With the holidays approaching and temperatures dropping, Arlene Veblen stocks shorter Robusto cigars in the fragrant humidor room at Eads Smoke Shop, shifting the inventory to accommodate the winter smoker.
“People can go out on their patios and can smoke these in about 35 minutes,” she says.
The stubby cigars, which run between $3 and $15, are popular holiday sellers and make appropriate gifts for those smoking friends of yours. Simply wrapping a pack of cigarettes with ribbon and a bow, on the other hand, does not.
The best presents have that practical quality but go beyond necessity, and the folks at Eads have a variety of gifts that fit the bill. Regal lighters, which come nestled in black jewelry boxes lined with white fabric, could help spark some holiday cheer, as would any one of a wide selection of Zippos, cigar humidors or cigarette cases. Don’t forget to check out the glass case of inexpensive pocket ashtrays, mini corncob pipes, smokeable keychains and other pint-sized accessories, any of which would make great stocking stuffers.
For the gadget lover and discreet smoker, there are also now e-cigarettes — smokeless, battery-powered vaporizers, shaped like traditional cigarettes, that use a vaporized solution to deliver that nicotine fix. But Veblen warns that these gizmos are somewhat of a white elephant due to the high cost of refilling cartridges, flaws in some of their construction, and the difficulty of finding parts to fit each particular brand.
“It’s just not worth the effort,” says Veblen, who stopped stocking e-cigarettes after running into difficulties
and receiving complaints.
Sometimes sticking with tradition can offer a classier touch.
Johnny’s Cigar Bar, located on 13th Street in downtown Boulder, thrives in the antiquated custom of taking after-hour cigar breaks on soft leather chairs, drinking martinis while listening to the occasional live band. The smoking room — one of the few remaining indoor smoking areas in Boulder — offers a warm, unique place to relax with friends. Owner John Welsh suggests gift certificates to experience the bar’s ambience, although he also offers an array of cigars ranging in price from $3 to $25, which he says sell well during the holidays.
“People don’t know what else to give, and they know that cigars are something someone would enjoy,” Welsh explains. “They’re classic.”
Less traditional but gaining popularity — particularly among college students — are hookahs, which can range in price from $30 to more than $100. Several head shops on University Hill and around Boulder sell the large Eastern water pipes that are ultimately designed to be shared with others.
“It’s definitely a social thing,” says Nick Stainkamp, who works at The Fitter on The Hill. “You see hookahs everywhere, especially in a college town. Hookah is a big market.”
Though tobacco has its well-known dangers, avoid the preachy presents. Don’t gift-wrap Nicorette and teeth-whitening strips, or self-help books outlining how to quit smoking. Sure, you can argue that “a clean bill of health” is the best gift of all, but that undermines the indulgent and festive spirit of the season. Save those habit-breaking nudges for New Year’s.