Stogie Guys Free Newsletter

Subscribe today for a chance to win great cigar prizes:

Presented by:

Stogie Commentary: Fight Baltimore’s Elitist Cigar Ban

2 Jun 2008

Last week Baltimore city officials announced their intention to ban the sale of individual cigars. The ban exempts tobacconists and cigars that cost over two dollars each, so Rocky Patels, CAOs, Montecristos, and the like are exempt. No need to fear, right?

Wrong. The ban, which targets cheap machine-made smokes, may exempt the types of cigars we review here at (except on April Fools Day), but it still is an ominous power grab all cigar smokers should take note of.

Since all tobacco products are already illegal for anyone under the age of 18, the ban is simply an elitist attempt to target cheap cigars that are mostly smoked by young inner-city adults (who city officials seem to think are too stupid to be able to decide whether to smoke cigars). Or, as Jacob Grier observes, “In other words, upper class people can responsibly choose to smoke a cigar, but poor people need to have choices taken away from them.”

Like most prohibitions – last time I checked drugs were also illegal in Baltimore, but readily available – this ban is destined to fail. Enterprising individuals will be able to buy these cigars by the box and then illegally sell them on the street to anyone willing to buy them, including children. And any health benefits are likely to be undone when, instead of smoking cigars, people will turn to more addictive and unhealthy cigarettes.

For those of us who enjoy premium cigars, the worst part of the ban is the precedent that it would set. The City Health Commissioner ominously calls the ban “a small but important step forward.”

The bureaucrat’s quote begs the question: What exactly is this a small step forward towards? The answer can only be one thing: further bans on tobacco products.

Anti-tobacco activists know that a complete ban of cigars or cigarettes would face huge opposition. But a ban on products used primarily by most disenfranchised of citizens can slip through with little resistence. Consider what would happen if a major city, like Baltimore, announced its intention to ban all tobacco products. The news would be in headlines all around the country, and smokers would revolt and only support politicians who opposed the prohibition.

Instead, if the Baltimore ban becomes law, tobacco prohibitionists will have established that in the name of “public health” adults can have their choices limited. Who knows? Maybe next time all cigars or cigarettes will be on the chopping block.

If cigar enthusiasts want to continue to be able to choose to smoke cigars, they need to oppose all attempts to ban tobacco products. Today they come for cheap machine-made cigars, tomorrow it may be our beloved Rocky Patels, CAOs and Montecristos.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

7 Responses to “Stogie Commentary: Fight Baltimore’s Elitist Cigar Ban”

  1. Lisa Monday, June 2, 2008 at 5:03 am #

    I'm disappointed that this is happening in my home state. It seems like just another piece of unnecessary legislation meant to discriminate a certain demographic. Laws are already in place to prevent sales of tobacco products to minors. Any problems with enforcement should be dealt with individually.

  2. George E. Monday, June 2, 2008 at 7:53 am #

    I seem to recall reading a while back in either the Sun or the Post about the huge market in single cigarette sales in Baltimore, despite the fact that it is illegal. If cheap cigars present such a dangerous lure to young people why would they not buy five packs and split them up? I guess the thought is that with the five packs they'll read the warning and have an epiphany: "My god, you mean these things are bad for you? I never knew that! Why has no one ever told me that? I'll have to quit at once!" It's also interesting to note that Maryland, a state where I once worked and where I lived happily for many years, has among the lowest taxes on spirits and beer in the U.S. The production and distribution of both were, and I imagine remain, wealthy and powerful institutions in the state.

  3. IM Monday, June 2, 2008 at 2:22 pm #

    I think what they are trying to do is to discourage the use of these cheap cigars to roll "blunts", a popular way to smoke marijuana in the inner city (and of course, elsewhere) in which the filler of a Dutch Master or Philly Blunt is used as a kind of rolling paper. Even for this purpose the ban is totally wrongheaded in that one can buy a processed sheet of tobacco (in delicious grape and strawberry flavors!) for just this purpose. All the ban would do would be to take away a consumer choice of a legal to use product.

  4. George E. Tuesday, June 3, 2008 at 1:18 pm #

    Yes, I think it's sort of like saying, "There's a problem with steroids. Lots of people who use steroids go to gyms. So, let's close all the gyms. That should take care of the problem."

  5. furious Wednesday, June 4, 2008 at 12:52 pm #

    Typical Baltimorons in action down at City Hall. Some things never change, hon.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. Ron Paul Blog - Tobacco and Alcohol Prohibition - Tuesday, June 3, 2008

    […] on I published a commentary on Baltimore’s proposed ban on selling individual cigars that cost less than two dollars […]

  2. No Small Cigars In Baltimore » Cigar Blog - Tuesday, June 3, 2008

    […] this move is opposed by cigar aficionados. For one, though the idea might work on paper, who is to say that teenagers won’t simply pool their money together and purchase a whole pack and …? If the purpose is to really curb teenage smoking, then stricter rules regarding selling cigars to […]