Ok, this intro is going to be a bit of a climb for some. And this IS a longer article than usual, but hang in there and you’ll get some food for thought about “Cigarism.”
“Racism is a product of the complex interaction in a given society of a race-based worldview with prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination. Racism can be present in social actions, practices, or political systems (e.g., apartheid) that support the expression of prejudice or aversion in discriminatory practices. The ideology underlying racist practices often includes the idea that humans can be subdivided into distinct groups that are different in their social behavior and innate capacities and that can be ranked as inferior or superior. Racist ideology can become manifest in many aspects of social life. Associated social actions may include xenophobia, otherness, segregation, hierarchical ranking, supremacism, and related social phenomena.
Today, the use of the term “racism” does not easily fall under a single definition. It is usually found in, but usage is not limited to, law, the social and behavioral sciences, humanities, and popular culture.” (Wiki)
Now let’s look at “cigarism” and see what we get. You say you’ve never heard of the term? Hmmmm. That’s unusual. “Cigarism” has been around for decades but has become a major social and legislative issue since 1964 and one of major concern since August 8th of this year. Cigarism is the resultant philosophy of the few that is based on the ideology of stereotyping and discriminating against a legally manufactured product. This causes constant confusion and inflammatory confrontations both ideologically and physically within society.
What it comes down to is encased in the famous line by the Captain as said to Paul Newman’s character in the classic film, “Cool Hand Luke,” when he says in his affected southern drawl after striking Neuman’s character with a blackjack, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”
Ain’t that the truth? Now, I know that no one wants to be preached at. So I won’t. But until the public, the legislators, the scientists, the educators, and the parents of nine-year-old cigar smokers begin to realize that what is seriously going on in the Cigar Industry is rational, then indeed – we need to communicate.
One question I have to ask – will anyone listen? George Wallace wouldn’t. Phyllis Schlafly wouldn’t. President Obama wouldn’t (and how hypocritical is that?), the Congress and the Senate wouldn’t. It’s a tough battle we face. Can we win it all? No. Look at race relations today, even after tense decades, and pages upon pages of legislation to make things equal. But we can come to a compromise. And that’s what the cigar community has to strive to do. Yes, the FDA has the fire power and all we have is the fire to light our cigars. But we can still proselytize, go out and educate the public.
The other question I must pose then is – will the cigar community actively do it?
(Note here: If you find this boring then try reading all 499 pages of the FDA’s document. It’s something you have to do if you really give a damn about this industry. All play and no work makes Irv a dull boy – and in this case, possibly out of work.)
Unfortunately methinks not. A downer – yeah, for sure. But let’s look at the phenomenon of “racism” again and see how it correlates with “cigarism.” And why changing the FDA’s dictum may seem like a Sisyphean task but really isn’t within the proper perspective? In brief: “You can use Sisyphean to describe things that require a lot of hard work and yet will never be truly finished. Keeping a house clean can feel Sisyphean, and so can deciding on a movie that everyone in a family will enjoy. The word comes from the character Sisyphus in Greek mythology, who was sentenced for his wrongdoing to push a boulder up a hill and watch it roll back down, again and again, forever.” (vocabulary.com)
That first sentence in bold type is key to understanding that we have a chance to change things: “You can use Sisyphean to describe things that require a lot of hard work and yet will never be truly finished.” Racism is far from over, but we have made strides that would shock the peoples of the past. Hell, look who’s in the White House! The Reverend Jesse Jackson shed tears when President-elect Barak Obama won the election because he never thought he’d see the day that an African-American would sit in the Oval Office. (Some pundits still believe his tears were running down his cheeks because he thought he would be the first black president.) Bigots still think it’s a nightmare.
Then again, look around you. Take a gander at any cigar shop in America, you see any sign posted that reads “Cigars only?” You bet there are. Walk by someone while smoking your cigar and get a hand by the nose gesture. Or tell someone you broker cigars and be asked “You can make a living doing that? Our job is to break through the ignorance. And the only way to shed the skin of ignorance is through development. The body and the mind have to grow in order to shed the old and allow the new to progress.
I know I’m harping on this relentlessly, but I will continue to do so until the raw nerves of courage are tapped into and we get off our butts and start to speak up. And I say to hell with letters to the legislators. Not only do they not read them – They can’t read save for the bigger numbers over the little numbers on election night that clearly gives them the win. Politicians are not in Washington to represent us; they are there to be re-elected. Period. McFly!?
The boycotts of the 50s and 60s brought to light the economic impact of racism. Sitting in the back of the bus wasn’t considered a problem until an exhausted Rosa Parks sat in the front of the bus bringing to the fore the idiocy of segregation. The riots in Watts wrenched the heads of people to take notice to finally acknowledge – “Houston, I believe we’ve had a problem here.” Is racism gone? Of course it isn’t. It makes up the fabric of our society like it or not. Really? It’s 2016. Look at the news (8.26.16) regarding using the “N” word in an email sent out announcing the disappointing news of losing an election in Alabama. “Midland City, Alabama, interim Mayor Patsy Capshaw Skipper denied using a racial epithet (the “N” word) to describe an opponent on Facebook this week and instead said hackers had likely compromised her account, local media reported Thursday.” (Washington Times) Hackers my ass Patsy. What? She’s an alleged racist who got caught being an alleged racist? Backpedaling is a required course for politicians as is “spinning.”
Will racism ever be completely eliminated? Will the restrictions on smoking ever be completely eradicated? NO! But we are making progress however slowly by educating the public about our product – the cigar. Will scholarly papers cause ignorance to vanish? Of course they won’t. At best they most likely will be ignored just like the 499 page FDA document that is accessible to all who care to wade through it – and it’s a slosher. But we CAN make headway – if we are diligent in our mission to educate.
Cigarism is here to stay I’m sad to say. But if – as a community, we work together we can continue to crack the toxic codes ensconced in racism and cigarism and allow the truth to set us free. The truth will always win – even if it takes decades to cross the finish line.