“The cigars they’re taking are White Owls, Phillies, Swisher, etcetera, so they can make marijuana blunts for smoking and selling,” he said, “And that’s pretty much it in almost every case.”
The machine-made stuff; it made perfect sense, too. Your common, everyday street hoods probably don’t have much of an appreciation for premium handmade cigars. Can you imagine unfurling a Padron 1964 or a Fuente OpusX just so you could roll it back up with weed? Well, maybe that’s what wealthy criminals do.
After asking the same question to a few other local police officers, they concurred with my Trooper friend. Suffice it to say, I didn’t have much of a story, but then something else happened…
Wednesday, November 2, 2011, 9:41 PM – An email arrives to a Customer Service Manager, Cory Reinhard, from NYC Police Officer Frank Amezquita.
Subject: The Smoking Gun Club
…We are a crew of 30 officers who, weekly, thanks to the blessing of our wives, created a club so that we can get together on our days off or when our schedules permit. Some of us work 12-16 hour a day shifts, so this is our little outlet. Some of the guys had never smoked a cigar, so I was their teacher.
Anyway, THANKS for being a wonderful company which we love and respect so. You are the best. God bless, and once again thanks.
So Cory had the art department send Officer Amezquita a bunch of logos, including the Cigar Monster logo.
Monday, November 28, 2:43 PM – The next correspondence from The Smoking Gun Cigar Club arrives. Cory passes it on to me, and I ask him, “What is it with cops, firemen and this fascination with cigars? We agreed this might be a better topic for an article, so I took the wheel and wrote back to Frank about it.
Well Gary, that’s a very good topic that the crew and I are going to discuss. What I can tell you now is, for us officers smoking a cigar means that you have matured, that you are a man with class, and it gives you character. Most men smoke a cigar after a long hard day at work, and some drink while smoking. I used to drink with my favorite cigars, but I haven’t touched the stuff for four years. . .Smoking a cigar for me is the most rewarding feeling.
A lot of the guys used to just come down to relax, but had never smoked a cigar, so I schooled them in everything from the farms in Cuba to the families who make them around the world. That way, when somebody asks us what we’re smoking, we can at least have a nice conversation and educate others about cigars.
In NYC it’s against the law to smoke anywhere outside; not in the parks or the beach. There are only a handful of cigar lounges, so the problem is, officers like me sometimes have to give smokers a fine in the NYC parks, which really sucks.
Tuesday, November 29th, 2:37 PM – Frank has spoken to the club members. Here’s the 411.
I was talking to the guys, and they came up with a lot of funny and strange reasons why we smoke cigars. However, a lot of us agreed that smoking cigars takes us back to the old cowboy days of the Wild West, and men like Wyatt Earp and John Wayne. Some of us have ridden police horses, which makes it that much more identifiable. I hope that helps.
* * *
So what about Firemen?
Why are they also so drawn to cigars? That same day, I went in to tell Cory about Frank’s email. Cory said his brother-in-law Sean is a Lieutenant for a local Lehigh Valley County squad. He’s been a fireman for 11 years, including the FDNY, and loves cigars, as do many of his brother firemen.
So Cory called Sean to get his take. Aside from some jokes referring to how firemen like to see things burn, Sean cited an interesting commonality among the firemen: they prefer stronger cigars, himself included, and his shape of choice is the Churchill.
Several years ago at the IPCPR convention in New Orleans, my colleagues and I were on our way to a cocktail party in one of the hotels. Also taking place at the hotel was a Fireman’s convention. Some of them were hanging out in the hallway. We stopped to talk to them and gave them some cigars along with our business cards. Shortly after the convention, one of them contacted me by email and I asked him about the firemen and cigars connection.
“Well Gary, I’m not sure what the deal is with fire fighters. My wife says it’s because we are pyros and we like fire. But really I don’t know. My Assistant Chief has been smoking cigars for years, so maybe he knows. Before the convention I wasn’t a big cigar man. The only thing I’ve ever smoked were cheap cigars from the gas station; Swisher Sweets, that kind of stuff. But the night we met, I tried a real cigar and fell in love. I’ve been smoking ever since.”
– J. Dauzat in Marksville, LA
From what I’ve surmised, the inclination to smoke cigars may have its roots in something Officer Frank said; that “you are a man with class, and it gives you character.” Going back to America’s earlier days, policemen and firemen have always represented the middle class. Only wealthy, powerful men like bankers, land owners, and politicians smoked cigars at one time, so perhaps getting to smoke a good Cuban made police officers and firemen feel rich. That said, smoking cigars is a way of bonding, and the bonds between first responders don’t get much tighter.