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How To Plan A Smoke-Friendly Trip

Jul 10, 2008
From one perspective, the dramatic rebound of premium cigars couldn't have come at a better time. After decades of competition from cigarettes, the gradual deterioration (through age) of its customer base, and decreased consumer interest in tobacco products generally, the sudden early-nineteen-nineties resurgence of interest in premium cigars was instrumental in keeping the industry alive. After fourth quarter industry growth in 1992 (the first in years), the launch of new magazines devoted to the hobby of cigar smoking, and a proliferation of cigar bars and specialty shops, cigars were trendy for the first time in decades.

But the timing was also somewhat ironic. Between a high-profile class-action suit against cigarette companies and controversies over cigarette advertising - not to mention a general decline in the number of smokers - the world's cigar makers found themselves experiencing new popularity at a time when their industry was also facing new marketing challenges. Along with these changes came a gradual increase in the number of buildings, towns, and sometimes entire states where smoking of all kinds was regulated. All those new cigar smokers found themselves restricted from enjoying their new hobby in airports, restaurants, and entire localities.

All of which raises a question - if you're a smoker traveling the United States, what are your options? To what parts of the United States can you travel if you're hoping to enjoy a box of fine cigars alongside the new sights and sounds?

There's no easy answer to that question, because individual towns and cities within an overall smoking-friendly state can enact their own forms of anti-smoking legislation. But in terms of statewide laws, here is a brief guide to the states with the most permissive - and the most restrictive - smoking legislation.

First of all, the overall news is - if you're planning a true cigar-lover's vacation, you might want to stick to the South (no surprise there) or parts of the Midwest. Of the eighteen states that allow smoking in bars of all kinds, as well as in casinos, restaurants and workplaces, quite a few are in one of these two regions of the country.

Among the southern states with permissive smoking laws are Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. Tobacco plays an important role in the history of many of these states: Virginia was a major tobacco producer and smoking hub, not to mention the place where many Union soldiers first discovered the habit of cigar smoking during the Civil War. North Carolina was the scene of the discovery of Brightleaf tobacco, and the home of Durham, a major tobacco city. South Carolina was also, early on, a big tobacco producer.

Other very smoke-positive states include the Midwestern states Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. Perhaps smoking helps deal with the harsh winters for which many of these states are infamous. The same beat-the-cold explanation may apply in Alaska, another state with maximally permissive smoking laws, and Kentucky, which I would have counted as a "Midwestern" state, except that some Kentuckians take violent exception to this designation. (Some also don't like it if you call them "southern.") Rounding out the list of the top pro-smoking states are Pennsylvania and Wyoming.

As for the bottom of the list: if you like smoking in bars, restaurants, casinos and workplaces, stay out of Arizona, Delaware, Washington State and Washington D.C., Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Utah, and - no surprise - California. All of these states have enacted the least permissive, widest-scale smoking bans at the statewide level. Not only that, but several of them are cold - it's hard to imagine a worse fate than traipsing around Minneapolis or St. Paul in winter, with an unlightable stogie, exiled from your favorite bar. In Arizona and California, at least it's warm enough out on the sidewalk.

States that allow at least some indoor, public smoking include Tennessee, Arkansas, and Montana, where some bars and casinos allow smoking, as well as Hawaii, Oklahoma, and South Dakota, where bars, casinos and restaurants that allow smoking may be found. Most of the other states have heavier but not full restrictions. (And as for Nevada, if you're wondering - well, you can smoke in some casinos and bars, but not anywhere that serves food.)

Wherever you go, if you're worried about encountering roadblocks to smoking, call ahead to your hotel or visit the city's web page. After all, local ordinances can be as restrictive as any statewide ban. Do research first.
About the Author
CigarFox provides you the opportunity to build your own sampler of the finest cigars that include cigar brands like Montecristo, Romeo & Julieta, H Upmann, Macanudo, Cohiba, Partagas, Gurkha and many more. Choose from more than 1200 different cigars! Other cigar products include cigar humidors, cigar boxes, and cigar accessories like Zippo Lighters.
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