Cigars and Contemplation: The Reason Cigar Smoking is Better Than Anything Else
I will admit that I smoke an obnoxious amount of cigars on a regular basis. It is what my job entails, it is what I enjoy to do alone in my free time, it is what I enjoy doing when I am with friends (whether male or female). I bring cigars with me to work, I keep them at home in excess amounts, I am the guy who brings a case of cigars with me to weddings and nights out on the town. Basically, I like cigars. A lot. And I am not afraid to share with those who (are of age and) want to indulge in their own habits or try for the first time. Among the mixed looks of confusion, amazement, joy, and/or disdain from some people, the question of “Why…?” often arises.
In certain scenarios, disdain for the nasty habit of cigar smoking takes the lead. “Why would you smoke? It’s nasty, it’s pompous, it smells bad, you will get cancer…” etc. My reaction to these accusations is usually prompted with some sort of chuckle and a light sigh. Then I address each point. “Cigar smoking is not for everyone. Because it is an acquired taste, many people do indeed find it disgusting.” “Smoking does put the individual at greater risk for cancer, but rollers in the cigar factories who absorb more nicotine and other chemicals through their skin for decades still work every day and come away clean.” “Pomp and circumstance are relative. It is true that a lot of powerful and wealthy individuals were notorious for their tobacco vice, however, there were reasons and stories behind those characters”. Some of the most notable political leaders in the West, Ulysses S. Grant (18th President of the United States and American Civil War hero), Winston Churchill (WWI military Commander and former Prime Minister to the United Kingdom) smoked cigars in what is considered to be severe excess. Other literary and philosophical figures like J.R.R Tolkien and C.S. Lewis reportedly smoked cigars and pipe tobacco together while they discussed theological topics. If those people are the pompous, pretentious people in reference, why would I not want to emulate them?”
In fact, I do wish to emulate these figures. The brilliance, class, and power that these individuals maintained is exemplary. If I can gain insight and wisdom through sharing experiences and conversation the same way these individuals did, why would I choose to ignore that avenue?
This is why I love cigar smoking. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were known for their long theological and existential conversations over pipe tobacco and cigars. Because unlike cigarettes, cigars take time. Smoking a cigar is a lengthy process. In those moments, the individual is forced to be still; perfectly present. This provides time for contemplation, relaxation, meditation, all things that allow for the personal development of the mind and soul. When these activities are done with more than one person, conversations about life, liberty, politics, sports, religion, family life, personal struggles and the accountability that accompanies that, and so many other things occur. Conversations that I have been a part of with other people in these circumstances have granted me some of the greatest intellectual insights, allowed me to build trust with new friends, and have provided exchanges of vulnerability with my friends. Needless to say, some of the best times of my life have involved cigars and the scenarios in which they are present.
Furthermore, as I have continued to work in the cigar industry I have noticed the camaraderie among fellow cigar smokers. The cigar industry is unlike other industries in that there is competition for business, but there is little to no animosity between manufacturers, distributors, retailers, or customers. Sales representatives will sit at the same table smoking cigars and talk to one another; “How are the kids?”, “Been busy?”, “How are you doing?”, “Did you hear about…?”. Customers often visit different shops throughout the week, and no one cares. Retailers across the country are familiar with one another. In the same town or state, retailers know each others’ shops, their families, they share customers. There is an industry-wide amicable and symbiotic relationship that goes without saying. This level of respect and camaraderie plus the potential for personal and relational growth that happens when people smoke cigars allows for an unprecedented ability to solve the world’s greatest problems. At least that is what we all think and believe because as a community, we have helped one another out and will continue to do so.
My goal in this is not to convert people into cigar smokers (although I am not mad if that is the outcome), my purpose in writing this is to challenge the way people think about cigars and venture out to become better versions of themselves through various activities. The hope is that these activities improve relationships, build new relationships, and lead to self-improvement on multiple levels. That is the goal of the human condition, and I pray we may all find something to make those dreams come true.