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Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 480

20 May

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post a mixed bag of quick cigar news and other items of interest. Below is our latest Friday Sampler.

Bianco Boxer

1) The Bianco Boxer is coming to Omar de Frais’ Fratello Cigars. The cigar will start with a soft launch at ten retailers, then roll out nationally in conjunction with the IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas this summer. It will retail for $10 and be offered in a single box-pressed, torpedo-shaped format (6.25 x 52). “Similar to the Fratello Boxer, we modified the filler blend in the Bianco Boxer to highlight a different flavor profile from its Father, the Fratello Bianco,” said de Frias. “One of our goals with The Boxer line is to show our consumers how modifying the ratio of filler tobacco can change the profile in a cigar.” The Bianco Boxer will feature a San Andrés Negro wrapper, Dominican binder, and filler tobaccos from Pennsylvania, Nicaragua, and Peru.

2) Fred Rewey’s Nomad Cigar Co. has released the SA-17, a sister blend to the C-276. It is the seventh full-production Nomad cigar from Tobacalera A.J. Fernandez in Estelí. “I love working with tobacco at A.J. Fernandez’s factory,” said Rewey. “Ask anyone around, he has amassed some of the best-aged, most diverse, quality tobacco. For me, blending is a creative process. It is nice to have that home in Estelí to blend and experiment.” The SA-17 comes complete with a San Andrés wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. Prices on the four vitolas—Robusto (5 x 50), Coronita (5.5 x 46), Toro (6 x 50), and Shorty (4 x 56)—range from $8.50 to $9.75.

3) Inside the Industry: Davidoff is adding a second blend to its successful AVO Syncro brand, which was released last year. The AVO Syncro Fogota will ship next month. The four-size line (MSRP $8.90-$11.90) sports an Ecuadorian Habano 2000 Clara wrapper, San Andrés binder, and fillers tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

4) From the Archives: In light of the recently announced FDA regulations cracking down on cigars, readers might want to revisit a 2010 interview we conducted with Ted King, author of The War on Smokers and the Rise of the Nanny State, which economist and syndicated columnist Walter E. Williams described as “not only a story about the attack on tobacco users, but a story about how decent Americans can be frightened, perhaps duped, into accepting phony science, attacks on private property rights, and rule of law. One need not be a smoker to be alarmed by the underlying hideousness of the anti-tobacco movement.”

5) Deal of the Week: Kiss My Ash Radio and Smoke Inn have unveiled a line of anti-FDA T-shirts so cigar smokers can wear their displeasure with the FDA’s oppressive regulations. The shirts sell for just $12.50 each. Proceeds benefit Cigar Rights of America’s efforts to defend cigar freedom.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Fratello Cigars

Cigar Insider: Ted King, Author of “The War on Smokers”

22 Feb

“Theodore King has done a yeoman’s job assembling evidence that the success of tobacco zealots has become a useful template for those who want to use health issues to control our lives. The War on Smokers and the Rise of the Nanny State is not only a story about the attack on tobacco users, but a story about how decent Americans can be frightened, perhaps duped, into accepting phony science, attacks on private property rights, and rule of law. One need not be a smoker to be alarmed by the underlying hideousness of the anti-tobacco movement.”WaronSmokers

So writes Walter E. Williams, syndicated columnist and professor of Eeconomics at George Mason University, about Ted King’s book, The War on Smokers and the Rise of the Nanny State. King is a tobacco enthusiast and avid pipe smoker who has worked in politics for three decades in his home state of Oklahoma and in Washington, D.C. He is a writer for The Oklahoma Constitution and lives on a farm with his family, including several dogs. I recently spoke with King about his book and the ever-expanding war on smokers.

Stogie Guys: What made you decide to write The War on Smokers?

Ted King: I wrote The War on Smokers and the Rise of the Nanny State for therapy. Smoking bans are completely unjust, and they drive me NUTS! I had been going to www.smokersclub.com and thought: I can compile these stories I had read there, do my own research, and write a book about this issue. I didn’t know at the time that this would take me to England, Wales, and Ireland to further my research. That part was fun.

SG: In your book, you refer to the anti-tobacco movement as a “war on smokers,” not on smoking. Why?

TK: It is a war on smokers, not on smoking, because smokers are in the crosshairs of these anti-tobacco fanatics. These control-freak bastards want to tax the hell out of smokers, and some of them want to get smokers fired from their jobs. Some want smokers evicted from their domiciles. They even want to make smokers fill out a form for the “right” to purchase tobacco products. They want to screw smokers over. That is why I entitled the book the way I did.

SG: Who makes up the anti-tobacco movement? What drives them?

TK: The American Cancer, Heart, and Lung organizations, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Pfizer, the pharmaceutical company, are behind this crusade. The American Cancer, Heart, and Lung organizations have, in my humble opinion, subordinated their efforts to cure cancer to the primary goal of stamping out the enjoyment of tobacco products. Power to control, not save lives, is what drives them.

SG: Who funds the organizations of that push these laws?

TK: The American Cancer, Heart, and Lung organizations and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Pfizer are funding these efforts along with allies like the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, truth.org, and federal, state, and local health departments.

SG: What was the most surprising thing you learned while writing this book?

TK: Smoking bans are just the template for more bans, like bans on fireplaces and on certain foods, etc. In other words, they give rise to a bigger and more powerful nanny state. Chapter 9 in my book documents this effort to expand bans beyond smoking.

SG: What is the single most outrageous nanny state law that you came across?

TK: The most outrageous example is that in Holland it is now against the law to smoke tobacco inside public places, even though smoking pot is legal!

SG: What is the one message that smokers most need to tell nonsmokers who are ambivalent about these issues?

TK: They are coming for nonsmokers next! And nonsmokers do not need to be in the very few places where smoking is permitted if they don’t want to be. So smokers should be left alone in what are, for all intents and purposes, the ghettos of these persecuted people. They aren’t bothering nonsmokers.

SG: What will it take for us who oppose the anti-tobacco movement to win this war?

TK: The War on Smokers and the Rise of the Nanny State teaches smokers what they can do to win this war… and it is a war. In this election year, it is especially important to know where local and state candidates stand on smoking bans. Smokers must tell those who support bans they won’t vote for them. We must become the loudest special interest group of this and future elections!

Many thanks to Mr. King for taking the time to talk to us. He wanted readers to know that cigar enthusiasts who purchase a membership to Cigar Rights of America for three years or more will receive a free autographed copy of The War on Smokers and the Rise of the Nanny State. Get your copy by joining CRA or by purchasing a copy from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Stogie Commentary: Smoking Bans Revisited

7 Apr

With traditionally cigar-friendly locales like Dallas and North Carolina set to enact smoking bans soon, today presents a good opportunity to revisit our case against these unjust and tyrannical laws.

No SmokingRegular readers will recall that, over the years, we’ve written a great deal about the lamentable spread of state and local smoking bans. While my colleagues and I try to keep our web magazine focused more on tobacco and less on politics, some issues—predominantly taxes and bans—cannot and should not be avoided.

So, here I intend to piece together many of the arguments we and others have made against the draconian smoking ban movement. My goals are threefold: (1) to potentially convince those who remain unconvinced, (2) to refresh our memories, and (3) to provide fellow brothers of the leaf with ammunition for their own debates on the subject.

Protect Whom?

One of our first commentaries on this subject was written back in May of 2006. It was prompted by city officials in Calabasas, California, who had approved a law that prohibits all smoking outdoors (except for in city-approved designated “smoking areas”). Given the complete lack of scientific data regarding outdoor secondhand smoke, I concluded that Calabasas officials weren’t trying to “protect” nonsmokers—they were trying to “protect” smokers, the very people who are consciously choosing to smoke.

That realization shouldn’t have come as a surprise. After all, the aim of every smoking ban, whether outdoors or inside private buildings, is for the government to control the actions of consenting adults.

The argument that bans are needed to protect the waitresses, bartenders, busboys, etc. who work in smoking facilities is also ill-conceived. As our friend Jacob Grier (a bartender) recently pointed out in an op-ed, there are many jobs that expose workers to riskier activities (such as Oregon’s requirement of full-service gas stations, which exposes attendants to harmful gas fumes). Besides, if secondhand smoke is a main concern, one can simply opt for a career or an employer that self-regulates tobacco use in the workplace.

Funny Science

In the open air or inside a bar, “health concerns” seem to be a mere ruse to disguise a movement of politicians, bureaucrats, and busybodies who would simply rather not smell, be near, or tolerate tobacco. Keep in mind that the notion of secondhand smoke as an epidemic is totally overblown.

While the AFL-CIO claims that “secondhand smoke is estimated to cause 65,000 deaths per year in the U.S.,” that number is just plain wrong. It’s 20 times the estimate of the Center for Disease Control, and even the CDC estimate was roundly rejected by a federal court. Thomas A. Lambert’s “The Case Against Smoking Bans” summarizes how various agencies and groups used biased “scientific” studies to make secondhand smoke appear to be risky enough to merit “a significant intrusion on the personal liberty of business owners and their customers.”

It’s Economics, Stupid

Famed George Mason University economist Walter E. Williams argues that smoking bans persist and spread despite common sense because “the cost to nonsmokers to impose their will on smokers, say, in a restaurant, bar, or airplane, is zero, or close to it.” The act of voting for politicians who will impose majority rule over minority rights is inexpensive, and zero-priced activities have sub-optimal outcomes.

Allowing the market to dictate smoking preferences, however, provides for choice. Some establishments will cater to smokers. Others, if demand merits, will spring up as profit-motivated business owners ban smoking to cater to desired preferences. Here in northern Virginia, in the absence of any smoking ban (though a statewide ban is forthcoming), many if not most restaurants are currently smoke-free.

Choose Liberty

The most compelling argument against smoking bans, in my opinion, is the notion that consenting adults have rights to do with their bodies what they so please, and private business owners have rights to offer the accommodations they so choose. Whatever the perceived social ill, government regulation and intervention is usually a “cure” worse than the disease.

Patrick A

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Commentary: The Cost of ‘Smoke Free’ Air

27 Mar

We try not to wax too political (or economical) here – after all, we prefer cigars to politics – but every once in awhile a political pundit just gets the whole smoking ban issue perfectly right. In this case, it’s famed George Mason University economist Walter E. Williams.

Smoking MoneyIn a recent column, Dr. Williams explained that when anti-smokers use the government to ban smoking, they ignore economics and common sense:

The cost to nonsmokers to impose their will on smokers, say, in a restaurant, bar or airplane, is zero, or close to it. They just have to get the legislature to do their bidding. When the cost of something is zero, there’s a tendency for people to take too much of it. You say, “Williams, in my book, there can never be too much smoke-free air!” Here’s a little test. Say your car’s out of gas and stuck in a blizzard. You wave me down for assistance. I say, “I’ll be glad to give you a lift to safety, but I’m smoking in my car.” How likely is it that you’ll turn down my assistance in an effort to avoid tobacco smoke? You might be tempted to argue, “That’s different.” It’s not different at all. The cost of a smoke-free environment is not what you’re willing to pay.

Say you don’t permit smoking in your house. When I visit, I offer to pay you $100 for each cigarette you permit me to smoke. Instantaneously, I’ve raised the cost of your maintaining a smoke-free environment. Retaining smoke-free air in your home costs the sacrifice of $100. Of course, I could offer you higher amounts, and economic theory predicts that at some price, you’ll conclude your 100 percent smoke-free air isn’t worth it.

Air that’s either 100 percent smoke-filled or 100 percent smoke-free is probably sub-optimal. At zero prices there will either be too much smoking or too little smoking. The problem in our society is that laws have created too much smoke-free air. To a large degree, it’s the fault of smokers, who haven’t created a cost to smoke-free air.

My rule is by no means absolute. There are instances where I put up with zero-priced smoke-free air, and there are other instances where I don’t. It all depends on the cost to me. I think other smokers ought to adopt the same agenda. Say you’re asked to do some volunteer work. You might answer, “Yes, if I’m allowed to smoke.” This strategy might also be a nice way to get out of doing something without saying no. Just ask whether smoking is permitted.

The economic lesson to extract from all of this is that zero prices lead to sub-optimal outcomes, and it doesn’t just apply to the smoking issue. How would you like zero prices at the supermarket or clothing store? If there were, what do you think you’d see on the shelves when you arrived? If you said, “Nothing, because people would take too much,” go to the head of the class.

All too often, anti-smoking zealots overlook the adverse consequences smoking bans impose on individual freedom and like in this case sub-optimal economic outcomes. They cant be bothered with these realities in their furor.

Many thanks to Dr. Williams for this important, straightforward column.

The Stogie Guys

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