I just got done reading this impassioned plea for… No, that’s not right. I just got done reading this inane plea for continuing to outlaw cigar lounges in the state of Washington (HERE). It’s written by a couple of guys who serve on Boards of Health for their respective counties, so you can guess at their motivation for writing this.
Before I jump into the inanities of their editorial piece let me provide some background on that dreary, cold and wet state they call a home. You can’t smoke in a car, you can’t smoke in a bar, you can’t smoke there or anywhere in Washington (unless you are at home and all your children and pets are wearing gas masks).
Now that I have brought you up to speed, let me dive into the inanities. First off, what they are talking about is a cigar lounge. So that “$628” spent by each household (which is, I’m sure, the average. If they wanted to figure out what the median amount paid by each household is it would be a significantly lower number.) to pay for “smoking-related health care” does not apply here because a cigar is not a cigarette.
Lumping cigar smokers together with cigarette smokers (and chewing tobacco users for that matter) is unfair for a number of reasons. First off, cigar smokers in general smoke less frequently than cigarette smokers do. Many cigar smokers will have a couple cigars a week, many less often than that. In addition to that, cigar smokers almost never inhale cigar smoke, which makes getting lung cancer from smoking only cigars a bit tricky (Yes, cigar smoking can cause other types of cancer like throat or mouth cancer).
Alas, that plucky Health Board duo who wrote this article does not make a distinction between the different groups of smokers. If I had to guess, I would say that of that “$628” that each family has to spend for smoking related illnesses less than $10 is spent on illnesses caused by cigars. Actually, strike that, it’s probably less than $1 because cigar smokers, especially those who smoke enough cigars to approach the danger zone of getting cancer from cigar smoking, are usually wealthy and will be paying their own hospital bills.
“But what about those poor bastards who can only find work at a cigar lounge?” In an effort not to forget about those brave souls who are victims of second and third hand smoke I will present you with this observation: Most of the people who work at brick and mortar cigar shops and cigar lounges seem to also [wait for it] smoke cigars!
Oh, sure, the writers of the editorial that got me so worked up love to pull at the heartstrings. I guess their line of reasoning is that if they can’t fool someone with their intentionally misleading statistics they will get them by regaling them with sob stories about how Timmy’s mom took a job at the Smoke Shoppe (because that was the only job she could find during these difficult economic times) and then died later that week from a “smoking-related” disease. If you think I’m kidding about the one week thing you need to read this.
Alright, I think we can all agree that the cases against cigar lounges as articulated by the boys from the Board of Health from such-and-such counties are bull. Now lets get into the case for cigar lounges.
First off, they’re awesome. At a cigar lounge you will probably have access to a variety of cigars and, in all likelihood, some libations as well. You get to sit and smoke and drink and talk to your heart’s content. So that’s a plus.
Secondly, more cigar lounges means more jobs. The duo from the Board of Health tried to dismiss this by saying “…a 2010 study found that within two years after the Clean Indoor Air law went into effect [outlawing smoking in any public space in Washington], sales in Washington bars and taverns were higher than expected.” That’s such a neat turn of phrase: “than expected.” What exactly was “expected” of bar sales? My money is on there being an easily discernible inflection point for bar profits right when that law was passed. And second: WE ARE TALKING ABOUT CIGAR LOUNGES NOT CIGARETTE LOUNGES!!!!
Even though those knuckleheads who wrote that article gloss over the jobs created angle I won’t. More cigar lounges means there will need to be more jobs. Owners of cigar stores will get to reopen their lounges, which leads to more foot traffic, more revenues and that all leads to more jobs.
But it doesn’t stop at just those jobs that are directly created by the legalization of cigar lounges. There are the ancillary businesses that will be bolstered by legalizing cigar lounges: new furniture will be needed, ads will have to be placed, more books will need to be kept, more gas used, carpenters will be called on to rebuild lounge areas, painters will be needed and so on.
Then there are the jobs that will be created in the cigar industry since more people would be smoking cigars if cigar lounges were legalized in Washington. The humble torcedors deftly crafting premium cigars, proud farmers who fertilize their crops with their passion, not to mention the legion of marketers, accountants, lawyers, salesmen and others who are needed to navigate the cigar market all would be enriched if Washington would approve the legalization of cigar lounges.
My last reason for supporting the legalization of cigar lounges in Washington is that it is the right thing to do. I know it might sound old fashioned but I think that grown ups should be allowed to take responsibility for their lives.
I’m completely aware of the fact that smoking cigars is not the ideal way to keep care of my body. But if you could please lift your gaze a little and look down the “ideal” road a little ways you will see some pretty horrifying things. It’s a road that is strewn with the poor who are made poorer because their legislature thought they should be taxed more for smoking cigarettes.
Lift your gaze a little bit higher now and you will see that there are now many thousands more who are incarcerated because they did not yield to their country’s ever stricter enforcement of laws against this or that foible.
If you lift your gaze just a little more you will see the death and destruction that necessarily follows the criminalization of people who are otherwise good people. Here you will see whole towns laid to waste by organized crime syndicates Hell bent on controlling their slice of the now illicit trade of tobacco.
Now raise your gaze up to take a glimpse of the end of the road. Here you will see the most disturbing image. It’s an image of a nation full of slaves. The people here, if you can still call them people, no longer are told what they cannot do but what they have to do. All freedoms have been traded in for a bit of security. The people toil for their despots from cradle to grave ignorant of the freedoms their ancestors once had. And the most frightening thing of all is that they are all smiling even though their masters are lurking in the shadows with their whips at the ready.