David Leyonhjelm on cigars

Many people celebrate a graduation, a major business success or becoming a father or grandfather with a special bottle of wine. Often no expense is spared, with fancy French champagne or a bottle of Grange, perhaps in a special presentation box, among the favourites.

But imagine if that special bottle came without the fancy presentation pack or the winemaker’s label. Instead, the label is a drab green colour, stating just the name of the wine. There is no further information about where it was made, its vintage, the grape variety or its alcohol content. Imagine that, with the exception of the name, the label is identical to every other bottle of wine, including those selling for a fraction of the price.

You would not be able to confirm that the wine is genuine. Apart from the assurance of the retailer, it could be a bottle of cheap plonk with a misleading label. Fortunately this is not the case with wine, at least not yet. However, it is reality with something else that is often used to celebrate a special event – cigars.

Cigars are subject to the same plain packaging and labelling laws as cigarettes. When plain packaging was legislated in 2011, the public health zealots gave no thought to cigars; it was enough that they contained tobacco and were smoked. Indeed, it’s doubtful if any of those driving the policy knew the first thing about them.

As it happens, apart from the need for a lighter and ashtray, cigarette and cigar smokers don’t have much in common. Cigarette smokers typically consume 10 to 20 smokes each day; regular cigar smokers average just 2 to 4 cigars a week. Whereas a cigarette can be smoked in a few minutes, cigars can take over two hours. Cigarette smoke is inhaled into the lungs; cigar smoke is not.

Males and females both smoke cigarettes, including young people; cigar smokers are overwhelmingly male (hence the celebration of fatherhood or grandfatherhood) and in the 40 to 60 year age bracket. Cigarette smoking is more common among those on low incomes; cigar smokers are typically high income earners.

Just like wine drinkers, cigar smokers know the difference between a good and bad cigar. Their discrimination between products can also descend into wankery. But unlike wine drinkers, while they typically have their favourites, when looking for a special celebration cigar they step into the unknown.

A consumer wanting the cigar-equivalent of French champagne or Grange is stuck with a plain label, despite prices that can range over $100 each. Retailers might offer some verbal advice as to what kind of cigar would be suitable, but anything beyond that is prohibited. The objective of the plain packaging policy is to make smoking less attractive, particularly to young people. It relies on the assumption that smokers are attracted to smoking by colourful packaging.

The evidence suggests plain packaging has made no difference to an already declining rate of cigarette smoking. But the idea that it has influenced middle-aged cigar smokers is ridiculous. All it has done is make it harder for those celebrating a special event to choose a special cigar.

No doubt control freaks will argue in favour of plain packaging of cigars on the grounds that they don’t like their smell, they don’t like smoking generally, or because they know and dislike someone who smokes cigars. But none of that justifies imposing the coercive power of the state. A free society should only impose restrictions on voluntary action if it is to prevent harm to others.

No matter what you think of cigars, subjecting them to plain packaging is a stupid policy and should be abandoned. All it does is invite plain packaging of whatever else we consume when we celebrate.

David Leyonhjelm is a Senator for the Liberal Democrats.

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25 Responses to David Leyonhjelm on cigars

  1. Tel

    Cigarette smoke is inhaled into the lungs; cigar smoke is not.

    Bugger that! I have a cigar rarely enough, and they are bloody expensive, I’m gonna get the full experience.

  2. Bruce of Newcastle

    How can they betray the Revolution in this terrible manner? Fidel was often pictured with a Cuban cigar in his mouth. Che also!

    Socialism has forgotten its warrior roots. At very least they should allow Cuban cigars in red coloured packs adorned with a discrete hammer-and-sickle.

  3. Clam Chowdah

    You now have my vote.

  4. Tim Neilson

    Sound comment by DL, which will fall on totally deaf ears.

    There’s a similar argument to be made about excise on pipe tobacco. Pipe smokers don’t inhale, so it’s less harmful than cigarettes.

    Indeed whenever I’ve asked for evidence of the alleged dangers of pipe smoking I’ve only ever been given info about cigarettes. Not saying pipe smoking isn’t harmful, but it obviously isn’t harmful enough to sustain any fact based scaremongering.

    That’s why in the past, sporting coaches who couldn’t stop their charges from smoking converted them to a pipe – including Lionel Rose (world champion), Peter Norman (Olympic silver medallist) and Tony Pollinelli (“VFL”, i.e. AFL, premiership player). That is, switching people from cigarettes to a pipe is harm mitigation.

    So why do the health totalitarians tax it as heavily as cigarettes? Answer – because they can, and if they didn’t people would be getting away with enjoying themselves.

  5. My friend is 75 years old Dutchman. He smokes two packets a day. For last 70 years. Doctors told him he could live 10 years longer if he quits, but could not guarantee it! If he quits for 2 hours he gets bad withdrawal symptoms e.g. bad handshakes. If he drives while “quit” he may cause a bad car accident and kill himself in 2 and1/2 hours after “quit”.
    Could some statistician please calculate which is the greater risk?
    I am only guessing, smoking?

  6. mh

    How can they betray the Revolution in this terrible manner? Fidel was often pictured with a Cuban cigar in his mouth. Che also!

    Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky also used to enjoy a cigar together.

  7. Clam Chowdah

    Tel, you’re an ass.

  8. Infidel Tiger 2.0 (Premium Content Subscribers Only)

    Taking the joy out of things is the goal, not public health.

  9. john constantine

    The State enforces Compliance in every area of life like Gunnery Seargant Hartman.


    This is to produce docile proles, that will obey the orders to run,hide and ring the State on their mobiles, docile proles that will file in front of officers of the state with their hands on their heads without first being ordered.

    Every requirement to be compliant is all part of the revolution away from free-living frontiersman culture towards comfortable globalised serfdom.

  10. Pete of Perth

    Lots of cigar smoking and whiskey drinking in the latest Churchill movie. The do gooders must be apolectic with rage.

  11. struth

    Now you tell me.

    I think I’ve had about four or five cigars in my life.

    I drew the smoke in, not all of it, but some went way down into my lungs.

    I can’t believe I’m still alive to talk about it.
    That was years ago.

  12. struth

    By the way, D.L.
    Good performance on [email protected]
    I don’t watch the dribble, and right wing people should refuse to even humour it, but the later video of it I watched regarding “how old are you” comments.

    Keep doing that sort of shit and you will get banned.
    You supposed to be meek and easily bulldozed.
    Good to see that you have started on the uppers, whatever they are.

  13. Looking forward to reading “David Leyonhjelm on weed”. Maybe he’ll loosen up a bit.

  14. Kneel

    “But imagine if that special bottle came without the fancy presentation pack or the winemaker’s label.”

    Already mooted.
    Of course, there is no measurement system in place to make sure it works…
    And consider the issue with “alco-pops” (ie pre-mixed drinks)
    Young ladies were encouraged to drink these and to get them unopened from any male admirers – that way, they could know it wasn’t adulterated in any way. They did just that. Then came the cries of “all these young people drinking pre-mixed drinks! Terrible! They are cheap – must be why. Let’s tax them more” and so they did (and do). To the point that now many young ladies prefer a mixed drink made by the bar attendant (PC – he he) because that’s now cheaper – or at least, no more expensive and if the attendant is a male, they may even get a “free upgrade” to a double with the odd eye-lash batting.
    So get over it – it’s for your own good you know.
    After the alcohol labeling is settled, it’ll move to “fast food” – high fat and/or high sugar food and drink.
    You can laugh now, but they’ll try it, I have NO doubt.

  15. Infidel Tiger 2.0 (Premium Content Subscribers Only)

    Looking forward to reading “David Leyonhjelm on weed”. Maybe he’ll loosen up a bit.

    And just mellowly accept the fascist bureaucratic state tthat you and your soft-bellied brethren have created?

  16. Tim Neilson

    Lots of cigar smoking and whiskey drinking in the latest Churchill movie. The do gooders must be apolectic with rage.

    I’ve read a review which suggests that it’s a psychotically deranged fantasist hatchet job, so the “progressives” will probably forgive the flagrant displays of unapproved enjoyment.

  17. iain russell

    Light ’em and shove ’em, cigaristas. As far as you can. Despicable filth – the cigars that is.

  18. Clam Chowdah

    You don’t inhale into the lungs. You’ll end up spewing your guts up.

  19. Diogenes

    And thats why I voted David #1 last time.
    I smoke a “short” a day , tastes like old rope lit, but I can’t afford my preferred. The boss just sent me a text of the cigars he smuggled in for me from Cuba – I gave him $50, said I wanted a corona size – I will soon have 10

  20. RobK

    Well said DL, (Despite the probable futility) it needs to be said, often.

  21. Tim Neilson

    #2405929, posted on June 8, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    Tobacco smuggling – Australia’s most effective anti-poverty initiative.

    Allez les fumeurs sans frontieres.

  22. Muddy

    Plain packaging for the ABC. You can still hear the voice, but there are no visuals, just a blank screen.

    [Much to my surprise, I found this an interesting read. I’ve stated on here previously, and quite forthrightly, that I’m not a fan of cigarettes [cigarette smoke blown in my face by rude mofos, I mean], though I do acknowledge that it is legal to smoke, and as such, people who choose to do so, should be free to do so. I’ll also admit to being something of a confused hypocrite, given that while I’m not pro plain packaging, I’m not anti either].

  23. Shy Ted

    They should plain package left wing women. What’s that? Apparently they already did.

  24. .

    That’s right Clam. Do two in a row like that and oh boy you’re in a world of hurt.

    Also: don’t smoke cigars if you go up in elevation quickly and haven’t acclimatised.

  25. DrBeauGan

    DL’s best yet. The answer is to buy a box at a time fromMy-Cuban-Cigars.Com. I recommend the Cuaba salomones, box of ten.

    Nice boxes, no rude pictures of people’s lungs, and no olive bands.

    Tel, you don’t inhale, you just take a sniff at the burning end periodically.

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