I find this almost impossible to believe myself but less than a decade ago I was a Smoking Nazi. I couldn’t stand to be around anyone who smoked and didn’t hesitate to tell them so. After all, the government even told us how bad it is for us. Both of my grandfathers smoked cigars at some point in their lives and at the time I took up cigars, my father smoked them as well and still does. I gave him such a hard time and told him it would kill him.
Now, I look forward to sitting on his patio in the Dominican Republic with him, enjoying a cigar together. I had my first cigar in Miami about a decade ago while at a convention. From that moment on, life got better. I became passionate about cigars and did my research. I actually found out that sometimes the government LIES. “Hell No!” You say, but it’s true. In my ensuing years of smoking cigars, I came across certain aspects of the hobby that I feel can be attributed to all true cigar lovers. I have broken them down into six categories. You may feel some are over the top or don’t go far enough but, all in all, I hope you find some of yourself in what follows.
Educate yourself on the history of cigars. Any passionate cigar smoker should take an interest in where his cigar came from. I won’t go in to all the history here, but tobacco has played very important roles in the world ever since it was first discovered. Know how your cigar is constructed, the different parts (filler, binder, wrapper) that make it that object of your enjoyment. Realize what each part plays in bringing you that taste and aroma you look forward to every time you light up.
Share but never boast. After you have educated yourself, feel free to share with others what you have found. Most everyone is open to learning new things, but no one likes to be belittled. When I first took up cigars I knew nothing, but luckily I had the good fortune of meeting people who already had the passion and knowledge. They shared with me both the well-known and smaller nuances of enjoying a premium cigar. Never speak as though you know everything about cigars (even if you think you do). There is no room for arrogance in the cigar culture. Camaraderie will come about by meeting on the same level and exchanging thoughts, ideas and passions.
Respect your premium cigar. I say “premium” to distinguish between a totally handmade cigar and one that is machine made. A premium cigar is truly a labor of love. Unfortunately, too few of us will ever have the chance or take the opportunity to visit a working cigar farm/factory. I have been lucky enough to visit two such places, both in Honduras (where the 262 Paradigm is made) and the Dominican Republic. Until you see with your own eyes the intensive labor that goes into that wonderful cigar in your hand, it’s hard to give it its due respect, but trust me, it deserves it. Each tiny seed, the size of a pin head, is hand planted, cultivated, harvested, tied, hung, fermented, aged, selected and finally placed on the rolling table. This journey takes a minimum of 2 years and 200 hands to make it to your hand. Before I light each cigar, those experiences flash through my mind and I take the time to admire it. When I have finished smoking, I never mash the cigar out. I lay it down to rest, giving it due respect. I’m thankful for the pleasure and friends it helped bring into my life.
Welcome new friends into the world of cigars. I am thankful that when I started smoking, there were people who welcomed me and mentored me in the world of cigars. They gave me a jump-start and off I went. As cigar enthusiasts, we should always go out of our way to welcome new folks into the fold. We are a brother and sisterhood with a passion for cigars. We should be proud to be a part of this culture and foster that sense within others. I never hesitate to talk to someone about smoking a cigar. Why? Well, we may not have anything else in common but we love a good cigar, and we need to stick together.
Fight to keep what is rightfully yours. Fight is a term that never should have had to be associated with the cigar world. You have educated, shared, given respect, welcomed and now must stand and fight. We are threatened more and more everyday by a liberal media, yellow journalism and the government propaganda machine, AKA the Surgeon General’s office. We cannot fall back and depend on others to fight the powers that be. It should be understood that violence is not the answer, but educating yourself and making your voice heard are the best ways to deal with the opposition. We must all be vigilant every day and stay informed of the infringement on our rights. If you are reading this, then you have probably seen, maybe even read the 262 Manifesto. Take it to heart and make a stand. At the very least, follow the legislation concerning smoking bans in your state and voice your opposition. If at all possible, join the CRA (Cigar Rights of America) and help take a larger voice of opposition to the steps of government so we may continue to enjoy the freedoms we have.
Enjoy every minute of your cigar. From the history behind it, to the people who labored to make it, and the friends or family you may sit down to share it with – Enjoy. Any time I sit down to light a cigar, that time becomes special. Whether sitting on the deck with my wife, playing poker with my friends or just sitting around solving the world’s problems, a cigar is to be enjoyed. I often tell my wife, “If I hadn’t taken up cigars, I probably would have died of a heart attack from stress.” There is no stress reliever like a fine cigar, a tasty beverage and a few good friends. As George Burns once said, “If I had given up cigars when my doctor told me to, I wouldn’t have lived long enough to go to his funeral.” Go enjoy, my friends.
So those are my six. Hopefully, some of them made sense to you and maybe even hit home a little. If it did, that’s great! If it didn’t, there’s still time. Until then…Enjoy.
~ Matt Woernle
- On January 31, 2011
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