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Tobacco is not porn



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February 12, 2014 - Only in today's world could a store that sells tobacco be equated with a business that deals in pornography.

Case in point, the Oxford Village planner has suggested adding businesses that deal in tobacco to the "adult uses" category of the municipality's zoning ordinance because there are some concerns about having "family unfriendly uses" in the downtown area.

The village currently defines adult uses as "adult bookstores, adult motion picture theatres, adult mini-motion picture theatres, adult drive-in theatres, adult massage parlors, adult modelling studios, and eating and drinking places with sexually-oriented entertainment."

Not only is it mind-bogglingly stupid to lump tobacco shops in with purveyors of pornography, but I find it personally offensive.

I have smoked and enjoyed fine, hand-rolled cigars and high quality briar and meerschaum pipes in moderation for 20 years.

Now, government is considering putting me in the same class as a bunch of dirty old men in trenchcoats.

How absurd to tell me that my hobby – one of the ways I choose to relax and unwind – puts me on the same level as some odious pervert.

That's insulting and that's exactly the message the village will be sending if it chooses to equate tobacco stores with porn-based businesses.

And let me be clear about what I mean by a tobacco store. I mean a place that sells cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco and the assorted accessories used to enjoy and store these legal products.

I'm not talking about head shops – stores that sell drug-related paraphernalia. I'm not talking about head shops that masquerade as tobacco shops.

True tobacco shops are not head shops nor should they be put in the same category as porn businesses.

I know all about tobacco shops because I spent my college years working at two – Maison Edwards in Ann Arbor and Churchill's in St. Clair Shores.

Oxford would be lucky if tobacco shops of this caliber decided to open their doors in the downtown area.

People who frequent tobacco shops are typically the same people who enjoy fine dining and high quality wines and spirits. They're people of taste who like to spend their hard-earned dollars on the things in life that give them pleasure. Pick up a copy of Cigar Aficionado some time.

The Oxford Wine & Beverage Co. has a walk-in humidor filled with cigars. Is there anything about it that even remotely resembles an adult bookstore? I think not.

And by the way, it is the height of hypocrisy for the village to even consider deeming tobacco a family-unfriendly adult use when the downtown area currently has six establishments – soon to be seven – with full bars.

To deem places that serve alcohol as family-friendly and places that sell tobacco as somehow immoral and shameful is illogical.

To say that a downtown with seven bars in four blocks is family friendly, but a downtown with one, two or even three tobacco shops is the Devil's playground is absolutely ridiculous.

I sincerely hope the village planning commission will be wise enough to agree and keep tobacco shops off the list of adult uses. May common sense prevail.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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