May 15th, 2009
by James Leavey
The late Horace Greeley, founder of the New York Times, once said, “A cigar has a fire at one end and a fool at the other.”
I would defend Greeley’s (and anybody else’s) right to make such an insult, in the same way I’d defend the rights of a smoker to enjoy what is, in most countries, a product that is still legally on sale to adults. Even if they are actively discouraged from enjoying that product in a public place.
While you’re thinking about that, consider this, if there was a ban on ice cream and you were told you could purchase an ice but not lick it in public, how would you feel?
Oddly enough, despite the growing number of smoking bans around the world, there is only one country that has actually banned the sale as well as the public enjoyment of tobacco: Bhutan.
The rest continue to allow tobacco to be sold, albeit increasingly under the counter, presumably because taxation on smoking props up their revenues.
I know of several smokers who are considering taking a one-way cruise to China, which recently issued an edict to actively encourage its civil servants to smoke more, and boost the country’s economy.
Unfortunately for those desperate travelling smokers, China’s ’smoke-more-or-we’ll-fine-you’ edict has now been rescinded. But that shouldn’t stop you lighting up your favourite tobacco on many cruise ships.
That said, the days when a passenger could enjoy a pre- or post-prandial smoke in a cruise ship’s bar or restaurant are long gone. Many cruise ships actively discourage smokers, so it’s worth checking a cruise line’s smoking policy when you make that booking.
However, there are many cruise lines from whom you can usually book a tobacco-friendly cabin (usually one with a porthole) or suite (especially one with a balcony) where you can smoke to your heart’s content. Some ships, like Cunard’s Queen Victoria, have installed special smoking rooms where you can enjoy a fine cigar in comfort out of the rain.
On other tobacco-tolerant ships you can smoke on either the port or starboard decks, but not both; usually the side opposite to the one that houses the cr?che or children’s play area.
But it’s not good enough for cruise lines to adopt what appears to be a fairly civilised smoking policy and not think it through properly. For example, there’s no point encouraging a large group of smokers to exhale in a room where the only ventilation is a small ceiling fan, or the opening of the porthole.
And a range of fine cigars for sale to passengers should, I believe, always include many notable Havanas, especially Montecristo no.2s and Partagas Lusitanias, as well as several of the finer Davidoffs.
I also prefer not to smoke on deck when there are no ashtrays available. Yes, you can flick ash and dog-ends or cigar butts over the side, but it’s so ungainly. And the wind may blow it back in your face.
Then you really would look like a fool.
And the ship would look equally foolish for embarrassing its passengers, especially the well-heeled ones who can afford the luxury of burning expensive Cuban leaf for pleasure.
By the way, everybody keeps telling me that one of the very worst things that can happen to a ship at sea is for it to catch fire. I’ve always thought the remedy is quite simple: sink the ship.
Just don’t ever let me catch you igniting a liner. Such behaviour is crass and unacceptable, no matter what the provocation..
The first cigar smoked on Cunard’s new liner, The Queen Victoria
James Leavey, The United Kingdom Regional Director of The Smoker’s Club, went on board the Queen Victoria in Southampton on Sunday 9 December, 2007.? This was his 60th birthday, and two days before the ship was launched by Camilla.? Mr. Leavey was writing about the launch for World Cruise Industry Review, and enjoyed a fabulous birthday lunch.
The UK’s smoking ban applies to vessels berthed in Southampton but it didn’t stop him and his fellow smokers from lighting up inside the new Churchill Cigar Lounge!