The following e-mail might have been well-intended, but not only the subject line has too much of a condescending and dismissive tone to it.
Subject: Brainwashed by photographs of writers and other intellectuals From: Andy Kopra (firstname.lastname@example.org) To: Andreas Moser (email@example.com) Sent: 28 September 2011, 2243 hrs
“Just follow the cigar smoke.” [from your blog]
Smoking killed my father. Smoking isn’t impressive or sophisticated, it’s an addiction that causes health problems. And when you die early, it will hurt everyone who cares about you.
Perhaps it’s none of my business, but after all, a blog assumes that you do want everybody to care about your business.Sincerely, Andy Kopra
I agree that smoking is not healthy, that it can contribute to your premature death or cause horribly painful illnesses. But I knew all of that when I picked up the habit.
Trying to be impressive or sophisticated is not the reason behind my affinity for cigars. In fact, I mostly smoke when I am alone in a forest, on top of a mountain or at a beautiful beach, where nobody can find me.
I enjoy cigars. I enjoy the taste, I enjoy looking after the clouds of smoke that I puff out and that still hang in the air for a few seconds until they are dispersed by the wind.
Cigars have something special that cigarettes don’t have, which is why I don’t even touch cigarettes. For a cigar, you need time and preferably idyllic quietness. Smoking a cigar may take anything between 30 and 90 minutes, so when I light up I know that I don’t want to be disturbed for the next hour or so. I turn off my phone, seek out a peaceful spot next to the lake, take a book with me and forget about all my sorrows for a while.
As Thomas Mann wrote in “The Magic Mountain”:
I never can understand how anyone can not smoke—it deprives a man of the best part of life … with a good cigar in his mouth a man is perfectly safe, nothing can touch him—literally.
It might not have been a coincidence that I had always been against smoking, especially in public, but then picked up my first cigar exactly in 2008, when Bavaria (where I lived back then) outlawed smoking in restaurants. Although I support the state’s right to ban smoking wherever there are non-smokers present and I think there are even valid arguments for banning smoking outright in countries with a universal healthcare system where non-smokers could be asked to pay the lung-cancer treatment of a chain smoker, the rebel inside me doesn’t like laws, rules and paternalism.