First, I want to be very clear: I am not a doctor, epidemiologist, or expert whose advice or views should be followed. Ever. I can only speak for myself, and what is right for my family. Second, it is imperative that you follow all local and state mandates regarding social distancing and masks. Period. End of story. Third, if you are feeling the slightest bit under-the-weather then stay at home; conversely, if you are immuno-compromised you should also stay at home. We are all in this together, and the last thing that any of us want to do is to put ourselves or others needlessly at risk.
Lastly, your local cigar lounge needs you now more than ever. That is the simple reality that is 2020. I urge every cigar and pipe enthusiast to support your local lounge, even if you choose not smoke there. Those of us who are immune-compromised or prefer limiting our potential exposure to the SARS-COV-2 virus should still find ways to support our local tobacconists. Many offer gift cards, curbside pick-up, or delivery. Please, check with your local lounge to find out how you can best support them during these unprecedented times.
As we move into colder and drier months across much of the United States, COVID-19 has begun surging again and is threatening to shutter businesses and drive us back into lockdown. While the good news is a vaccine, or two, are seemingly on the way, that does little to help the financial burden small businesses face with another lockdown.
Cigar Lounges and the Pandemic
I have said countless times that it is imperative that we support our local cigar lounges. Cigar lounges are the life blood of the cigar industry. They allow manufacturers and blenders the opportunity to interact with local communities of cigar smokers. Cigar lounges serve as the gatekeepers of the hobby, allowing new cigar enthusiasts an easy avenue to knowledge of the hobby.
But why are cigar lounges useful during the pandemic? Cigar lounges are unique in that they are built to expel the smoke-filled air and bring in fresh air. Again, I am no expert but this seems like it would do more to curtail exposure to the SARS-COV-2 virus rather than increase exposure. While the air is constantly circulating, it is meant to be taken up and away from smokers. However, should proper social distancing guidelines not be followed, no amount air scrubbers or fresh air will keep you from increasing your chances of contracting the virus. It is, after-all, a matter of exposure rate.
A lot of cigar lounges also offer outside seating. For cigar lounges located in more temperate climates, this is a godsend. Outdoor seating, coupled with proper social distancing, greatly reduces the odds of you contracting and spreading COVID-19. Regardless if you are smoking inside or outside, you should always adhere to social distancing guidelines to lower your chance of catching COVID-19.
What is not immediately apparent is how visiting a cigar lounge during the pandemic affects one’s morale. As stated above, a local cigar lounge is many things to many people, and it serves several purposes within its community and within its local cigar community. However, it can also provide a respite from our lockdowns by allowing much needed in-person social interactions, even from a distance.
For the majority of 2020, we have all been asked to limit our in-person interactions with others. We do this for their safety, the safety of ourselves and of our families. Many of us have been ordered to work from home for the foreseeable future, and many of us may never return to an office. Our world has changed and no matter how connected we are by technology, nothing can take the place of actually being social. Cigar lounges give cigar and pipe enthusiasts an opportunity to have that in-person interaction and reprieve from our isolation.
I am not saying that cigar lounges are any safer than going to a restaurant or bar; nor am I advocating for everyone to rush out and visit their local lounge. Do what you think is best for you and your families. What I am saying is that cigar lounges are built for social distancing, providing an environment with fresh air, and offer the opportunity to escape isolation even if just for a couple of hours.