The Lies Behind The Smoking Bans

The Lies about the smoking bans

The anti-smoking lobby has always had a way of making noise - and why wouldn't they? Just like the old expression, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” This lobby knows that their goal will never be met unless they can rally enough attention for their cause. If you take a step back and look at the situation from their point of view, being so rowdy absolutely makes sense.

The problem arises when you stop to consider the actual tactics being employed by the anti-smoking lobby; the crux of their argument essentially boils down to absolute fear mongering. The lobby likes to focus on two main arguments - the health risks of smoking, especially second hand smoke to non-smokers in public areas, and the potential negative economic impact resulting from a widespread ban. However, the truth behind these arguments can be tenuous, at best.

Going through each one of these points and really taking a close look at the assertions being made and the sources that supporters of these claim pull from, it becomes more and more obvious that their proposed smoking bans are not the clear-cut good for society that the anti-smoking lobby would lead you to believe. "The Lies Behind The Smoking Bans", a very interesting essay written by Michael McFadden does an excellent job of refuting each and every point, causing the evergreen proposed ban on smoking to seem much less credible. If you are interested in the subject, I highly suggest you download and read it.

Size Matters: Long Live the Lancero

It's fun to be trendy, right?

For the longest time, the trend has been to make bigger, fatter cigars. Robustos became popular in the 90s during the Cigar Boom, and the trend continued into the new century. it seems that everyone was trying to make a fatter cigar. I think it stems from the American idea of "Go big or go home". America seemed to be infatuated with stronger bigger cigars.

But what did this trend do to the cigar?

Well, in my oh so humble opinion, it devalued the wrapper. How's that, you may be asking?

A cigar wrapper's impact on the overall flavor of the cigar is DIRECTLY proportional to the size of the cigar. The fatter the cigar, the more filler is in the cigar; which means the smaller the ratio of wrapper there is to the total amount of tobacco in the cigar.

The Cubans know what they are doing, and historically their most popular cigars have been thinner cigars. The corona, which averages a 42-44 ring gauge, has more wrapper tobacco than a robusto which averages a 48-54 ring gauge.

Cohiba Lancero

The trend to go big has gotten out of control as cigars began featuring a 54 ring gauge and many a 60+! Don't forget, ring gauge is measured by 1/64th of an inch, so a 60 ring gauge cigar is almost an inch in diameter. That's a big cigar to put in your mouth! And what are you predominantly tasting? That's right, filler.

You hear that this wrapper is aged 5 years, and this wrapper is only found on this farm, and so on; yet all sizes available are over a 50 ring gauge. That blows my mind. if this wrapper is so special, wouldn't you want to taste it?

Enter the Lancero.

The lancero has been popular with many cigar aficionados for quite some time. Before I get too carried away let me state that some folks have been making thin cigars for quite some time, like Davidoff, Arturo Fuente and Tatuaje to name a few. These sizes were often to please the manufacturers themselves or were lines that were blended for the more refined palate (a seasoned cigar smoker).

El Triunfador

Now it is catching on with the general cigar smoking public. It began with Limited Edition Samplers and sizes, thanks to folks like Don Pepin Garcia, La Flor Dominicana and Rocky Patel; but now Lanceros are showing up in many regular lines (like the Alec Bradley Tempus).

(Now you big ring gauge lovers, don't fret, there's plenty of big ring gauge cigars out there for you to enjoy, and the Big Ring Gauge trend, even with the growing pupularity of thinner cigars, shows no signs of slowing down.)

But, finally (again) the wrapper can now be enjoyed as it should be intended.

So long live the Lancero!

What is your favorite cigar pairing?

The Recluse Toro

There is much discussion regarding pairing drinks with cigars. Here's my humble opinion on the subject; please note these are my personal views - the goal of this post is also to hear about your own favorite pairings.

Water - A must if nothing else. Helps cleanse the palate and keeps the mouth from getting too dry. My go-to beverage when I try a cigar for the first time.

Scotch - Now we're talking! Another great pairing with all cigars, the flavors match perfect with cigars. My "everyday" favorite are: Isle of Jura 10 year and Glenfarclas 15 year.

Aged Rum - you haven't truly enjoyed a cigar until you've smoked one accompanied by some Zaya (drink it neat).

Other Booze - Sweet liqours like Bailey's and Kahlua work well. Dark liquors like whiskey, bourbon and cognac pair together as well. Light liquors and fruity liquors usually strike the palate wrong when accompanying a cigar.

Port - Tawnies yes. Rubies no. A good tawny has that oakiness and leathery rich body that pairs great with a stronger bodied cigar. My fave is Osborne's Tawny (cheap too!).

Coffee - Another great pairing. Any coffee goes good with a cigar, just be mindful to match the body of your coffee with that of your cigar. My fave has to be Larry's Beans (try the Mountain Sumatra).

Beer - Some folks like beer with cigars. I haven't found one that goes well with any cigar. Some like dark beer like porters and stouts as the richness and chocolatey-ness compliment the cigar flavor profile. But that's not the problem I have with beer and cigars, it's the hops. Hops have a bitterness/sourness to them that imparts those tastes onto the cigar. So a good cigar may taste sour when paired with beer.

Wine - My personal opinion is that wine does not pair with cigars. Period. Cigar Aficionado uses wine tasting cues to help describe flavors they get in cigars, but that is where the compatibility ends. Fruit and tobacco wreck the palate when combined for me.

Soda - This is a weird one. Regular cola soft drinks can be too sugary and distract from the flavors of the cigar. But for some strange reason, diet cola sodas work for me. Must be the aspartame. That said, folks have different reactions to aspartame, so this is just a recommendation based on my taste buds. Oh and of course fruity sodas like Mountain Dew and Sunkist don't work.

Apple Juice - this is a great palate cleanser. Seriously! Great for multiple smoke events.

What are your go-to pairings?

Lobbying Alone Won’t Protect the Cigar Industry

Legislation Alone Will not Protect the Cigar Industry

Why Lobbying Alone Won't Protect the Cigar Industry, and What Will

This guest post comes courtesy of Matthias Clock, chief editor at FineTobaccoNYC.

MatthiasFor the past decade, the story of the American cigar industry has been unique: a quiet but rapid expansion in the popularity and growth in sales alongside a massive increase in taxes and legislation. To protect the industry and consumers from excessive taxes and regulation, groups like Cigar Rights of America (CRA) and the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) have stepped in to lobby for more breathing room for American cigar smokers. Valiant as these efforts are, they will ultimately fail without a stronger and livelier community standing by cigars as a product. That doesn't mean the efforts of CRA and others are not critical. They are. But alone, they are not enough.

Why can't organizations like the CRA and IPCPR protect our beloved pastime? Let me clear the air first by saying, the reason isn't incompetence. The CRA, IPCPR, and smaller organizations like New York based Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment (CLASH) have skilled leadership and have won a handful of victories. It also isn't because their arguments aren't good ones. Cigars are as similar to cigarettes as a bottle of fine wine is to a can of PBR. Cigar marketing is vastly different than how cigarette companies market. The list goes on.

Click here to read the full article...

It’s official: Smoking is good for you! (well, not exactly…)

It’s official: Smoking is good for you! (well, not exactly…)

Tobacco as treatment for disease is under study.

While looking for reference material about cigar smoking I stumbled upon a book that instantly grabbed my attention. Entitled The Health Benefits Of Tobacco and written by a physician, this book went right to the top of my must read list. Could it be that we cigar smokers finally have an advocate? I needed to find out if this guy was for real. I mean after all, the whole world is telling us that smoking not only kills us, but also everyone down wind of the lit end of our cigar. Now a doctor is saying tobacco is GOOD for us… how can that be?

For such a publication to be taken seriously, it would need a legit authority to back up its seemingly outrageous claims. Such was the case here. Its author, Dr. William Campbell Douglass II, MD has a long list of credentials including Doctor of the Year from The National Health Federation. To my mind, this author gave instant credibility to an otherwise spurious notion. Growing up in the sixties, I am no stranger to tobacco-smoking doctors. My father was a general surgeon and recently recounted how his staff had demanded he stop smoking cigars in the office… the patients were complaining. But to see a respected and decorated doctor endorsing tobacco seemed contrary to all the current anti-smoking propaganda. Would Dr. Douglass’s theories stand up to scrutiny? This was something I just had to see.

Click here to read the full article...

Cigar Finish: The Untold Story

The ghost of cigars past

The ghost of cigars past.

Cigar smoking is great. We cigar smokers understand that its levels of enjoyment are many in number and deep in substance. We often talk about flavor, construction, aroma, and burn, but there is one element of cigar flavor that we tend to take for granted. One that is at the heart of why we like certain cigars.

Choosing…

But let’s start at the very beginning with the all important and exciting process of choosing which cigar to smoke. Will it be a mild Cameroon, a smooth Connecticut shade, or perhaps a powerful Nicaraguan puro? The choices are endless with each cigar offering a very different smoking experience. There are many factors that come into play when choosing a cigar. For example, the time of day might determine it’s strength while a cigar’s flavor is more important when pairing with food or drink. Regardless of the circumstance, the act of choosing a cigar is like foreplay to the sensual act of smoking a cigar.

Click here to read the full article...

Boutique cigars… Is there a difference?

Boutique cigars... Is there a difference?

Fifteen years is a long time. If we look back to 1996, we would see a world where cell phones were simply telephones, and the “War On Terror” was still a naive five years in the future. Looking through the Summer 1996 issue of Cigar Aficionado, one can see that in the world of cigars, things were also very different. In their review of 83 maduro cigars, the highest score awarded by the judges was a pitiful 88. This serves to illustrate how bad cigars were back then, especially when compared to the number of current cigars that now consistently score in the mid 90s. Some of us were not smoking cigars in 1996 but have heard of the Cigar Boom and its subsequent demise. This poor showing in Cigar Aficionado reflects the state of past cigar quality and a bleak period in the history of the cigar industry. But what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, and the cigar industry is now better than ever.

Click here to read the full article...