" If I cannot smoke in heaven, then I shall not go." Mark Twain

The art of cigar smoking should not be taken lightly, for there is much more to cigar culture then lighting up a "stogie." Unlike cigarettes which have lost its popularity due to health issues, aggressive marketing by tobacco companies and strict governments regulations, cigars are as popular today as most any time in recent history. There is an allure to cigars that exists on many levels. Smoking cigars can be considered a higher class experience, with a somewhat sexy vibe that takes place all across the country in cigar shops and cigar bars, including right here by the emerald green waters and sandy white beaches of the Gulf Coast.

It has always been said that one meets the nicest people while smoking a cigar. You see, cigars are all about being social. It is not uncommon to walk in a cigar shop, be greeted by the owner who will assist you in picking out that perfect smoke, and then take a seat next to a judge, a plumber, a retired veteran, a cross section of American society, all of whom have a unique story waiting to be shared. All of whom have at least one thing in common, the love of cigars!

Whether you are lucky enough to call the Emerald Coast your home or smart enough to visit one of the America's best vacation spots, you are not far from the friend confines of a local cigar shop. In Destin, look no further than Harbor Cigars, across from Destin Commons. A Destin landmark for over 18 years, you will find a friendly and knowledgeable staff and a first rate selection of the finest hand-rolled cigars.

If you find yourself in Fairhope, on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay, walk passed the eclectic array of retail shops and eateries, and just down Section Street will be Bouch's. Oh what a wonderful, inviting place Gene Bouchillin and his business partner Jack Milstead have created. Along with an excellent cigar selection, on any given day you will be delighted by the friendly banter coming from the section of over stuffed leather chairs.

Simply light up, have a seat and for the next hour talk with people who you may feel you have known for a lifetime. There are many great cigar spots along the gulf coast such as R Cigar Bar in The Wharf in Orange Beach, Cordova Cigars and Gulf Coast Brewery, both in Pensacola, which will offer a wide selection of hand-rolled cigars from countries such as Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua. A well run shop will have a knowledge staff that is there to help clarify the sometime overwhelming array of labels to choose from, whether you are a novice or a true cigar aficionado.

Cigars should remain popular, a true pop culture icon, especially if soon we may find our local cigar haunts stocking real Cuban brands. So do yourself a favor and find a local gulf coast cigar shop and light up, sit down, you may be surprised who is sitting next to you.

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