My dear fellow smokers, I thought all was lost. First came SCHIP legislation and subsequently higher taxes on tobacco products. Next came the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which instituted an utter ban on most flavored cigarettes. Just this week, the New York City Council approved a ban that included flavored cigars as well in a 46–1 vote.

(How can one smoke one’s blunts? Grape Dutchy anyone?)

Even our fellow smoker Barack Obama turned his back on us. It appeared as though we were standing abandoned at Thermopylae, left alone to fight off the Xerxes of anti-tobacco legislation.

Smokers, our Leonidas has arrived. Our savior does not take the form of a portly CEO or grubby-handed politician. He instead takes the form of an aging pop icon. Joe Jackson, author of such American standards as “Is She Really Going Out With Him” and “Steppin’ Out,” has spent the last five years researching the inner workings of and campaigning against the anti-smoking movement.

The voice of a generation — or rather the Quaalude-popping, white, gay, male segment of a generation — outlines his views in several essays and op-eds. He created waves with his May 2003 New York Times column, in which he threatened to move away from the draconian New York City for the more tolerant Berlin. In his most recent “Smoke, Lies and the Nanny State,” Jackson claims, “The anti-smoking movement […] has far too much money and influence, and […] their dishonesty and bullying tactics should be worrying even to those who hate tobacco.” He then goes on to suggest that these bullying tactics have led to “valedutinarian fascism.”

For those who don’t know what valetudinarian means, and even for those DSers who swear they do, allow me to translate: “THIS IS SPARTA!” So on behalf of all of us, Joe, go out and fight the good fight. We’ll look for your next stinging anti-anti-smoking-movement essay in the Sunday Papers.

Review: Ashton VSG Wizard

Strength: Medium-Full

Shape: Toro

Cost: ~$18

I was excited to try the VSG Wizard. I had just finished an enormous meal, had a cup of coffee in front of me and was ready to sink my taste buds into this fat, strong, beefy cigar. The first thing I noticed was an imperfect wrapper, but I chocked this up to improper handling by my tobacconist. The draw was pretty tight, but I ascribed this to an overly moist humidor. By the second third, as I waited anxiously for boatloads of flavor to drown me in smoky delight, I tasted hints of sandalwood. Not bad, but not up to hype. As Joe Jackson would say, “Oh Well.”

Grade: A Big Fat “B”