Why Cigarettes ‘Go With a Drink’
Except they don’t. But this is what smokers often say.
Let me put it slightly differently: why cigarettes go with a drink—or with anything else you happen to be doing (or not doing)—every forty minutes of every day if you’re a twenty-a-day smoker, or pro rata if you smoke more or fewer than twenty cigs daily.
Gentle reader, please contemplate this picture:
We can do some sleuthing and say there were three people recently at this table who drank red wine. Since there are ten cigarette butts in the ashtray I would say they were all smokers so probably two smoked three cigarettes and one smoked four. I should add this photo was taken in Tokyo where smoking, unfortunately, is still permitted in many eating and drinking establishments.
Do you think these people, whoever they were, enjoyed smoking cigarettes with their wine? Doubtless they thought they did, but the reality is that, like all smokers in this situation, they weren’t really enjoying their drinks. What were they doing then? They were trying to keep at bay the constant anxiety and discomfort from which they were suffering—caused by the smoking itself—by sucking as much nicotine-laden tobacco fumes into their lungs as they could while they were drinking wine with their companions. They were in the same situation as the diners described in my post of 24 May 2016: ‘Why do smokers smoke?’
How would normal people, that is, non-smokers, manage in this situation? It’s obvious, if you take a moment’s thought, that non-smokers can enjoy a drink and conversation with friends (provided they are in a non-smoking environment where they would much prefer to be) and it would normally never occur to them to inhale poison at the same time.
Smokers are thus in an unfortunate position, and it’s not just when having a drink with friends. They can’t really enjoy anything in life as much as non-smokers, other things being equal.
This, you will recall, is because smokers suffer constantly from the discomfort of the withdrawal symptoms of nicotine poisoning—mild anxiety and nervousness. There is no physical pain and these are merely psychological symptoms. It’s true that smokers feel better immediately after smoking a cigarette, but about forty minutes or an hour later they want another one. Thus, each cigarettes creates the need for the next one and the cycle will repeat indefinitely—unless the smoker realizes what is going on and breaks the cycle. Contrary to what most people will tell you, this is very easy to do if you go about it in the right way and have the right kind of support.
Another reason it seems difficult to stop smoking is because of the common misperception that smoking is enjoyable or relaxing, or in the case of cigars, is associated with success or luxurious living.
I took this photo in a shop in Tokyo selling glassware. As well all sorts of glasses for wine and spirits they also sell ashtrays, an example of which is shown, featured with a box of cigars and a bottle of 17 year old Nikka Taketsuru blended malt whisky.
It’s unfortunate there isn’t a little more awareness that smoking cigars is a very bad idea. It does nothing to enhance the taste of any drink and I think it’s insulting to this fine whisky to display it in this way. Anyone capable of appreciating wine or whisky wouldn’t want to spoil their palate with tobacco smoke.
Let’s look at cigar smoking a little further. Not only does it spoil your palate but it’s risky to health. On the Davidoff website the following text appears, in a box:
SURGEON GENERAL WARNING: Cigar Smoking Can Cause Cancers Of The Mouth And Throat, Even If You Do Not Inhale.
Not only that, but the pointlessness of cigar smoking is brought out in the Davidoff website in an interview with a chef called Renato Wüst. Apparently he was awarded the title of ‘CigarMan of the Year 2016’. This is what he says in answer to the question ‘What does enjoying a cigar mean to you?’
Whether it is mild or robust, it doesn’t matter what kind of a flavour a cigar has. For me, enjoyment is like a playground where I can experiment and have the freedom to move and be independent. A cigar also nurtures that feeling of togetherness which is so important to me— a heart-felt discussion with others, getting input from friends and simple enjoyment without any worries at the same time. If I have the chance to go to my favourite bar in the evening and light up a cigar, then I am giving myself both time and inspiration.
There we have it: an honest, if vacuous, reply. For a start, he doesn’t care about the strength or flavour of the cigar. What a pity. But I wonder how, if he wasn’t a cigar smoker, he would have the freedom to move around and be independent, or would be able to nurture that feeling of togetherness or be able to give himself time and inspiration? Are we non-cigar smokers missing something?
Text and photos © Gabriel Symonds