By Jayce Tack
Tobacco holds different meanings for everyone, but for Noah Blanco, it’s his life’s work.
Blanco, a recent graduate from Ole Miss’ music department, decided that he wanted to do something else for work. “I have always had a passion for music, but I quickly realized that there wasn’t much I could do for work with that degree, and I wanted to keep it a hobby,” Blanco said.
Born in San Antonio and raised in Jackson, Blanco and his twin brother, Paul, both loved Oxford and had no desire to leave.
“This town has such a draw, and I just didn’t want to go,” he said. “I just knew I had to find a job.”
He didn’t have a plan for one, but he happened to walk into Spring Street Cigars after a friend from the music department invited him to smoke. “I quickly loved the place and asked my friend if they were looking for more help,” Blanco said.
He was hired and began learning the ins and outs of the industry.
“It definitely started as a way to make money,” he said. “But I discovered how interesting cigars are.”
Blanco was no stranger to cigars though. He and his brother, Paul, got into the product rather young.
“Our first time trying premium tobacco we were 17 years old, our friends were slightly older, and at the point in time the legal age to smoke was 18,” Paul said. “We all went in and bought one single cigar, and we were hooked to the sophistication of such a silly interaction.”
Now, both work at Spring Street Cigars and have a passion for educating people on the difference in premium tobacco products compared to over-the-counter tobacco such as cigarettes.
“There are so many additives in products like snuff or cigarettes,” Blanco said. “Our products are purely tobacco, hand-rolled and made to quality; it just makes it better all around.”
Blanco believes tobacco is for everyone of age, not just the older generations. “We are seeing a new demographic come through,” he said. “People from 21 to 25 are coming to our shops to smoke and hang out, it makes for a fun work day.”
Kay-anna Goins, an Ole Miss student and Spring Street regular, said, “It is such a calm atmosphere to be in, and the fact that someone as young as Noah is working makes me feel more welcome.”
Blanco’s advice to newcomers is to understand where you are buying your products from, and not be scared to ask questions. He said, “Authorized sellers have to meet certain criteria and are held to high standards, and we want to share that with you. We really just want you to feel welcome and safe.”