so who are we to judge?

Tobacconists and tobacco lovers are clearly the besmirched underdog in this society and we are going to have to change the way we view the world in order to make significant progress. We must change our perspective, become less divisive, build more coalitions, and teach others to respect our freedoms and choices as much as we respect theirs. If every cigar lover, as 5% of the population, convinced 12 people to respect our freedoms, then we could have a chance at surviving the tyranny of the majority.

"We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."

- Benjamin Franklin

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Tobacco Smokescreen: Distracting Bigotry

In NYC we are now fighting the prohibition of all flavored tobaccos; plus the threat of banning smoking outdoors in parks and beaches so 'children won't have to see smokers'. Meanwhile, taxation, smoking bans, and de-normalization of smokers continues to increase. Yet, we learned this year that the use of anti-depressants has doubled over the last decade and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Furthermore, you can walk into any convenience store, supermarket, or 'nutritional center' and buy yourself amphetamine-like drinks and diet pills, erectile aids, and five hour energy shots. Plus, I just read that the new 'hot' product on the market is caffeine laced meat!

Politicians and legislators are beating up on the tobacco industry and the people and businesses suffering the most are retail tobacconists and luxury tobacco aficionados. Yet, 'feel-good' prohibitions, taxation, and restrictions continue to be passed by local, state, and federal agencies. Meanwhile, the substantive problems of the world seem to go unaddressed. At this point, even cigarette smokers are more than paying for any societal costs associated with their pleasures, yet the government is milking them to pay for childrens' health-care - this is happening because the societal perception that cigarette smokers (or all smokers) are "filthy" or "dirty" people with a "disgusting" habit. Well, as long as our government chooses to stigmatize and punish unpopular people, I can guarantee that nothing positive or substantive will ever get done. Consumers of alcohol and fat people beware! This will not stop until we stand up and help minorities protect their choices/pleasures/freedoms, even if they are not the freedoms that we choose to exercise.

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