On Tuesday October 30th, a piece of anti-tobacco legislation was passed by the New York City Council. It is now heading to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s desk where he has indicated he will sign this legislation into law. This included raising the age to purchase tobacco products to 21 and the elimination of coupons and promotional discounts toward tobacco products. This draconian measure should be looked at closely by tobacco enthusiasts. New York City measures have typically had a domino effect in other areas of the country. It has already been documented that Chicago and New Jersey are considering a raise to the age to buy tobacco. The purpose of this month’s column is not to debate this issue – because our position is clear – this is a violation of civil liberties to enjoy a legal product. It is to look at this in terms of the upcoming New York City elections.
Under the last twelve years of Bloomberg’s mayoral administration, New York City has been taking anti-smoking measure after anti-smoking measure. This includes excessive taxes and draconian smoking bans. This has been termed “Nanny State” politics by many – and it has spread to many other areas including plans to ban sugary drinks, limitation of trans-fats, etc. The idea here is that Bloomberg and the government are trying to tell citizens what is best for them – instead of allowing citizens to use common sense.
The issue of anti-tobacco legislation is probably not the most important issue in the upcoming mayoral race to choose a successor to Michael Bloomberg. At the same time, the use of tobacco products is something practiced by many citizens. In the case of premium cigars, that we cover on this web-site – we have tried to draw a distinction that cigars are not an addiction, but a lifestyle, a culture, and a craft. It’s a pleasure that we choose to endorse.
The two candidates in New York for Mayor – Bill De Blasio and Joe Lhota are very different. De Blasio did not issue a comment on this recent legislation passed by the City Council. Lhota’s spokeswoman commented indicating he opposes this because “it is not smart policy to make New York City’s counties inconsistent with counties on our borders.” Despite a massive lead in the polls, De Blasio could be playing a very careful game here with an election less than a week away – namely to stay away from the issue. While he might seem distant on this one, we do know De Blasio advocates Nanny State politics. If you think he doesn’t, he has already announced plans to push Bloomberg’s proposed ban on soft drinks above 16 ounces through.
On the other hand Lhota, in addition to opposing this action by the City Council has appeared at cigar lounges from time to time. While maybe not a Rudy Giuliani, it has been clear Lhota embraces the cigar culture to some extent.
And when we say De Blasio has a massive lead, the lead is somewhere between 40 and 50 points. Therefore, I ask if you are a cigar enthusiast, and someone who wants to protect your personable liberties, why would you vote for Bill De Blasio? Why would you re-election anyone in the City Council who approved this legislation? To this author, I cannot figure out how this translates to such a massive lead by De Blasio.
The other interesting point is what does the elimination of discounts and promotions mean to cigar events in New York?
It’s up to you New York…
This month we wrap up the 2013 Cigar Year on Thanksgiving (November 28th). We will officially close the year up in terms of eligible cigars for our 2013 Cigar of the Year Countdown that will begin on December 1st. The Volume #s for Editor’s Corner and Cigar Week Wrap will move to Volume 3. Any cigars released after Thanksgiving will not be eligible for the 2013 Countdown.
We also will be making a slight formula change to our numerical ratings. We are choosing to do this at the end of the cigar year such that all cigars scored this year. Next month we will document our criteria and vision for this year’s countdown.