Thursday, January 19, 2006
"Open the Old Cigar Box"
RJ Reynolds opened a new store in Chicago targeting refugee smokers driven from their favorite bar, coffee shop, etc. by laws banning smoking in the public sphere. The Marshall McGearty Tobacco Lounge in Chi-town's upscale North Side, services those cigarette smokers jonesing for a new home. "It's the only place around that I can drink coffee and read the papers and smoke my cigarettes anymore," as one client put it. But from my over-stuffed wingback chair at Blooms Tobacco on Pittsburgh's South Side, I can hardly shed a tear.
Cigars have been banned from the public realm since Eleanor Roosevelt threw Winston Churchill out of the Lincoln Bedroom. We're scorned on the streets, in restaurants, at bus stops and on train platforms. When restaurants tightened up smoking rules so many years ago, among other things creating the first "Non-Smoking" sections, cigarette smokers turned a blind eye while their cigar chomping brethern were swept out the door. Cigar smokers are so thoroughly ostracized that cigars are even banned in the House that Art Built! With apologies to Martin Niemoller, long persecuted Cigar smokers can't caugh up too much sympathy: "First they came for the Cigars, then they came for the Cigarettes..."
Health zealots are apoplectic that RJ Reynolds might skirt no-smoking laws. Some are looking closely to find ways to shut the smoking parlor down, others energetically predict its failure. With NYC and Chicago smoke free, and other cities following their lead, one wonders what more the smoke-free camp can possibly hope to accomplish. Has success quenched the fire of this purist purge, thus sparing Marshall McGearty. Or will this last bastion of tobacco, where two or three might gather in the enthusiastic pursuit of bad health, be relegated to the ash-bin of history? In spite of my indignance, I can't help but to be sympathetic to cigarette smokers in the Waterloo Parlor of Chicago. Here's to RJ Reynolds, and the last gasp of the mighty cigarette! If only because we cigar smokers well know that it sucks to smoke alone.
Posted by 1111 at 1:55 PM