Tommy Zarzecki (aka: Tommy Zman)
So there we were, a gazillion lovers of the leaf just hanging out, enjoying the little things in life: our homes, family, a charred hunk of flesh atop a fiery grill, a nice stiff belt of malted grains after a long hard day of work… and of course, a good premium hand rolled cigar picked fresh from our well-stocked, cedar-lined humidors. Oh yes… life was simply grand…
You see, guys, "WAS" is the key word right there. We the cigar loving public and the industry that makes our beloved smoky treats – well, there’s no other way to say it, but we ALL got fat, lazy and stupid. Ignorant dumb-asses, so many of us, thinking that this tidal wave of an anti-smoking movement was all about cigarettes. How naïve could we possibly be? But, I guess when you really think about it, how can you blame us, I mean everybody knows that cigars and cigarettes are completely different and you can’t possibly compare the two, right? Everyone is aware that premium cigars are a naturally grown artisanal product, while a pack of cigarettes is loaded with enough chemically induced garbage to give the Toxic Avenger a nuclear woody… right? Ask anyone with a conscious thinking brain and they’ll attest to the fact that just because they’re both tobacco doesn’t mean they are anything alike… you know just like finely aged scotch and backyard moonshine are both alcohol, but… like Claratin and street grade heroin are both drugs, but… like a Peter Lugar’s porterhouse and a Big Mac are cuts of grilled beef, but…um… Right? Helloooo…
And here-in lies the problem, my puro pounding peeps: the anti-smoke Nazi zealots DON’T know the difference, they DON’T WANT to know the difference, and frankly they DON’T GIVE a RAT’S ASH as their only goal is to eradicate every single form of tobacco from the face of the earth during our lifetimes. So the question becomes – How in the name of God do you fight an opponent like this… a group who has one goal in mind, an army of big name doctors, advocacy groups, and clueless politicians behind them, who have no intent to settle or compromise?
F@#k me. (Yeah, I thought you’d say that.)
In my humble Polack opinion, the problem has stemmed from the fact that the cigar industry as a whole was completely reactionary as opposed to hunkering down into the trenches while delivering a pre-emptive strike. I don’t mean to pick on the family I love, but the truth is that it wasn’t until a few damaging bills and onerous tax increases were passed that the industry as a whole came together, put on their battle gear and went to war. And do not mistake the facts for anything less, people, for WE the cigar loving public are at war. U.S. General, William T. Sherman coined the phrase, "War is Hell" and everyone involved in the cigar world is truly in for the hellish fight of their very existence. The smoke Nazi contingent is hell-bent on delivering genocide to our beloved industry, and in the words of John Paul Jones, another famous fighter, I think we all need to collectively raise our robustos and say, "I have not yet begun to fight!"
Okay… In fairness to the wonderful and hard-working people of our industry, in the past, we never really needed to fend for ourselves, especially in the mid-to-late 90′s when cigar smoking was highly celebrated and you were almost considered an un-cool tool if you didn’t puff a Punch or Partagas. As the new millennium hit, we were coming off a decade of decadence, where cigars were exalted, new brands flooded the market, retail sales hit record-breaking highs, and new aficionados joined the ranks by the tens of thousands. I guess you can say, who would have perceived that there were really any worries? But in the early 2000′s, the problems started to mount as draconian smoking laws were introduced across many states and tobacco taxes started to cause pain to all involved. But it wasn’t until February 4, 2009 that we all agreed that our freedoms were being challenged and this seething hate for tobacco was spiraling out of control. The State Children’s Health Insurance Program was signed into action and the tobacco industry became the go-to scape-goat once more.
Finally, cigar industry leaders got together to form the grass roots group, Cigar Rights of America (CRA). For the first time ever, our industry had a mouthpiece, a lobby that would stand up to legislators, dispel the myths, and educate those who didn’t have a clue. And may I say that I don’t know exactly how the good peeps at the CRA do it, because the amount of people in high places who don’t have a clue is simply staggering. Getting U.S. congressmen and senators to back H.R. 1639 / S. 1461 – The Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act, has been their main focus as of late, along with keeping the FDA’s vile noses out of our goddamned business.
The facts are as follow from the cigarrights.org website…
- All 50 states in America have some form of smoking ban and local, state, and federal governments are working to pass more-restrictive legislature.
- Additionally, 48 states in America have enacted cigar taxes. Some states have gone as far as taxing cigars at a rate of 75%.
- On February 4, 2009, President Obama signed the State Children’s Health Insurance Plan (SCHIP) which raised the federal excise tax on cigars to 52.75%.
Now to date, the CRA has collected close to 170,000 of the quarter of a million petitions that they feel will make a difference in the mind of many legislators. But this isn’t enough, my friends, as WE the PEOPLE have to do our part as well. Even if you’ve signed the petition, it’s our duty as loyal cigar smokers to make some serious noise, letting the political opposition know that they are going to be held accountable if they take away our liberties and personal freedoms of choice. The time is NOW to post on the social media outlets, write the emails, make the phone calls and rattle the cages of those who need to hear it most!
So in closing, my thoughts are this: If you love smoking cigars as I do, and if cigars have become a part of the very fabric of your lifestyle, then YOU and I must make saving the cigar industry a top priority in our daily lives. Okay, you may be thinking, "that’s a littler extreme, Zman… a TOP priority? With my job, marriage, kids, home, mortgage payment, yada, yada, yada… you want me to make saving the cigar industry a top priority right up there with, well, you know… my TOP priorities?"
"HELL FRIGGIN GOD DAMNED STRAIGHT, YEAH I WANT YOU TO!" Because if you don’t, if we all don’t, the cigars we love WILL BE either taxed out of existence or made illegal via prohibition, putting close to 100,000 people out of work. This is not propaganda or over exaggerated scare tactics – this is the WAY IT IS, and we had all better make some old-school politico stooges soil their collective drawers when they hear the deafening roar of American liberty in action.
So my final question is: Are you with me? Because for all our sakes, you had better be.
Stay Smoky My Friends,
Tommy Zman – aka the Social Cromag
|Tommy Zman. is truly an obsessive enjoyer of life. Growing up in the bowels of northern New Jersey, parented by an eccentric Polish father and a neurotic Italian mother, what else could this man possibly be other than a humorist? Zman’s a "real" guy – someone who considers himself a throwback to a time when men were kings of the castle, and smoking a cigar in public didn’t label you an outcast and a pariah. He’s totally old-school, a down to earth guy with traditional values. Visit Zman’s Blog: Rants From a Social Cromag, and see his work @ www.tommyzman.com Wanna reach the Zman? —> firstname.lastname@example.org Find Tommy Zman on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.|