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There are signs everywhere that cigars are becoming popular again. For

example, you can't pass a magazine stand without seeing two or three new

magazines glorifying the subject, and restaurants all over the country are

devoting entire nights to "smoke dinners." So why is the cigarette still

considered offensive and is generally scorned by all? This seems strange since

cigars and cigarettes have so many things in common: both are made of tobacco,

both are rolled into tube-like shapes, and both are smoked. However, it must

be the differences that make the cigar so much more popular. Cigars are made

from better quality tobaccos, cigars are hand rolled, and cigars have a more

pleasing aroma.

Both cigars and cigarettes are constructed of tobacco, but the care used

in raising fine cigar tobacco is second to none. Only the finest leaves of the

plant are selected. The drying and fermenting process is long (nine months for

filler leaves and up to two years for wrapper leaves) and closely watched.

Cigarette tobacco is grown for quantity; not necessarily for quality. No

regard is given to the aroma and smoke of the different types of tobacco. The

only type of tobacco grown is fast-maturing strains they can get to the market

quickly. Careful and attentive raising is non existent. The leaves are

quickly dried and thrown into boxes for shipment to the rolling factory.

Fine cigars are hand rolled, whereas all cigarettes are machine rolled.

Including the type and quality of the leaf, rolling is the ultimate judge of

whether a cigar is good or bad. Cigar companies go to great pains to be sure

they hire only the best "Torcedores" (cigar rollers). If a cigar is

underfilled it will burn hot and harsh; if it is overfilled it is "Plugged" and

will not draw. To be sure that the cigars are of the best quality, one out of

ten is inspected (that's two out of each box). On the other hand, cigarette

tobacco is first jammed into cutting machines where the leaves are shredded.

Second, they go into the rolling machines where the shreds are perfectly

measured out, rolled, and wrapped in paper. The only humans who come in

contact with the tobacco, at this point, are the monitors who sweep up the

debris and add it back to the hopper. Since machines are doing the work, there

is very little quality control. Only one out of a thousand is checked (that's

one cigarette out of fifty packs).

Cigar smoke is savored and appreciated, while cigarette smoke is

considered nasty and smelly. Cigar smoke is very heavy and robust (it's also

impossible to get out of fabrics), however, people who smoke them immensely

enjoy the thick and rich aroma. Even non-smokers who smell one on the street

will look to see from where it's coming from and often give you a smile and a

nod. It seems, however, that if you light up a cigarette you receive dirty

looks from the whole room (or everyone around you while you're outside), and

most likely even be asked to put it extinguish it.

In conclusion, the fine care taken in growing cigar tobacco, as well as

the hand rolling, and the distinctly different aroma has somehow been re-

discovered by this anti-tobacco generation. Sales are up five-hundred percent

in the last seven years, while cigarettes are still loathed by all, even by

many of the people who smoke them. Maybe, if the cigarette companies would

improve the quality of their product, they too could enjoy the renewed

interest in tobacco.

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