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    Blowing Away Stress One Cigar At A Time
    By Audrey Amara | August 29th 2008 01:49 AM | 14 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Audrey

    I'm a Journalism graduate from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and I recently spent two years in Bulgaria as a volunteer in the United States Peace

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    If Leopold de Rothschild, Sir Winston Churchill, or the 5th Earl of Lonsdale were alive today their supreme goal would be to eliminate stress from the world with a nice smoke.

    At the Tobacco Republic, in Loomis, California, such a place exists.

    In this sort of separate universe where the motto is "Every cigar is like a mini vacation," one of the owners, Ron, tells the story of his first experience with cigars, in his usual calm demeanor, which can be fittingly compared to the alluring effect of cigar smoke.

    "I stood there and watched them roll the cigar," Ron reflected on his monumental cigar experience in Florida where he grew up. "I was always an anti-smoker," something that he based on his perception of cigarettes.

    After being offered a cigar, "I figured why not. It was not what I expected," cogitated Ron who tells his clients that the best cigar, is the one that is being enjoyed at the moment.

    The main thing that Ron and his employees want to reveal to any individual, cigar connoisseur or amateur alike, is the calming effect that they bring. In modern terms this can be described as stress-relief medication.

    One cigar a day is what Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger smokes to relieve stress. "If you look at diseases per capita nowadays it is through the roof." Ron credits this to stress and compares it to 20 years ago. "Back then it was difficult to find a doctor to attribute disease to stress. Now it's not easy to find one who doesn't."

    Ron says that one year of interaction at the Tobacco Republic is like a PHD in psychology. Cigar people, he says, share some basic personality traits, pointedly they are social and generous whether it be with money, contacts or talents.

    In the main room of the shop there are cigars, of course, and a circle of chairs.

    On any given day when a client walks in, she can expect to find at least five men, and a woman every once-in-a-while, smoking and interacting.

    Through the fog in the "extrovert room" are a few of the 1.33 percent of people in the U.S. that Ron said smoke hand-rolled, premium cigars regularly. He also added another percentage to the list, "80 percent of cigar smokers don't know anything about cigars, but it's like that with anything."

    Almost as if he's floating on cigar smoke, Ron directs some customers into the main holding room containing hundreds of different boxes of cigars, a room that is kept moist with humidification devices which keep moisture in the air.

    Beyond the stress-relieving properties of cigars or the rumors about research proving smoking cigars being helpful in preventing Parkinson's disease, the emphasis that Tobacco Republic puts on every hand-rolled cigar can be largely found in the quality of the tobacco, how it was aged, (about three years to get rid of all the ammonia), and how it was fermented.

    The 466 chemicals in cigarettes that John Richard Violett III, the National Sales Representative for Tobacco Republic said differentiates them from cigars makes the sticks all the more "palatable to science."

    "Technically cigars are supposed to be the anti-chemical," said Richard Violett III who entered the cigar business one year ago upon Ron's urging. Since then, like most people involved in such an explicit area, Richard Violett III has lived, breathed and bled cigars.

    Richard Violett III said that the fermentation process is a relatively new progression in cigar making, but the Mayans made cigars all the way back to the tenth century and perhaps, just maybe, they did not ferment them.

    Fermentation gives the product more smoothness than steaming tobacco, which is the process used for making cigaretets. "Steaming does the job of releasing natural bi-products of tobacco, ammonia and nicotine, but fermentation adds flavor, pop, and pizzazz."

    Besides his one day off, Richard Violett III has spent the last seven months on a work-related cigar tour where he traveled "border to border and border to coast," meeting with other cigar experts, analyzing customers and making contacts.

    These relations are the very people that Ron said make or break a cigar business owner.

    "No one will ever know that it's all about relations. We attain such a good variety of cigars, over 500, because of it," he said.

    Within the non-chemical, non-machine manufactured array of sticks at the Republic is the "diamond in the rough," one of only eight boxes in the world, containing cigars made in Honduras using a bottle of Louis XII Cognac, a $15 thousand acquisition that was the result of one contact, a woman who used to work for Ron.

    Taxes will have an effect on how much is made on the rare box that will be sold to one mysterious sports figure.

    "Taxes affect the quality of what's available in America," Ron said.

    Richard Violett III said that 1995 was the last peak in cigar industry sales, but they are going up now. He reflects on the anti-stress properties of cigars which make taxes and other minute details on the business side insignificant. "It's an undiminishing vice. As you draw on your cigar, as it goes down so do the issues of the day."

    Comments

    GREAT ARTICLE!

    Hank
    Since this is in California, I am surprised there are not health mullahs and other angry villagers with torches surrounding Audrey's house right now.

    Tobacco is eeeeeeevil and anyone who says otherwise is possessed by Lucifer, so it is said.

    outsidethebox
    I raise my own tobacco and love it. It is the smoothest smoke and it's free just my time and labor. No chemicals or preservatives. I have my own line of tobacco that I have hybridized from 2X Cuban, 1X Havana and 1X American tobacco. Guess that would make it Cubanican Tobacco. LOL. Russell Ade Scientist Simple Solutions for Complex Problems
    Russell Ade Scientist Simple Solutions for Complex Problems
    There are few personal confessions more likely to alienate many Americans than to admit to smoking. Singles ads are filled with people who will never even go on a first date with someone who smokes. I strongly suspect that more women would date a millionaire who earned his money disreputably than a millionaire who smokes.

    Britten
    Fossil Huntress


    "A smoke in times of rest is a great companion to the solitary soldier." Che Guevara


    Part of the stress relieving factor of cigars is the chemical binding, but part of it is breathing. Nice slow inhale and long, slow exhale. Less sexy than the image of Che enjoying a carlota, but studies have shown you get almost as much bang for your buck by blowing bubbles and no nasty cancer down the road.
    rholley
    Heidi,

    Not everyone likes Che Guevara.  From a blog:
    It is interesting to learn that the Polish government is preparing legislation to ban the images of 'Che' Guevara, Lenin and other communist mass murderers from being displayed in public. Poland's Minister of Equality Elzbieta Radziszewska is determined to outlaw left-wing totalitarian symbols alongside 'right-wing' ones such as Hitler, the swastika, etc. The objection is not to 'left' or 'right' but to the totalitarian philosophy implied.
    Personally, these are more to my taste:



    ("Thai Maroon",  a cultivar extremely rich in antioxidants.)
    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    dorigo
    Right, "a blog". Not everybody likes mickey mouse, either. I could build a case that Mickey Mouse is a pedophile pervert just as easily as Che Guevara has been depicted as a mass murderer. Both are unsubstantiated bs. What is the point of your quote, then?

    Cheers,
    T.
    rholley
    The blog itself, and its commentators, was not the point.   I was using it as a source of the news about Poland, which I had not otherwise heard.

    The motivation, I call tell you.  Recently, on a trip to Argentina, one of the Hairy Bikers got himself a Che tattoo.  It was almost certainly as light-hearted and as hare-brained as our Prince Harry wearing a swastika to a party.  But Latin American revolutionary movements are no laughing matter.

    If you like, I will delete my comment before going to bed this evening, which will take the dependent entries with it.  But first I would like Hank to express an opinion as to whether we are stepping out of bounds.

    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    Hank
    Greetings from an airport!   All of the authors have comment moderation on their articles so I would leave it to Audrey but I don't see anything wrong with disagreeing on Che Guevara.   :)   Obviously a number of Cubans and too many south Americans to count disagreed on him also.

    I am no fan of his either but if we all agreed on everything there would be no need for more than one of us.  

    You two are obviously much more literate in these things than most.  You would laugh at San Francisco rallies where young people who lack a clue and claim to be Trotskyites,Leninites, Maoists, etc. all get along just swimmingly and sell Che Guevara t-shirts.  
    dorigo
    Sure, Hank... I know the topic of cuban revolutionaries raises hell in the US, it is a quite polarizing topic. In Italy, and in general in Europe, we have always gotten a very different portrait of the cuban revolution. Of course, where truth stands is another matter.
    And I would indeed laugh at the show you mention. Besides, the face of Ernesto is an icon now devoid of any political meaning. It is just something like Marylin portrayed by Warhol. Art, if you will, blots of ink, if you won't.

    Cheers,
    T.
    Christina Znidarsic
    I thoroughly enjoyed this article as I know next to nothing about cigars (I may have to relinquish my Mafia Don status because of that, Hank?).  I had some rugged chronic bronchitis when I was younger and smoking is simply something I've never been able to/wanted to do as a result.  Cigars might be okay though because don't you just hold the smoke in your mouth and never actually inhale it into the lungs?
    Hank
    Right, you don't inhale cigars (or at least shouldn't - I know Korean business men who do because they are, basically, insane) , it 's more like toothpaste where you just spit it out instead of swallow it.    Since breathing is an autonomic function you still might get some by accident but no one ever got lung cancer from cigars.   Mouth cancer, maybe, or at least that's the correlation/causation exaggeration people made when the smoking culture war was in full swing.

    Generally, having no interest in something smoking related is the body's way of giving you a hint so it's better not try it.   I don't drink alcohol, for example, though I can sit there and nurse a beer with people and am not a Puritan or anything, so maybe I have a mild allergy to alcohol.   I've never bothered to get tested because at my age I can't imagine how many thousands of dollars I saved not drinking alcohol, so it's been something of a bonus.
    Becky Jungbauer
    I'm crazy allergic to cigarette smoke, but cigar smoke doesn't bother me. I also had chronic bronchitis and the occasional fun bout of pneumonia growing up, so in general I just stay away from that sort of thing.
    Tobacco Republic sounds like many cigars stores/lounges across this great nation. Filled with men and occasional women who flock to get away, we come to enjoy good conversation and the great company of fellow smokers. This article was well written and puts in to words what so often goes unsaid at many locations. Either way, I appreciate the words and hope more will visit a location near them soon!