Thursday, November 6, 2008

Will President Obama be "cigar friendly?"

Now that America has spoken by electing Barack Obama its 44th president, there's no doubt "change" is in the cards. All sorts of questions have arisen since he made his victory speech. Will he continue to lean "left" as he did in the Senate, or will he rule more as a "centrist?" Will he raise taxes on small businesses? Will he push through a national health care program? And so on, and so on…

My question, and primarily because my job depends on it, is will our new president-elect lend an ear to the plight of American cigar smokers? During their campaigns, both Obama and McCain vowed they would stand up to the "special interest" lobbies. That always made me a little queasy because "big tobacco" and a few other groups such as the IPCPR (International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers), the CRA (Cigar Rights of America), and the CAA (Cigar Association of America) are all we have to defend our rights to enjoy one of life's very special pleasures.

I know dozens of cigar smokers who smoke only one or two cigars a week. They may not be the majority, but they really look forward to that cigar, if only to escape the worries of the world in a cloud of smoke for an hour or two. I would hate see them lose that very special quality time.

Obama's selection of Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff is already making me nervous. Emanuel is the No. 4 ranking Democrat in the House. His record shows that he leans stridently to the left, and has allegedly never reached across the aisle, so we may be in for one heck of fight. Certainly SCHIP will pass with flying colors when it comes around again.

On the other hand, with President-elect Obama's open-mindedness on foreign policy, we may finally see the Cuban embargo lifted. That would certainly be the catalyst to a second "cigar boom," but what good will it do if an "embargo" is placed on smoking altogether?

As cigar smokers, we’re all adults, and we know the risks tobacco presents. Even Mr. Obama has been a cigarette smoker and partaken of the occasional cigar. So if he wants to earn my vote in 2012, I hope he'll think long and hard about how much he enjoyed those cigars before he signs any legislation that will adversely affect the rights of good, hardworking, tax-paying Americans.

Your thoughts?

~ Gary Korb

6 comments:

Carlos said...

If Rahm Emanuel leans "stridently to the left", then why have most republicans said that he's a "great choice"? Also, a great article in the New York Times Magazine last week said that one of Clinton's big mistakes was NOT appointing a Washington insider to be his Chief of Staff - so Obama's already done something better than Clinton.

Look, if he likes cigars, and reports say he does, he's not going to lump us in with the cigarette-suicide hordes who are (mostly) shortening their lives (and life is to precious to shorten).

Angela Mayou said on ABC that Obama had "mother wit" (common sense). This will hopefully help him notice the stupidity about cigars on the NIH website!

thud said...

I think it's interesting to hear Rahm called a radical liberal, since right now he's getting a lot of flak for being a Clintonian centrist.

Regardless, I think there are plenty of us liberals who are not going to support strong anti-smoking laws. Remember, a lot of us back relaxed drug laws. That is hard to square with smoking bans.

Anonymous said...

Gary, you are spot on. I just happen to be a cigar aficionado who would not take kindly to Famous going out of business as I'm a frequent customer of your joint.

I hate that the government sticks its nose into my cigar smoke and goes so far as to even say I cannot smoke outdoors

And lastly, I was thinking the very same thing vis a vis Obama restoring trade, etc. with Cuba although I hope that doesn't cause Habanos to lower it quality.

And finally, the fact that I am thinking about all of these things as a black man who will think long and hard about my 2012 vote if he screws with my pleasure of firing up an Ashton VSG Wizard or Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona or La Unica Cameroon Belicoso or Famous Selection Honduran 2000 (get them both back PLEASE); well he just better not!!!

Carlos said...

Sorry, Maya Angelou, not Angela Mayou (I'm getting over a cold!)

Marcos El Malo said...

I appreciate that this is a concern for us as cigar smokers, but really, this country has much bigger issues to deal with first.

That said, I'm what was onc known as a conservative, before the radical right re-defined the term to mean "religious fundamentalist overly concerned with what his neighbor is doing". To someone on the radical right, McCain was a lefty until he picked Sarah Palin as his VP. Rahm Emanuel is, in reality, a centrist establishment Dem. Probably crooked as heck, but not part of the fringe left by any means.

I ended up voting for Bob Barr, but I have to admit that I've been bitten by the "Obama Hope Bug". The GOP has run out of ideas for the time being, and I don't expect any improvement until they figure out whether they're for individual empowerment or for a religious government.

David said...

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