Friday, August 6, 2010

Florida Smokes

Like a pendulum do.

I don't smoke, see. I said it before but I guess nobody heard me. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy a fine cigar after a good meal, of course, nor does it prevent me from bumming an occasional cig from a gal-pal while propping up the bar and throwing back glasses of you-know-what at you-know-where.

But that doth not a smoker make. Compared to my chain-smoking chums, I'm just a poseur in the smokeshop sweepstakes. Though I am able to experience anything, I don't feel any inclination to be tethered to any traits. As much as they say nicotine is so frightfully addictive ("they" are wrong), I don't find myself craving it. Never had a nic fit. I don't even keep tobacco around the house, except for the stash of European-style Snuff down in the wine cellar. I don't have the time or the patience to maintain my humidor properly these days, so I just drop in on the tobacconist whenever I know a good cigar might be in order for the evening's festivities. I'm not really a smoker, though my good friends in the Jehovah's Witnesses community would likely disagree.

I said all that to say all this:

I love Florida and have been spending more and more time there, but man, the smoking scene there is a total disaster. Although they don't have a reprehensible smoking ban like Louisville, they do have a new $1 tax on already-pricey-locally cigarettes that would instill pride in the pirates who explored the state back in the good old days. Marlboros can be high as seven bucks a pack at touristy gas stations. Forget it, I'll go back to 1902 if they'll have me, and smoke Cubebs with John Carter of Mars.

Something as all-American as cigarettes have now become so prohibitively expensive to many people in Florida that they're willing to try new cockamamie options like the electronic cigarette, which is about as realistic a substitute for tobacco as a fleshlight is a substitute for a girlfriend.

Being so close to Cuba, I keep expecting to find all kinds of Cuban-family-owned smokeshops that carry overwhelming stocks of fascinating brands I've never seen before, but if such places exist around the Gulf, I haven't found 'em yet. Everyone I know down there seems to smoke really God-awful crap like 305. Being locally made in Miami by a small local company, I wish I could support 'em the same way I do Kentucky's Best, but these are honestly the nastiest death utensils it's ever been my privilege to puff.

That honor would be taken by another Florida product, Remington, except they claim to be a cigar, not a cigarette, as a means of trying to exempt itself from the cigarette tax. Very clever, but tastes awful, Sir. They seem to be just another Z-grade poverty-level cig that's covered in cigar wrapper rather than white paper. And they taste like pencil shavings wrapped in bathroom tissue. In Haiti.

So, my fellow Kentuckians and Transylvanians, count your blessings that though we have our various and sundry crosses to bear here in the dark and bloody ground, at least we know a thing about a thing or two when it comes to tobacco. I think I'll nip down to J. Shepherd's and partake of the sacrament right now, in fact; I'm starting to have a nic fit.

- - JSH

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