It’s a sunny day in L.A., and though it’s warm, homicide detective Lt. Columbo wears his rumpled canvas trench coat anyway. Rifling through his pockets with a crook in his neck and a smirk on his face, he skulks around the backyard of a high-society Hollywood villa where he’s just cracked a case on the murder of a local navy officer. He approaches his commanding officer, whose well-kempt hair and three-piece suit clash with Columbo’s disheveled, blue-collar look. After a pause, Columbo raises his head and asks the sergeant for a light, pulling out a brown, torpedo-shaped cigar.
The sergeant hands him a match. “I thought you were gonna quit?” he asks.
“N-no…no…. Not yet.” Lt. Columbo smokes his cigar, still smirking.
Since the 1970s, the television series Columbo helped to catapult the popularity of the cigar. Its title character, Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk), was television dynamite. Unabashedly working-class, shrewd, and free-spirited, he was a man’s man, a modern-day maverick. And nothing encapsulated that spirit more than his unabating passion for cigars.
His influence can be seen in a diverse range of cigar aficionados who sport a similar disposition, from fictional characters like the cool and collected Fat Tony of The Simpsons to Tom Selleck, the actor behind the brazen mustachioed title character of Magnum P.I. (who, like the actor, also enjoys a good cigar). Though not without their differences, modern-day cigar enthusiasts all have one trait in common: a taste for high style, for fine food and drink, and for a clever wit.
Certainly, the cigar aficionado has always been considered suave and sophisticated, which has always made cigars a popular and timeless gift.
But Columbo’s sly demeanor added something new, refining our image of the cigar-smoking sophisticate as someone with not only good taste and style, but also a discerning mind. Nowadays, we expect cigar aficionados to be as cultured as they are level-headed, as stylish as they are sharp-witted: the kind of person who keeps cool, stays patient, and thinks systematically to suss things out.
And perhaps that quality is what’s made cigars so popular today and why so many famous figures as far-flung as Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Rihanna, and Jack Nicholson enjoy a good stogie. In a time of ever more rapid change, smoking a cigar forces one to stop, breathe, think. Savor the moment. Perhaps that’s also why cigars make the ultimate big-celebration gift; from weddings to graduations to promotions, toasting with a cigar helps us soak in our surroundings and cherish life’s many pleasures. For many cigar hobbyists, it’s a chance to enjoy life at a slower pace that harkens back to a simpler time. And for many more like us at the Revolucion cigar shop in Vancouver, it’s a passion that will keep on burning.