smokeasysmokeasy Pennsylvania Bill Threatens Cigar Smoking in Currently Exempted Establishments]]>, 22 Feb 2020 03:53:12 +0000
Brothers and sisters of the leaf in the State of Pennsylvania, your cigar bars and other cigar-friendly establishments are in jeopardy. Check the article below from a local Harrisburg news site, then take action.
A new proposal from state lawmakers would change where smokers are allowed to light up in Pennsylvania. Representative Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) is introducing a Bill that would extend the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act to include all public places.
When the Clean Indoor Air Act was signed into law in 2008, smoking became illegal in most public places across the state. There are some exemptions, though.
“Current law allows smoking in some bars, in casinos, and sports venues. Right now, it’s perfectly legal to smoke after hours inside an in-home child care facility,” Frankel says.
House Bill 2298 would remove all exemptions of the Pennsylvania Clean Indoor Air Act. This includes bars, cigar bars, casinos, and private clubs. A full list of establishments currently exempt from the CIAA can be found here: Pennsylvania Department of Health Clean Indoor Air Act Exception Approvals (click on the county name for the list of establishments currently exempt).
By getting rid of exemptions to the law, Rep. Frankel says patrons and employees will be protected.
“Any workplace that subjects employees to cigarette smoke is an unsafe workplace,” he adds.
Another provision of the bill would include e-cigarettes in the definition of smoking. This would make vaping in any public place illegal if the Bill were to pass. Health officials are hoping this encourages people to stop vaping, cutting down on all types of second-hand smoke.
“According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the simplest and cheapest way to protect people from second-hand smoke is to create a smoke-free environment,” says Cindy Findley, a Deputy Secretary in the Pennsylvania Dept. of Health.
Lastly, the proposal would give local municipalities the ability to enact their own smoke-free ordinances. This would make it so the state Government wouldn’t be pre-empting local governments when it comes to smoke-free ordinances. If passed, Pennsylvania would become the 40th state to allow this.
“It’s time to care about our health, it’s time to care about our children’s health, it’s time to care about our neighbor’s health, it’s time to care about the health of our workers,” says Dr. Franziska Rosser, a Doctor at UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh.
The Bill will most likely be assigned to the House Health Committee. Companion legislation will be introduced in the Senate as well.
Say No To Smoking Ban In Pennsylvania
As the article above mentions, House Bill 2298 has been introduced in the Pennsylvania State House and proposes to ban smoking in cigar stores, cigar bars, casinos, bars, private clubs and outdoor spaces. Take action now, contact your representatives in Harrisburg and respectfully ask that they not support House Bill 2298 or any attempts to ban smoking in cigar stores and cigar bars in the Commonwealth. Pennsylvania residents, go to the Cigar Rights of America Action Center to compose a message to your state representative to request they not support the bill.
Punch Announces Release of Their New Full-Time Line "Knuckle Buster"]]>, 21 Feb 2020 22:46:05 +0000
Punch is set to launch a full-time, wallet and palate-pleasing line called “Knuckle Buster.” The three-cigar collection will begin shipping to retailers in March.
Named for a phrase made famous by a university basketball coach who described a rough and tumble physical game as a “Blue Collar Knuckle Buster,” the Punch Knuckle Buster was created to deliver a hardworking blend for hard working people.
Ed Lahmann, senior brand manager for Punch said, “Punch is committed to staying true to what the brand has represented over the last six decades: a consistent, well-made, no-nonsense cigar at a price that’s fair and reasonable. Punch Knuckle Buster honors this commitment with a solid, enticing blend for the people who work hard to enjoy the good life.”
Punch’s blending team at the HATSA cigar factory set out to make a medium-bodied cigar that would appeal to both new and seasoned smokers. They selected only Habano-seed tobaccos from Nicaragua and Honduras to deliver when it comes to balancing flavor and strength with complexity. Knuckle Buster has a Nicaraguan Habano wrapper, a Nicaraguan Habano binder and its filler tobaccos are from Nicaragua and Honduras.
Punch Knuckle Buster will ship to retailers on March 9 in these 3 sizes:
Robusto (4.5” x 52); SRP per cigar $4.99; Available in 25 count boxes Toro (6” x 50); SRP per cigar $5.49; Available in 25 count boxes Gordo (6.25” x 60) : SRP per cigar $5.99; Available in 20 count boxes
Lahmann continued, “Our hope is that Punch Knuckle Buster becomes a ‘go to’ blend that cigar smokers can rely on time and time again, without having to think twice when they hit the cash register or click on their carts. We want it to be the perfect smoke for walking the dog or mowing the lawn or enjoying with cigar smoking friends. Because after all, a cigar is not about money or status or boutique cigar makers. It’s about removing those barriers and enjoying a moment of well-earned relaxation.”
Punch cigars are handcrafted at General Cigar’s HATSA factory in Danli, Honduras.
Smokeasy Q&A]]>Smokeasy, 21 Feb 2020 05:00:00 +0000
Random questions frequently asked by novice smokers and aspiring cigar connoisseurs
I heard that the darker the wrapper, the stronger the cigar - is this true?
This is a very common cigar myth, and is extraordinarily far from the truth. Equating a cigar's wrapper with its strength is a huge misconception. And unfortunately, this misconception may deter a novice smoker from trying a phenomenal cigar for fear that the darker cigar may be to strong for them.
The strength of a cigar depends directly on the composition of the filler tobacco, not the wrapper. There are seven traditional shades or color of cigar wrappers, ranging from double claro (light green) to oscuro (almost black). Oscuro cigars may be mild in strength, just as lighter claro cigars may be very strong. Maduro leaves undergo a longer fermentation process and do not increase in strength, rather they become richer and a little sweeter, as the sugars develop.
And since we are talking about strength, many confuse strength with body in terms of flavor - strength refers to the nicotine potency (which may influence how you feel after a smoke) or the spice intensity; body refers to the richness and depth of tobacco flavor. Therefore, a strong cigar may be medium-bodied, and a mild-medium cigar may be full-bodied.
So, I encourage you to sample every color wrapper possible - and enjoy the journey as you refine your palate!
Glimpse of the Central Park Tower Sky-High Cigar Lounge, 15 Feb 2020 18:55:47 +0000
Central Park Tower, the tallest residential building in the world at 1,550 feet, has announced some details about what will be the world’s highest private club in a residential building. Developer Extell Development Company is putting the club on Central Park Tower’s 100th Floor. Located over 1,000 in the air, the Central Park Club will feature 50,000 square feet of entertainment and service space across three floors. The 100th floor spans over 8,300 square feet and includes a private ballroom, dining room, bar, full-service kitchen, and wine and cigar lounges, all with skyline views.
Interiors of the 100th floor were designed by Rottet Studio, who also designed the building’s residential interiors.
Additional amenities at Central Park Tower, located on the 14th and 16th floors, will include an outdoor terrace with swimming pool and cabanas, private screening room, residents’ lounge, children’s playground, a full floor of health, wellness, and spa amenities with fitness equipment.
Extell stated last September that first closings were slated for 2020 with available units starting at $6.9 million.
AVO Cigars Announces New Limited Edition Release]]>, 15 Feb 2020 18:27:41 +0000
Introducing the AVO Improvisation Limited Edition 2020
AVO Cigars, the global premium cigar brand, is proud to announce the eighth edition of the award winning AVO Improvisations Series. The annually launched Limited Edition inspired by the world of music and cigars, creates rich noteworthy experiences for all to celebrate.
“The AVO Improvisation 2020 is the eighth rendition of the highly anticipated annual series. Avo Uvezian believed that life is to be enjoyed fully and that one needs to go beyond the ordinary by taking risks and seizing opportunities whenever possible," states Edward Simon, Chief Marketing Officer at Oettinger Davidoff AG. "We honor the legacy and philosophy of Avo Uvezian with this one of kind masterpiece, the Improvisation 2020 cigar," Edward Simon continues. The AVO Improvisation 2020 blend is composed of different tobaccos from two different countries, including a stunning golden Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper that triggers additional creamy flavors delighting the palate with an initial aroma that features a combination of sweet cedar and earth. The Dominican binder leaf conceals four different filler tobaccos from the Dominican Republic, delivering a complex and elegant experience.
Cigar information Length: 6 1/2” (16.5cm) Diameter: 50 RG Format: Toro Wrapper: Ecuador Binder: Dominican Republic Filler: Dominican Republic
Launch and availability The AVO Improvisation Limited Edition 2020 will be available by March 22, 2020, in time to celebrate Avo Uvezian’s birthday, in select tobacco retail outlets with a limited production of 4,000 boxes
(launch dates may vary depending on country)
.About AVO Cigars AVO Cigars started when the brand's founder, Avo Uvezian, a legendary jazz and cigar composer of global fame met cigar master blender Hendrik Kelner in 1982 in the Dominican Republic. A fruitful cooperation between cigar pianist and cigar composer began to develop which resulted in the launch of the AVO Classic Series; an almost immediate success. Two creative masters collaborated with one purpose: help aficionados to “SAVOR EVERY NOTE” in life through delightful cigars. Avo Uvezian was a man of the world who savoured every note to the fullest. He cherished every moment in life with passion and showed insatiable thirst for connections with people from all walks of life.
Drew Estate Announces 2020 Barn Smoker Dates Across 5 States]]>, 11 Feb 2020 08:46:00 +0000
Drew Estate announces the launch of its 2020 Barn Smoker Program, with ticket sales for the Florida, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Kentucky and Louisiana events now available on Drew Estate Barn Smoker illuminates the American Tobacco Experience, bringing the cigar enthusiast to the field and farm level, and educating consumers on the full gamut of growing, processing, and manufacturing premium cigars.
Barn Smoker 2020 continues to expand the festival atmosphere that celebrates attendees love of the leaf and the Drew Estate Culture. Envisioned and inspired by Jonathan Drew to bring aficionados, brands, and local businesses to American Tobacco Farms, Barn Smoker events also serve to raise awareness for Cigars for Warriors, a 501(c)(3) charity, whose sole focus is to support the American military.
This year, the Barn Smoker program will feature a multi-level ticket opportunity to satisfy the wants of every valued attendee:
VIP Experience Ticket with Dinner Sponsored by Xikar and Cigar Caddy – Each VIP Experience Attendee will be a guest at an intimate dinner the evening before or after the Barn Smoker hosted by Jonathan Drew, Willy Herrera, Pedro Gomez and the entire Drew Estate team. As part of the VIP Experience ticket, each guest will receive 3 rare Drew Estate cigars and much more. In addition, VIP attendees will also receive a premium swag package at the Barn Smoker.
VIP Swag Ticket Sponsored by Xikar and Cigar Caddy – VIP Swag Ticket holders at Barn Smoker, will receive a premium swag package upgraded over General Admission.
General Admission – Admission to the Barn Smoker with general admission swag.
In addition to the three Barn Smoker packages, 2020 will feature an “All-Star” program, where guests can purchase tickets for all 5 events at a reduced cost and receive a unique Barn Smoker Challenge Coin Set including a Master Coin only available to Barn Smoker “All-Stars.” This historic Master Coin will also have future discounts and benefits at Barn Smoker 2021.
The 2020 Barn Smoker program creates an immersive deep dive into a variety of unique sensory activations, focusing on brands including Pappy Van Winkle, Joya de Nicaragua, and more.
From the Wynwood Safehouse, Jonathan Drew Founder and President of Drew Estate notes, “In 2019, we took Barn Smoker to another level. Now we have Pappy Van Winkle, Joya de Nicaragua, and all sorts of Sh*t to pump, pump, pump it up!! And for all you rock stars, superstars and Barn Smoker “All-Stars” you are gonna wanna snag your tickets today. I promise it’s worth it! Let’s go!”
The dates and locations of Drew Estate’s 2020 Barn Smokers are:
Florida Barn Smoker in Clermont, FL on May 16th, 2020Pennsylvania Barn Smoker in Strasburg, PA on July 25th, 2020Connecticut Barn Smoker in South Windsor, CT on August 8th, 2020Kentucky Barn Smoker in Hopkinsville, KY on September 26th, 2020Louisiana Barn Smoker in Convent, LA on October 24th, 2020
Tickets are available for purchase at and you can learn more about Barn Smokers via Instagram (@debarnsmoker) and Facebook (Drew Estate Barn Smoker).
About Drew Estate
Founded in New York City in 1996, Drew Estate has become one of the fastest growing tobacco companies in the world. Under their mantra “The Rebirth of Cigars”TM, Drew Estate has led the “Boutique Cigar” movement by innovating new elements to the tobacco industry with their unique tobaccos and blending styles that have attracted new and traditional cigar enthusiasts. In their Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, the Nicaraguan headquarters, Drew Estate produces a variety of brands such as ACID, Herrera Estelí, Herrera Estelí Norteño, Isla del Sol, Kentucky Fired Cured, Liga Privada, MUWAT, Larutan by Drew Estate, Nica Rustica, Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Fermented Cigars, Tabak Especial, Undercrown, Florida Sun Grown, and Java by Drew Estate.
Smokeasy Q&ASmokeasy, 07 Feb 2020 05:00:00 +0000
Random questions frequently asked by novice smokers and aspiring cigar connoisseurs
I saw some cigars in a shop covered with some white shit - why would they keep those moldy cigars on their shelves?
Maaannnn, that's good shit right there!
The white powdery substance that you may find on a cigar wrapper (the actual cigar wrapper, and sometimes on the inside of the cellophane wrapper) is called plume (or bloom). As a cigar ages, some of its oils may slowly exude from within the cigar over time through the wrapper. The oils dry and subsequently crystallize on the wrapper, forming a white, fuzzy plume - it's completely natural, harmless, and a sign that the cigar is aging quite well.
Many mistake plume for mold, which is generally bluish in color and will absolutely ruin cigars. Mold is generally caused when cigars are stored in a warmer, over-humidified environment. In addition, mold will appear in spots giving the cigar wrapper a blotchy appearance. Plume covers a larger surface area on the wrapper, and will flake off when rubbed; mold won't.
So next time you see a cigar with plume, either gently rub it off with your fingers before lighting, or just say "Screw it!" and light that puppy up and enjoy!
Questions? Hit me up via e-mail at, on Twitter (@smokeasyblog), or on my Facebook page (Smokeasy).
DC Judge Strikes Down FDA's Premium Cigar Warning Label Decision]]>, 04 Feb 2020 14:47:09 +0000
February 3, 2020 - US District Court Judge Ahmet Mehta today ruled against FDA and vacated the requirement for health warnings on premium cigar packages and advertisements. The court concluded that FDA failed to provide a “reasoned explanation” for requiring such warnings on premium cigars and that, based on “usage patterns and user demographics,” the FDA health warnings were not justified. As a result, the court vacated the health warnings provision, as to premium cigars.
The decision was in a case filed in Texas by Texas manufacturers and retailers, and transferred to Washington DC, where it was consolidated with the industry action pending there. Judge Mehta, who has had that case since it was filed in July 2016, previously upheld the health warning requirements as to all cigars, and the appeal of that decision is still pending in the DC Circuit Court. Notably, while the health warnings requirement has been vacated as to premium cigars, there is still no FDA definition for “premium” cigar. Accordingly, that definition remains unclear.
For context, premium cigar packaging panels (lid and front side) and conventional advertising (magazines and web content) would have been impacted because blatant warning messages would have been required to cover 20-30% of advertising in all media. Additionally, any contact beyond direct consumer engagement–social media posts, catalogs, email content, and most other avenues of communication would have been affected. The required warning statement regulation was set to take effect in August 2018 (see New FDA Webinar for Cigar Manufacturers: Required Warning Statements). Also see the the FDA's Cigar Labeling and Warning Statement Requirements effective August 13, 2018.
Drew Newman, General Counsel and Great-Grandson of the Founder of JC Newman Cigar Co., stated:
"Today is an important and historic day for the American premium cigar industry, and we should celebrate it. However, our victory is not complete. Premium cigars are still regulated by FDA, and we are 99 days away from the May 12, 2020 premarket review deadline. In three months, we will be required to file substantial equivalency reports for all new cigars first sold after 2007. This is a monumental and exorbitantly expensive requirement that no one has been able to meet, and we urgently need relief from it."
Going forward, non-premium cigars will be required to exhibit warning labels.
Memorable Smokes - January 2020Smokeasy, 01 Feb 2020 10:38:31 +0000
Smokeasy's top 4 memorable smokes for the month of January
A. Flores 1975 Gran Reserva Maduro (PDR Cigars)
This cigar was launched in 2018 as the 4th addition to the A Flores 1975 Gran Reserva line (Corojo 2006, Sungrown, and Desflorado). The Corojo 2006 was my favorite, especially the Half Corona which I affectionately refer to as "lil bastard"; however, I just got my hands on this Maduro about a month ago, and I think it may be my absolute favorite of the entire PDR Cigars portfolio. I started with 10, I have none left - time to put this in regular rotation...
Country of origin: Dominican Republic
Wrapper: Mexico San Andres Maduro
Binder: Olor Dominican Republic
Filler: Corojo Dominican Republic; Habano Nicaragua
Vitolas (5): Robusto (5" x 52); Grand Toro (6" x 54); Torpedo (6½" x 52); Double Magnum (6" x 60); Half Corona (3½" x 46)
Medium-full bodied | Medium-full strength
Joya de Nicaragua Antaño Dark Corojo (Joya de Nicaragua, SA)By far, the boldest, most robust cigar of the entire Joya de Nicaragua portfolio - and of course, my favorite! This is one cigar I definitely keep in rotation, but primarily in cycles. I've been smoking these for many years now, but just added a few back to the humidor as of late. The Pesadilla is my favorite vitola - nice, short and stocky cigar with a torpedo-like head. This is classified as "extra strength" and "extra full-bodied" and that should be respected. Novices need not even pick up this stick; just don't do it to yourself. It's very spicy with a pungent barnyard aroma, and retrohaling may feel like the hairs in your nostrils are being singed. This is definitely one of my favorite morning sticks with a mug of Cafe Bustelo though...
Country of origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: NIcaragua Corojo Oscuro
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua
Vitolas (6): Poderoso (6" x 54); La Niveladora (6" x 52); El Martillo (5½" x 54); Peligroso (5" x 44); La Pesadilla (4¾" x 60); Azarosa (4½" x 52)
Full bodied | Full strength
Leaf By Oscar Maduro (Oscar Valladares Tobacco & Co.)
This is the one cigar that I definitely spend the most time with the pre-light ritual of admiring the aesthetics. You just can't help being intrigued by a cigar wrapped in an actual raw natural tobacco leaf instead of cellophane. And you can't help but to gently unwrap in attempts to keep the entire leaf intact. Leaf by Oscar was originally started as a house blend cigar for "Island Jim" Robinson’s Leaf and Bean in the Strip retail store in Pittsburgh, PA. The line consists of 4 blends: Connecticut, Maduro (my favorite), Corojo (will only smoke if my Maduro is not in stock!), and Sumatra. This is a stick that whenever I see it in a brick-and-mortar, I just have to pick up at least 2, sometimes 4.
Country of origin: Honduras
Wrapper: Nicaragua (Jalapa)
Binder: Honduras
Filler: Honduras
Vitolas (2): Toro (6" x 50); Double Toro/Gordo (6" x 60)
Medium-full bodied | Medium strength
CAO Flathead V19 Camshaft (CAO Cigars; General Cigar Company)
When CAO released the Flathead line within their New Age portfolio in 2013, I fell in love with the V554 Camshaft, and smoked it quite frequently Subsequently, the Flathead Steel Horse was released and captured my attention for awhile. Blender/Ambassador of CAO Cigars, Ricky Rodriguez, and his team sought to do things a little but differently - refine the original Flathead blend with a shortened fermentation phase to lock in the tobacco’s native flavors and added a longer aging process. The blend is the same as the original Flathead, except the Nicaraguan binder was replaced with a Connecticut broadleaf binder in efforts to create a fuller bodied offering. They got me with this one - I'm hooked...
Country of origin: Honduras
Wrapper: US (Connecticut broadleaf)
Binder: US (Connecticut Habano)
Filler: Dominican Republic; Nicaragua
Vitolas (2): Camshaft (5½" x 50); Carb (6" x 60)
Full bodied | Medium strength
TPE 2020: Winners of the Tobacco Business Awards, 01 Feb 2020 08:43:08 +0000
The 2020 Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE) trade show concluded on Thursday, January 30 with the 3rd annual Tobacco Business Awards ceremony.
The Tobacco Business Awards recognize exceptional and outstanding entrepreneurs, businesses and brands operating within the cigar industry, and awards are also granted in other categories, such as retailers, franchises, mass-market products, and accessories. Nominations were generated from the entire industry, including retailers, manufacturers, and consumers and close to 11,000 votes were cast.
Here are this year's Tobacco Business Awardees (click each picture for award category and awardee):
*The Hugo Chairman Award, named after Kretek International’s chairman Hugh Cassar, was chosen by the Tobacco Business magazine staff and a select number of industry insiders.
Update on Recent Legislation Affecting Premium Cigars]]>, 30 Jan 2020 00:36:25 +0000
Interesting legislative news posted on over the past few days from the National Association of Tobacco Outlets, Inc. (NATO)*. Below are some highlights of activity on state tobacco bills that pertain to the brothers & sisters of the leaf.
Legislative Action on State Tobacco Bills Recent action that has taken place on tobacco-related bills pending in state legislatures:
Georgia: Bill 731 increases the tax on cigarettes by $1.50 per pack, the tax on cigars by 19%, and the tax on loose tobacco by 32%, read for a second time in the House.
Indiana:Senate Bill 1, which prohibits a person under age 21 from buying or possessing tobacco products or electronic cigarettes and triples the civil penalties for underage sales violation, passed in the Senate on January 23, 2020. House Bill 1006, which requires a person to be at least 21 to purchase tobacco products; requires age verification of a purchaser who appears to be under age 30; increases penalties (including loss of license) for underage sales; prohibits a tobacco business from locating within 1,000 feet of a school (current locations grandfathered) passed the House on January 21, 2020.
Missouri: House Bill 2159 increases the purchase age for tobacco and vapor products from 18 to 21 years of age and bans the sale of flavored tobacco products, has been withdrawn from further consideration.
New Jersey: Assembly Bill 5922/5923 (combined) revises the requirements for the sale of tobacco and vapor products—increases penalties for violations; increases license fees; prohibits the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies; bans the sale of electronic smoking devices designed to mimic another object (e.g. flash drive); prohibits the sale of vaping liquids with a nicotine concentration greater than two percent (Vetoed by the Governor).
Newly Introduced State Tobacco Bills
Arizona: House Bill 2636 raises the minimum legal sales age for tobacco products to 21, requires retailers to verify age of purchasers who are under 30, creates a state tobacco retail licensing program and authorizes local jurisdictions to license and further regulate tobacco products. House Bill 2637 expands the restriction on on-line delivery sales to all tobacco products (including electronic cigarettes, cigars and pipe tobacco).
Hawaii: House Bill 1718, Senate Bill 2101 and Senate Bill 2173 authorize counties to regulate tobacco products.
Iowa: SSB3016 raises the age to purchase tobacco products to twenty-one (21); referred to the State Government Committee.
New Jersey: Assembly Bill 526 requires a manufacturer of cigarettes, tobacco products, and electronic smoking devices to forward to the Department of the Treasury, on a quarterly basis, $.25 of every $1 that the manufacturer spends on advertising or marketing cigarettes, tobacco products, or electronic smoking devices in the state.
New Mexico: House Bill 66 increases the legal purchase age for tobacco products and vapor products from 18 to 21 years of age. Senate Bill 166 increases the legal purchase age for tobacco products and vapor products from 18 to 21 years of age; alters the licensing requirements for the manufacture and retail sale of tobacco products; prohibits the self-service display of tobacco products except in an age-controlled retailer; and prohibits anyone from providing samples of tobacco products.
South Dakota: House Bill 1063 increases the legal purchase age for tobacco products to 21 years of age.
*NATO is a national trade association organized to enhance the common business interests of all tobacco retailers and to monitor and assist members in responding to tobacco-related legislation on the local, state and federal levels.
TPE 2020 Release: Drew Estate Liga Privada Unico Serie to Celebrate the Year of the Rat]]>, 26 Jan 2020 04:56:30 +0000
Check out the press release from Drew Estate announcing their new release at the upcoming Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE) trade show January 29-31, 2020:
Drew Estate announces today the launch of the Liga Privada Unico Year of the Rat for upcoming Drew Diplomat events to coincide with the Chinese New Year. The Liga Privada Unico Year of the Rat will be showcased at the upcoming TPE trade show held in Las Vegas, NV on January 29th-31st.
The Liga Privada Unico Year of the Rat cigars are presented in a 5½” x 46 vitola featuring the iconic fan tail featured on many Unico Serie cigars. The cigar is highlighted by a lush Connecticut Broadleaf capa with a flavorful Brazilian binder and rich Nicaraguan and Honduran fillers. Each Year of the Rat is wrapped in gold foil packaged in a beautifully embossed, blue Liga Privada Unico box.
This cigar will only be available for purchase at Drew Diplomat Retail events starting in April. Each store hosting a Drew Diplomat event will be able to purchase up to four boxes that will be made available for sale to consumers.
From the Wynwood Safehouse, Jonathan Drew Founder and President of Drew Estate exclaims, “This one is for all you Dirty Rats out there …! You hunters, hoarders and enjoyers of everything Liga Privada. For the last few years, the only way to snag this stick was during one of my personal DE events. Now, however, I feel is the right time to broaden the distribution of YEAR OF THE RAT and make it a bit easier for you Dirtys to get at it. So, please do like Chuck and hit up our DDRP events … and “go get some!”
The Liga Privada Unico Year of the Rat is presented in a 10-count box with an MSRP of $159.97/box of 10.
About Drew Estate
Founded in New York City in 1996, Drew Estate has become one of the fastest growing tobacco companies in the world. Under their mantra “The Rebirth of Cigars”TM, Drew Estate has led the “Boutique Cigar” movement by innovating new elements to the tobacco industry with their unique tobaccos and blending styles that have attracted new and traditional cigar enthusiasts. In their Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, the Nicaraguan headquarters, Drew Estate produces a variety of brands such as ACID, Herrera Estelí, Herrera Estelí Norteño, Isla del Sol, Kentucky Fired Cured, Liga Privada, MUWAT, Larutan by Drew Estate, Nica Rustica, Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Fermented Cigars, Tabak Especial, Undercrown, Florida Sun Grown, and Java by Drew Estate.
Update on Recent Legislation Affecting Premium Cigars]]>, 24 Jan 2020 17:35:08 +0000
Interesting legislative news posted on over the past few days from the National Association of Tobacco Outlets, Inc. (NATO)*. Below are some highlights of activity on state tobacco bills that pertain to the brothers & sisters of the leaf.
Legislative Action on State Tobacco Bills Recent action that has taken place on tobacco-related bills pending in state legislatures:
Florida: Senate Bill 810, which increases the purchase age for tobacco and vapor products from 18 to 21 years of age, was referred to Senate Committee on Rules.
Kentucky: Senate Bill 56, which prohibits the sale of tobacco products and vapor products to persons under the age of 21, reported favorably from the Senate Health and Welfare Committee on January 15, 2020.
New Jersey: The following bills passed the Assembly and the Senate on January 13, 2020: Assembly Bill 5922—5923 (combined) passed, which revises the requirements for the sale of tobacco and vapor products—increases penalties for violations; increases license fees; prohibits the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies; bans the sale of electronic smoking devices designed to mimic another object (e.g. flash drive); prohibits the sale of vaping liquids with a nicotine concentration greater than two percent [Note: Assembly Bill 5922-5923 was vetoed by the New Jersey Governor].
New York: The following bills were heard in and reported from the Senate Health Committee on January 14, 2020:
Senate Bill 1148, which prohibits the use of coupons or use of a price reduction instrument to lower the price of certain tobacco productsSenate Bill 4249, which limits the number of retail electronic cigarette stores in cities and towns based on proximity to schools, places of worship and other retail electronic cigarette stores----prohibits new locations of retail electronic cigarette stores and tobacco businesses on the same street within 200 feet of buildings exclusively used for schools and places of worship, in a city within 500 feet of three or more existing stores and within a town or village within a two square mile area of three or more existing stores
Virginia: House Bill 1120, which increases the tax on cigarettes to $1.50 per pack and increases tax on OTP by 29%, and creates a vapor tax of 39%, was referred to House Committee on Finance. House Bill 1283, which prohibits the sale of tobacco products through self-service vending machines and prohibits tobacco sales within 1000 feet of a youth-oriented facility, and prohibits online sales of tobacco and vapor products, was referred to House Committee on Courts of Justice.
Newly Introduced State Tobacco Bills
Florida: Senate Bill 694 prohibits the sale of flavored e-liquid, prohibits self-service sales of tobacco products, prohibits the sale of tobacco or vapor products unless in a direct, face-to-face exchange with the retailer.
Georgia: Senate Bill 298 increases the purchase age for tobacco and vapor products from 18 to 21 years of age. House Bill 731 increases the tax on cigarettes by $1.50 per pack, the tax on cigars by 19%, and the tax on loose tobacco by 32%.
Hawaii: House Bill 1666 extends the radius from 1000 feet to 1500 feet of any school where it is prohibited to distribute sample tobacco products, promotional materials, and coupons redeemable for tobacco products.
Indiana: House Bill 1351 establishes a minimum purchase age of 21; requires a tobacco business to be 1,000 feet from schools (current businesses grandfathered in). Senate Bill 423 requires an individual to be at least 21 years of age to purchase, possess or sell tobacco, e-liquid or electronic cigarettes.
Missouri: House Bill 2159 increases the purchase age for tobacco and vapor products from 18 to 21 years of age and bans the sale of flavored tobacco products.
Oklahoma: Senate Bill 1423 (pre-filed) increases the legal age to purchase and possess tobacco products and vapor products from 18 to 21 years of age.
Rhode Island: House Bill 7041 raises the legal age to 21 for the purchase of tobacco products, electronic nicotine delivery systems and liquid nicotine containers.
*NATO is a national trade association organized to enhance the common business interests of all tobacco retailers and to monitor and assist members in responding to tobacco-related legislation on the local, state and federal levels.
TPE 2020 Release: Southern Draw Cigars New Cedrus Lancero]]>, 24 Jan 2020 07:40:15 +0000
Per Tobacco Business Magazine, Southern Draw Cigars is announcing their new release at the upcoming Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE) trade show January 29-31, 2020:
Southern Draw Cigars is making its first ever appearance as an exhibitor at Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE) 2020 and is debuting new Lancero size of its popular Cedrus line at the trade show.
launched at the 2018 International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers (IPCPR) trade show and convention and uses the company’s most diverse blend selection to date, featuring an Indonesian wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, and select fillers from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. The Lancero format is box-pressed and measures 7½" x 40. The company plans to release 50,000 of these cigars in 2020.
In a press release, Southern Draw Cigars’ Robert Holt commented: “Southern Draw Cigars has been quietly enjoying this size for several years and plans to reveal Cedrus Lancero 7½" x 40 in celebration of our first-ever attendance the Tobacco Plus Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada, from Jan. 29-31.
“The family and the Cedrus Lancero may be found in a quaint little corner of Booth #4059. We have previously offered a Lancero size in each of our core blends including the popular Rose of Sharon, Firethorn, Kudzu and Jacobs Ladder and this new addition will complement the Cedrus line nicely. Although lanceros reportedly do not make up a large portion of sales for most brands, Southern Draw Cigars has been blessed with solid sales over the previous five years, sales that are on par with our more traditional Robusto and Toro sizes. We will have a limited number of samples on hand and will be taking pre-orders for April and July 2020 deliveries.”
Southern Draw Cedrus Lancero is expected to begin shipping to retailers staggered throughout the year–April 15, July 15, and Oct. 15, 2020. The cigars are packaged in the company’s new “shoebox” layout that made its debut at IPCPR 2019 in quantities of 20 per box. MSRP is $10.20 per box.
For all the latest news from Southern Draw Cigars, visit
TPE 2020 Release: Villiger do Brasil Claro and Maduro Brazilian Puros, 24 Jan 2020 07:25:00 +0000
Per Tobacco Business Magazine, Villiger Cigars is announcing their new release at the upcoming Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE) trade show January 29-31, 2020:
Villiger Cigars has announced a new cigar brand that will make its debut at Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE) 2020. Villiger do Brasil is a Brazilian puro that features two blends, Claro and Maduro, created to celebrate Villiger’s century long history with Brazilian tobacco. Villiger’s new factory in Bahia, Brazil that opened in 2018 is also named Villiger do Brasil, which translates from Portuguese to “Villiger of Brazil.”
The Villiger family has a long history with Brazilian tobacco that dates back to 1888. It was then when Jean and his wife Louise Villiger first imported Brazilian tobacco, shortly after founding the company. Later in 1979 a Villiger subsidiary company opened Porto Alegre (Rio Grande do Sul), Brazil. The company was named Charutos Tobajara Limitada and produced handmade cigars for export to Germany and Switzerland. Later, Villiger moved operations to Northern Brazil (Bahia) where the new Villiger do Brazil factory was opened.
“My family saw the value in Brazilian tobacco when they began Villiger Cigars as very small operation in 1888,” explains Heinirch Villiger, chairman of the board at Villiger. “Brazilian tobacco is unique, as its structure is very robust, which leads to strong aromas and flavors. Its distinct qualities can only be created in Bahia, Brazil. We look forward to sharing the Villiger do Brasil brand with the United States marketplace.”
Villiger do Brasil is offered in two different blends: Claro and Maduro. The light Brazil Connecticut Shade wrapper gives the Claro blend a velvet light brown tone that visually supports its balance and fine aromas. According to the company, the Claro blend is defined by a subtle sweetness with hints of cedar and pepper. The Maduro blend is darker due to the Arapiraca tobacco and has silky dark brown wrapper. Flavor wise, the Maduro version has notes of leather and coffee. Both are described as medium-bodied, though the Maduro blend is slightly stronger.
Villiger do Brasil Claro and Maduro will be available in 5-count boxes as a Robusto (5" x 50) and Toro (6" x 50). MSRP ranges from $9 to $9.50 per cigar.
For all the latest news from Villiger Cigars, visit
TPE 2020 Release: Espinosa Premium Cigars Bringing Back the Old @ZUCAR With New Vitolas]]>, 24 Jan 2020 07:11:42 +0000
Per Tobacco Business Magazine, Espinosa Premium Cigars is bringing @ZUCAR for release at the upcoming Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE) trade show January 29-31, 2020:
Espinosa Premium Cigars is bringing back its first and only flavored cigar just in time for Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE) 2020–@ZUCAR.
Originally launched at the 2016 International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers (IPCPR) trade show, @ZUCAR debuted in three size formats and an affordable price range of $3.40 to $3.90. These cigars are different from others in Espinosa’s portfolio in that it features a sweetened vanilla-flavored tip and is also made in the Dominican Republic with Espinosa’s manufacturing partner Aveja Cigar Factory.
At TPE 2020, @ZUCAR will be revived and available in four different sizes–Cañita (5" x 30), Lonsdale (6" x 44), Robusto (5" x 50), and Toro (6" x 50)–and packaged in more traditional, retail friendly boxes of 25 cigars. @ZUCAR will continue production at the Aveja Cigar Factory in the Dominican Republic and will be re-blended to showcase Dominican long fillers and a Dominican wrapper, along with a sweetened vanilla cap.
Pricing and a release date for Espinosa have yet to be confirmed. For all the latest news from Espinosa Cigars, visit
TPE 2020 Release: Ventura Cigar Company's Archetype Master and Pupil, 24 Jan 2020 06:59:33 +0000
Check out the press release from Ventura Cigar Company about their new release to debut at the upcoming Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE) 2020 trade show:
Unveiling new insights in the Archetype story, Ventura Cigar Company is pleased to announce Master and Pupil, two new cigars that examine strength and transitions through rich tobacco blends crafted by Juan Martinez and Doctor Cuenca from Joya de Nicaragua. The industry will get a first look at Master and Pupil at the TPE 2020, held in Las Vegas, Nevada, 1/29/20 – 1/31/20. Customers can expect to see the cigars at fine tobacconists online and across the country soon after.
Inspired by the studies of both Sigmund Freud and Karl Jung, who identified common threads and themes of storytelling that transcend both time and culture, Archetype cigars outline the familiar tale of a hero’s journey, with cigars punctuating each crucial stage. Master and Pupil incorporates the essence of Freud and Jung, teacher and student, and tensions uncovered with the reversal of roles and transition of student to teacher.
The Pupil is mild and relaxed in nature, and features an Ecuadoran Connecticut wrapper, Nicaraguan filler, and a Nicaraguan binder. It will be available as a 6" x 52 Toro.
The Master is a bold, confident cigar that’s crafted with a Nicaraguan wrapper, filler, and binder. It will also be available as a 6" x 52 Toro.
“No matter where you are in life, you are a master or a pupil. And then, one day, you are both,” says Michael Giannini, General Manager of Ventura Cigar Company. “We are students first, learning from those who came before. And then we find ourselves as the teachers, imparting our knowledge on others just starting their quest. We are never fully done learning, either, so the roles of teacher and student are fluid, always changing. The Archetype Master and Pupil cigars explore these transitions and tensions through blends that offer strength and nuance throughout the smoke. We’ve worked on these for over a year with the masters at Joya de Nicaragua, of whom we are all students. These cigars are solid. If you’re coming to TPE 2020, come by the Ventura Cigar booth to say hi and check them out. And if you’re not at the show, well, keep an eye out.”
Master and Pupil are the latest releases to Archetype, a line marked by highly rated cigars that include Dreamstate, Sage Advice, Strange Passage, Initiation, and Axis Mundi, in addition to the 2018 3-cigar mini-series Crystals, Curses, and Cloaks. Master and Pupil are scheduled to ship immediately after TPE 2020. For additional information, please visit
About Ventura Cigar Company
Ventura Cigar Company (VCC) is a unique cigar brand born in sunny Southern California that is on a mission to create memorable, complex cigar blends that excite the senses and reward discriminating palates. Their flagship Archetype, Case Study, Project805, and PSyKo SEVEN brands offer multiple award-winning blends that earned 90+ ratings in Cigar Aficionado, Cigar & Spirits, and Cigar Snob. And Archetype’s Axis Mundi won #13 Cigar of the Year for 2017 from Cigar Aficionado. Ventura Cigar Company also distributes Tommy Bahama Luxury Cigar Accessories and the 4th Generation Tobacconist and Comoy’s of London lines of pipe tobacco products, extending its reach and tradition of offering top-quality tobacconist products. Pipes and blends under these brands are cultivated through generations of craftsmanship, making them longtime favorites of pipe tobacco enthusiasts.
TPE 2020 Release: Drew Estate Launches Undercrown Corona Pequena Line Extension]]>, 24 Jan 2020 06:45:54 +0000
Drew Estate announces today the national launch of the Undercrown Corona Pequena in both Maduro and Shade wrappers. These cigars will be showcased at the upcoming Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE) trade show held in Las Vegas, NV on January 29th-31st.
The Undercrown Corona Pequena is a 4” x 44 petite corona, perfect to light up on the go or on those frigid winter days. The Undercrown Maduro Corona Pequena features a Mexican San Andres Maduro wrapper, Connecticut Stalk Cut and Sun cured Habano binder, and Brazilian and Nicaraguan filler leaves. The Undercrown Shade Corona Pequena features an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper over a Sumatra binder with Dominican and Nicaraguan Filler leaves.
From the Wynwood Safehouse, Jonathan Drew Founder and President of Drew Estate adds, “Corona Pequena’s are short, squat, flavor bombs that sit between the tin size and the robusto size in the Undercrown brand family. We could go on and on about the “functionality” of this short smoke during winter months – but there is something absolutely beautiful about the Corona Pequena that is more meaningful than just utilitarianism. This cigar is a stunner in both taste and trade dress. The whole DE team is really proud of this little gem. Wurd to Westchester.”
The Undercrown Corona Pequena is packaged in 32 count boxes with an MSRP of $176.00/box, available in both Maduro and Shade, and is shipping in early February.
About Drew Estate
Founded in New York City in 1996, Drew Estate has become one of the fastest growing tobacco companies in the world. Under their mantra “The Rebirth of Cigars”TM, Drew Estate has led the “Boutique Cigar” movement by innovating new elements to the tobacco industry with their unique tobaccos and blending styles that have attracted new and traditional cigar enthusiasts. In their Gran Fabrica Drew Estate, the Nicaraguan headquarters, Drew Estate produces a variety of brands such as ACID, Herrera Estelí, Herrera Estelí Norteño, Isla del Sol, Kentucky Fired Cured, Liga Privada, MUWAT, Larutan by Drew Estate, Nica Rustica, Pappy Van Winkle Barrel Fermented Cigars, Tabak Especial, Undercrown, Florida Sun Grown, and Java by Drew Estate.
Oliva Cigars Opens Its New Tabolisa 1 Factory in Esteli]]>, 24 Jan 2020 05:22:15 +0000
Oliva Cigars has announced it is to officially open its Nicaraguan Tabolisa 1 facility at an inauguration ceremony in Esteli, Nicaragua
To mark the opening, Oliva will unveil a limited edition of the first 5,000 Oliva Serie V Double Robusto’s made in this new facility. All of these products will be individually numbered and packed in boxes with the design mirroring the new factory.
As reported, Oliva Cigars was acquired by Belgian cigar supplier J. Cortès in 2016, which showcased Oliva products for the first time at TFWA Cannes later that year.
The inauguration marks the end of a three-year project, which began in November 2016 with the start of construction on the new facility. The box factory was completed in 2017. This was followed by Tabolisa 2 in December 2019 and now the main Tabolisa 1 factory.
Phase one included expanding the packaging area, increasing the finished product cool storage warehouse capacity from two 40 ft containers to eight and incorporating new freezers. All of this was completed by December 2018. Since then, the focus has been renovating the existing site building.
Other priorities were increasing space in the cigar room and raising the size of the packaging warehouse from 400 sq ft to 6,800 sq ft.
According to the company, the aim of the project was to increase efficiency and capacity for the production of Oliva Cigars. The new building increases the capacity of the leaf curing and fermentation processing area from 50 pilones of tobacco (large piles of tobacco) to 100.
From this year, the Tabliosa 1 facility will significantly increase cigar production capacity. Capacity for employee health facilities, cigar storage, packaging, freezing and ageing rooms will also increase.
Speaking at the opening ceremony last year, Fred Vandemarliere, Owner of J. Cortès said: “The Oliva family offered our family a real gem by selling us Oliva Cigars. Without them, we would never be where we are now, but to let a diamond shine, you need to work it.
“We try to do this with care and the opening of Tabolisa 1 is a clear example of this promise. Cory, Fidel and their team did a fantastic job ensuring we got this facility to the level we wanted. We want to make good cigars with love. It seems easy to say, but here is proof that we thought about all three words in this sentence.”
Producing top quality products continues to be the main priority, according to Vandemarliere: “We are aware that someone who sits down, relaxes and wants to enjoy a good cigar does not want to compromise on quality. We don’t want to destroy this holy moment. We want to embrace it and give a perfect product. We have, therefore, invested in extra capacity in our fermentation and ageing rooms.
“A cigar is a natural product and time is one of the most important elements to make it good. We now have extra space to give extra time.”
If smokers want to enjoy a cigar they need to find it in a shop: “Bigger is not better, but if people want to find our cigars around the world, we need to make sure we have them available. As such, we are happy to have the space now to make more cigars if needed.”
Addressing the love element, Vandemarliere said cigars were a very sensitive product, but ‘very easy to screw up’ even if they are perfect quality. “The work people do inside this facility is amazing and deserves the maximum appreciation. We want to put our hand where our mouth is by giving them the best possible environment to work in with good lightning, space to work, cozy break-rooms and a primary healthcare clinic if needed.
“We are sure everyone will be rewarded from the love they put into making the best possible cigars in the world. This opening and investment demonstrates our commitment to Nicaragua and in particular, our belief in the future of Oliva’s premium cigars.”
He concluded: “We know we make a product that can damage your health, but not only do we clearly advise smoking in moderation, but also think there are positive effects of enjoying a good cigar. Cigar smoking can be good medicine for burn-outs. People are always connected and our brains run very fast. This is fantastic and makes the turn around faster.
”On the flip-side, this can be too much, emphasized Vandemarliere. “Disconnection from this hectic world is therefore more and more of a necessity. A cigar can, among other things, be the perfect medium for this disconnection. That’s why we keep on saying: #dontsmokebutenjoy!!”
Smokeasy Q&A]]>Smokeasy, 24 Jan 2020 05:00:00 +0000
Random questions frequently asked by novice smokers and aspiring cigar connoisseurs
Why do you puff on your cigars before you light them?
Taking pulls from my unlit cigar after cutting the cap (via guillotine, punch, or V-cut) is part of my pre-light ritual. After, 1) taking time to assess the construction and the aesthetics of the wrapper of my cigar; 2) taking note of the aromas emanating from the wrapper and the foot; 3) gently squeezing the cigar from cap to foot to evaluate its suppleness; and 4) applying the appropriate cut, I spend some time taking a series of cold draws (also known as dry draws or pre-draws).
Cold draws refers to draws on an unlit cigar in efforts to determine if the cigar will have an easy, moderate, or difficult draw once it is lit and smoked. Once this is determined, I take multiple cold draws (some long and slow, some short and fast) to taste the filler tobaccos prior to lighting to evaluate the flavor profile and pick up on subtle flavor notes.
The cool thing about taking cold draws is that sometimes you pick up some nice flavors - you may encounter some cocoa, coffee, leather, or sweetness, just to name of few; or sometimes you may not pick up any flavors at all. In some cases, cold draws will not dictate the actual flavor profile of the cigar - you may pick up some coffee notes and some sweetness on cold draw, but once the cigar is lit and smoked, you may not encounter these flavors at all. The same phenomena occurs vice versa, as cold draws may be rather bland, but some serious flavors may be unlocked as you progress through the smoke.
I may only spend a few seconds taking cold draws - I may take up to 10 minutes, depending on the cigar. Whatever your pre-light ritual may be, ensure that you take some time to incorporate cold-drawing to maximize your smoking experience!
Questions? Hit me up via e-mail at, on Twitter (@smokeasyblog), or on my Facebook page (Smokeasy).
More Announcements on Support/Withdrawal from the Upcoming PCA Trade Show]]>, 23 Jan 2020 00:04:22 +0000
It's been close to 2 weeks since the news broke that 4 of the largest cigar manufacturers, including Davidoff, Altadis U.S.A., Drew Estate, and General Cigar Co., have withdrawn from participation in the 2020 Premium Cigar Association (PCA) trade show and convention this July in Las Vegas (see Four of the Largest Cigar Manufacturers Have Pulled Out From the 2020 PCA Trade Show). Since then, a number of manufacturers, cigar associations, and retailers have been releasing statements announcing their support of or withdrawal from the trade show.
Add ACE Prime Cigars to the roster of manufacturers who have committed to participation:
“Having the opportunity to meet face-to-face with the everyday heroes of our industry has proved to be a tremendous success for our brand,” said ACE Prime co-founder Luciano Meirelles. He continued, “at the 2020 PCA trade show, we’re excited to showcase our great cigars and launch new products.
"We have been producing award-winning cigars for some of the most high-profile brands in the industry for over 12 years. When it was time to launch our own brands, we decided PCA was the best place to leverage our existing relationships and also connect with retailers, boutique lounges, media partners, and experts, all in one place. PCA brings together the heart and soul of the cigar sector – it’s family, and we are truly grateful for the support of new brands – especially for making ACE Prime a success.
"We’re excited about the #PCA2020 (trade show). We’re doubling down on our commitment to the event and look forward to rising above the noise."
Today, Kretek International, Inc., the parent company of Tobacco Media Group (TMG), the publisher of Tobacco Business Magazine and owner of the Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE), has announced its decision not to exhibit at the PCA trade show (which also impacts its subsidiary Ventura Cigar Company):
“We have always treated the PCA trade show as a smart launching pad for new releases and the best opportunity for retailers and suppliers to meet and build strong relationships,” says Sean Cassar, president of Kretek International, Inc. “We’ve enjoyed learning about industry trends while receiving some of the biggest orders of our year at the show. The decision to move away from PCA was not an easy one, but after reviewing the state of the industry and our business, we recognize that our goals are not aligned.”
According to Tobacco Business Magazine, Kretek went on to state that it believes that all cigar manufacturers and importer should be working together, willing to openly discuss and manage efforts, as part of the PCA rebranding initiatives. The rebranding efforts must direct the premium cigar legislative and regulatory endeavors in order to get the most benefit from the collective financial contributions made by the industry rather than splinter the industry into separate entities as is occurring this year.
Kretek International also questions the direction and focus of the PCA, which it says seems to “sacrifice segments of the industry inhales of saving others.” While the tactics may seem logical, the press release states, Kretek does not believe the end result will be favorable if the course isn’t changed.
“Our Canadian subsidiary operated under this exact pretense,” says Cassar in the press release. “And the results were devastating. Driven primarily through big tobacco’s efforts, the market went dark, cigar stores lost their ability to have smoking lounges, stores could no longer advertise products, and in the end the market went to plain packaging across all categories. Small, independent family businesses in this environment had taken the approach that it was better to give up an arm to save the body. But in the end the regulators took both the arms, the legs, and whatever else they could find. And we’re just not willing to go down that road-especially when we know the outcome.”
Below is the updated list of cigar manufacturers, associations, and retailers who have announced their commitment to or withdrawal from the PCA Trade Show.
ACE Prime
Alec Bradley Cigars
Arturo Fuente
Ashton Distributors Inc. (Ashton, La Aroma de Cuba, and San Cristobal)
Cavalier Genève
Cigar Rights of America
J.C. Newman Cigar Co.
La Flor Dominicana
Oveja Negra Brands (Black Label Trading Company, Black Works Studio, Emilio Cigars, Dissident)
Rocky Patel Premium Cigars
Altadis U.S.A
Davidoff of Geneva
Drew Estate
Famous Smoke Shop
General Cigar Co.
Kretek International, Inc. (Tobacco Media Group, Tobacco Magazine, Ventura Cigar Company)
ACE Prime Cigars Offers Limited Edition Cigar to Commemorate the 60th Birthday of NBA Legend Dominique Wilkins]]>, 15 Jan 2020 07:42:02 +0000
January 13, 2020 - Basketball legend and a cigar connoisseur, Dominique Wilkins released his special
M.X.S. Signature Series cigar in 2019. The cigar has been a slam dunk with fans, retailers and aficionados alike, and has received wonderful reviews.
“Dominique Wilkins is a great friend, who’s career and reputation for Excellence and Success is unparalleled. He is genuinely one of the greatest NBA athletes of all-time, and we have thoroughly enjoyed the partnership in developing his M.X.S. Signature Series cigar” said ACE PRIME co-founder Luciano Meirelles.
To celebrate Dominique Wilkins’s 60th Birthday (Jan 12), ACE PRIME is releasing a collectors edition limited release box – Dominique Wilkins individually signs the DIAMOND EDITION, COMMEMORATIVE BOX. It features a beautiful 3D printed image of the NBA superstar in flight and contains the reserved, super-aged first batch of the M.X.S.Dominique Wilkins cigars.
Only 60 boxes of the M.X.S. Dominique Wilkins – Diamond Edition box will be released and available exclusively at:
Davidoff Tampa (FL),The Clayton – Chicago (IL),Corona Cigars & Diamond Crown Lounge (FL),Casa de Montecristo – Lake Mary (FL),Stanley’s Cigar Bar (MO),Club Macanudo (N.Y.)Soho Cigar Bar (N.Y.)
We are thrilled by the success of ACE PRIME, and we know this has a lot to do with the great reviews and media support. In 6 months, your support has allowed us to established a great cigar brand and captured the imagination of cigar fans and experts.
We’re passionate about creating the finest cigars for everybody to enjoy, and in 2020 we will be bringing our cigars to more communities across the country.
The ACE PRIME family of cigars also includes M.X.S. (featuring a Special Signature Series with NBA superstars, Dominique Wilkins, and Tiago Splitter), Luciano (The Traveler), and Pichardo Cigars. ACE PRIME will also be releasing a new blend, M.X.S. Signature Series cigar, with the big-hitting baseball legend, Adrián González, in 2020.
ACE PRIME invites you to discover your cigar at WWW.ACEPRIME.COM
Oveja Negra Brands Announces Their Participation in Both of the 2020 Trade Shows]]>, 15 Jan 2020 05:57:14 +0000
The news of the cigar manufacturers and premium cigar industry organizations expressing their support or opposition of participation in the upcoming 2020 Premium Cigar Association (PCA) trade show has been dizzying over the past few days. In a press release yesterday, Oveja Negra Brands has announced their participation in the PCA trade show (scheduled July 10-14) as well as the Tobacco Plus Expo (TPE; scheduled January 29-31).
January 14, 2020 - Oveja Negra Brands (ONB) announces its participation in the upcoming TPE Tradeshow and PCA Tradeshow, both held in Las Vegas. ONB consists of Black Label Trading Company, Black Works Studio, Emilio Cigars, and Dissident.
This is the first year Oveja Negra Brands will feature its premium cigar group at TPE in booth #1053. “We look forward to participating in this year’s TPE Tradeshow. We have noticed the effort the organizers have put into bringing the premium cigar category to the forefront of this expo and we look forward to participating,” said Benjamin Holt of Dissident.
Oveja Negra Brands will also have a booth at the 88th Annual PCA Tradeshow scheduled for later this summer. “We will continue to showcase our brands at this historical tradeshow. It is our opportunity to spend quality time with our current retailers and meet prospective retailers. We are looking forward to continued growth in the industry, and PCA helps facilitate that growth. Each year we release a cigar exclusively for PCA attendees as a way of showing our appreciation for the retailers who come to support our brands and the show. The details of the 2020 PCA Release will be announced soon,” said James Brown, Director of Black Label Trading Co. and Fabrica Oveja Negra.
For more information please visit Oveja Negra Brands website featuring each brand, Fabrica Oveja Negra, merchandise and a comprehensive retailer map.
Famous Smoke Shop Withdraws From the 2020 PCA Trade Show]]>, 15 Jan 2020 05:41:19 +0000
Arthur Zaretsky, President/CEO of Pennsylvania's renowned Famous Smoke Shop, has penned an open letter to the premium cigar industry explaining his decision to withdraw from this year's Premium Cigar Association (PCA) trade show. Check out this personal, heartfelt letter that describes a very difficult decision, yet provides a compelling rationale for the withdrawal.
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PREMIUM CIGAR INDUSTRY I want the industry to know why you will not be seeing me or my company at this year’s trade show.
This is not a decision that’s been made lightly or quickly, as I have wrestled with this idea for quite some time. My first trade show goes way back to 1970, when it was held in NYC in the Statler Hilton Hotel on 7th Avenue. For those of you who still remember, the “show” was held in small rooms or suites. The individual deals and negotiating were done in the bedroom – I kid you not. Many of the vendors I once knew are now out of business or dead, so it is with fondness and sadness that I look back to those days prior to the Cigar Boom. As a side note, I sat down at the 1991 show with Marvin Shanken. It was the only time I ever got anything from that man…lunch was on him. The magazine had not yet been published, and he wanted a donation: my mailing list. I won’t go into the details of the negotiation, but he did not get it. I have only spoken to Marvin since that time on two more occasions. Both were equally unpleasant.
I have watched how our industry’s trade show has evolved over the last 50 years. I have paid my dues every year and cannot calculate how much money I have spent going to the shows and supporting the RTDA/IPCPR/PCA. However – not once in those 50 years has anyone from the trade organization ever returned the support or taken time to understand my business, or this segment of the retail market.
Instead, I – and other members of this group – are treated as pariahs by the very same organization we have tirelessly supported. Because according to the PCA, we internet retailers are the enemy. We are the cause of declining sales at B&M’s. Not the fact that a fair share of retailers choose to remain complacent, relying on last century’s technology and the deeper pockets of others to fight their battles for them. No, it’s our fault: catalog and internet-managed companies are destroying the industry, preying on “the little guy.” Oh, if only if we would disappear – then money would rain down like manna.
This logic would be funny, if it weren’t so misinformed. Or dare I say, ignorant. My company has maintained a B&M store for every day we’ve been in business – over 80 years and counting, and well before that terminology even existed. I struggled with excise taxes in New York State back before the Cigar Boom started, and you could still enjoy a cigar on an airline flight. NYC was a tough place and J&R cigars was only 5 blocks away. Yes, we competed – hard.
But I saw way back what was needed to survive. There were only a few of us around: Thompson Cigar (which has since been acquired), JR Cigars (acquired), Holt’s (partially acquired), Mike’s Cigars (private), and Famous Smoke Shop (private). Cigars International was not even an embryo. All of us knew one thing for sure: we needed to make the country our marketplace. In various ways we were all successful in our endeavors. We survived pre-Internet days, then we adapted again to new digital technology. The road was difficult and expensive. New technology requires new personnel and significant investments, and some of us are still in the process of adapting to the new environment.
I, and other members of our small circle, have been very active in support of various efforts to reduce or eliminate cigar taxation and regulation. Not once, in the 50 years that I have been in this business, have I in any way encouraged any entity to increase regulation or taxation on my B&M brethren. Not once have I ever pursued a cause that would hurt any part of this industry which I have loved. I have fought against all forms of tobacco regulation and taxation, whether it affected me or not. I have contributed money and time to the CRA, CAA, and PCA.
But no longer. I cannot continue to support the PCA, an organization so far out of touch with the reality of the current market. I am tired of supporting those who seek to damage my business to increase their own. Recently this all came to light when I learned that the PCA spent time and money to increase taxes on cigars. Yes! Under the banner of a “level playing field”, the PCA lobbied to increase taxes, but only on remote sellers like me. So here you have a hypocritical organization, which is out to hurt and/or destroy a part of the industry. Why? We are not your enemy. Your business will not be better if we disappear. Prices will skyrocket and few will be able to afford $12-$20 cigars.
I want the industry to know why I made this decision. I want my suppliers to know why I will not be visiting with them in Las Vegas for the first time in 50 years: the PCA’s course of action is not acceptable, and encourage my suppliers to contact the Board of the PCA to let them know that. I write this in the hope that other organizations will also decide not to attend the 2020 PCA show. I have often used the “Titanic” metaphor: we are all on the Titanic fighting for higher berths. Yeah, a house divided and all that stuff. I will reward those vendors who support my company, both Internet/Catalog and B&M. The names I mentioned are not the problem – organizations like the PCA are the problem, too busy fighting for higher berths. I had the foresight to leave New York State and move to Pennsylvania, where I have joined with my competitors to battle issues that are more important than my petty dislikes. I wish that were true of the retailer segment. I survived because I was smart and persistent. I will continue to survive and prosper without spending all that time and money attending PCA in 2020.
My decision to quit the show was made before I heard their news, but I applaud the decision of Drew Estate, Altadis, General Cigar, Davidoff and Villiger to withdraw from the show; while they have their own reasons, it’s clear these companies have come to the same conclusion about the PCA that I have. I suggest some of you reading this do the same.
Premium Cigar Association and Additional Cigar Companies Respond to Trade Show Exhibitor Pullouts]]>, 15 Jan 2020 05:14:16 +0000
On January 10, news broke that four of the largest cigar manufacturers–Davidoff, Altadis U.S.A., Drew Estate, and General Cigar Co.–had opted not to exhibit at the 2020 Premium Cigar Association (PCA) trade show and convention this July (see Four of the Largest Cigar Manufacturers Have Pulled Out From the 2020 PCA Trade Show). The PCA trade show, formerly known as the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR), is arguably the largest premium cigar and pipe tobacco trade show and has figured in importantly to many manufacturers’ sales and marketing plans. The PCA 2020 trade show is set to take place at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas, July 10-14. Hours after the aforementioned press release, the PCA itself, manufacturers and some retailers are chiming in on the announcement that some of the show’s largest exhibitors, representing some of the industry’s most iconic brands, would not be exhibiting in 2020.
This release prompted a response from Cigar Rights of America (CRA). CRA, as a coalition of consumers, retail tobacconists and family-owned manufacturers of premium handmade cigars announced its support for the PCA trade show, as well as the legislative and regulatory agenda that has been forged by the two organizations. In a press release, CRA’s executive director Glynn Loope commented:
“CRA has been built by the traditional family-owned companies that manufacture premium handmade cigars, and those same companies will support the 2020 Premium Cigar Association trade show. Now, more than ever, it is important for the industry to gather with its retail partners.”
Cigar Rights of America and the Premium Cigar Association have forged a common agenda for addressing threats posed by government at all levels. “This has resulted in critical stays, delays and reversals in regulations most threatening to the industry. CRA and PCA have expended a combined $4.5 million just on litigation against FDA regulatory oversight not to mention the millions spent on the legislative agenda. This litigation has benefited the entire industry,” Loope added.
Robert Levin, CRA’s board chairman added that the group’s member manufacturers will be working together with the group’s retail partners to strengthen the industry and protect premium cigar companies, and its customers and that this is why CRA will be attending the PCA 2020 trade show.
In response to the exhibitors who pulled out of the trade show, at around 10 p.m. EST on January 10, the PCA released the following statement:
"As you may have heard from today’s press releases, four companies announced they will not exhibit at PCA 2020. We want to assure you that the world’s biggest premium cigar and pipe show is on with over 110,000 square feet of space booked by hundreds of family-owned companies. The four companies not attending represent 12% of show space and, since the announcement, many exhibitors have reached out to PCA to secure booth space, potentially expand their footprint, or relocate to the vacated space.
"The PCA 2020 show will be full, with the family-owned manufacturers who support the brick and mortar retailers and whose products fill our humidors. It is more important than ever that family-owned businesses that built this industry come together. This year, PCA 2020 will have some exciting new features to showcase new products and help retailers and exhibitors create and enhance relationships. We will be rolling out new information in the coming weeks and months on those developments.
"The PCA trade show remains not only the most important business event in the premium cigar and pipe industry, but also our greatest asset in fighting back regulations on both state and federal levels. Your membership and attendance at the PCA trade show directly finances the industry’s legal challenges against the FDA. To date, along with our partners at Cigar Rights of America, we have spent a combined $4.5 million just on litigation against FDA regulatory oversight, not to mention the millions we spend every year on our legislative agenda. These efforts have benefited the entire industry.
"Our biggest priority remains focused on keeping a pathway for new products to come to market. After years of fighting, we are making some incredible new head ways in achieving major regulatory relief for the industry. For any member who would like to get more involved in the PCA and in serving on a committee, please contact PCA Executive Director, Scott Pearce."
PCA may have lost four of its biggest exhibitors in terms of square footage and spend but it has many exhibitors, large and small, who are still committed to the show. Padron, Tatuaje, Alec Bradley Cigars and J.C. Newman Cigar Co. are among some of the trade show’s exhibitors who have in some capacity re-affirmed their commitment to the trade show. On Facebook, Alec Bradley Cigars posted:
“Alec Bradley is in full support of the Premium Cigar Association and will be attending the upcoming show. We are excited to show everyone new products that we will be coming out with this year!”
Another manufacturer who will be in attendance at PCA 2020 is Arturo Fuente. Carlito Fuente, chairman of Fuente Companies, released the following statement:
“As we have for the past 50 years, Arturo Fuente will once again participate in the 2020 PCA Trade Show. Our commitment to retailers is a core value of our company and family, one that will never waiver.
“Since the 1970 RTDA show in New York City, my family has supported the RTDA/IPCPR/PCA and we remain committed to Brick & Mortar tobacconists as the irreplaceable link between cigar manufacturers and consumers. They tirelessly work, day-in and day-out in the retail side of our beautiful industry, and are on the front lines assisting and educating our wonderful consumers. Arturo Fuente will always support Brick and Mortar tobacconists and do right by them.
“We truly believe that members of the PCA are an extension of our family, and the annual trade show is the single most important event in keeping our families strong and successful. We look forward to spending quality time with everyone at the PCA show in Las Vegas.”
Expect to hear from more premium cigar manufacturers in regards to their position of support for the upcoming PCA trade show. As more premium cigar companies pull out from exhibiting at the trade show, there will certainly be implications on the association's ability to operate and fund its legislative and advocacy efforts.
Four of the Largest Cigar Manufacturers Have Pulled Out From the 2020 PCA Trade Show]]>, 10 Jan 2020 22:25:08 +0000
BREAKING NEWS: Four leading premium cigar companies have announced their withdrawal from this year's annual Premium Cigar Association (PCA; formerly known as the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association [IPCPR]) trade show. See the press release from Drew Estate below.
January 9, 2020 - Today, leading premium cigar manufacturers Altadis USA, Davidoff of Geneva USA, Drew Estate, and General Cigar/STG, are announcing that they will not attend the 2020 PCA trade show. This decision, which each of our companies reached unilaterally after careful consideration, reflects our strong belief that structural change in the trade show is in the long-term best interests of the entire premium cigar industry and its customers.
Over recent years, an increasing number of retailers and manufacturers have come to recognize an unfortunate set of facts:
Our most important industry gathering – the PCA trade show – has been in declineAttempts to discuss ways to reverse the downward trends in relevance, attendance, membership, and category growth have been met with silenceThe cost of the event – which continues to rise – has consumed funds that could otherwise be used to defend our industry from regulatory and legislative attacks, which threaten the livelihood of each and every one of us
After six months of repeated outreach to PCA, various efforts to discuss ways to enhance the structure, organization, and value of the show – for the benefit of retailers, manufacturers, distributors, and consumers – were unsuccessful. Absent significant improvements, the trade show will continue its downwards spiral. As “customers” of the trade show, it has become increasingly evident to each of us that we simply cannot continue to support and underwrite an event that is not satisfactorily responding to, or meeting, the needs of our industry.
Looking ahead to 2020, each of us is individually committed to using resources previously devoted to the show and repurpose these funds towards achieving two important goals for our industry. One, to enhance the best-in-class trade programs and product offerings that continue to fuel the success of our retail partners. Two, to continue being at the forefront in the fight to protect the interests of the entire premium cigar industry against the imposition of unreasonable burdens that restrict our industry’s ability to market and sell our products to adult consumers.
We recognize that some may mischaracterize our decision, distort the truth, or misrepresent facts. Let each of us be clear. Our commitment to our industry and to our retail partners has never been stronger. Our sole motivation is to seek pathways that are more valuable for the entire premium cigar industry.
Lastly, we each remain committed to engaging in transparent and honest dialogue with any and all industry partners about how best to reinvigorate our trade show, as well as to preserve and protect the interests of the entire premium cigar industry. The betterment, advancement, and ongoing success of our industry has been – and remains – our only motivation and goal.
Smokeasy Q & A]]>Smokeasy, 10 Jan 2020 14:00:00 +0000
Random questions frequently asked by novice smokers and aspiring cigar connoisseurs
Do you ever dip your cigars in rum or cognac?
For the love of God...NO! That's pure blasphemy!
This is probably one of the questions that are most frequently asked of me. I've heard many speak of memories of their fathers, grandfathers, and uncles who traditionally dipped their cigars in rum, cognac, whisky, scotch, bourbon, brandy, or port. For me, seeing cigar smokers do that is equivalent to dragging one's nails across a chalkboard - it annoys the shit out of me...but I never speak on it unless asked. I believe that all cigar enthusiasts are entitled to enjoy their smokes in their own way. But since I was asked, here's my response...
Those who indulge in the practice of dipping their cigars into their favorite spirit, do so with the belief that the spirit will add flavor and/or moisture to the cigar. This is absolutely untrue and not a good practice as it will ruin the cigar.
From what I understand, many, many years ago, cigars were shipped to retailers in drier condition. In addition, the humidification technology that we have today was not as advanced during that era. Therefore, dipping cigars served to provide some moisture to dry cigars. Today, cigars are stored and aged at the manufacturers, shipped, and stored at retailers in properly humidified environments and conditions.
In terms of imparting flavor, dipping cigars will only make them soggy - the cigar and smoke will never truly taste like the spirit it was dipped in. And if the foot of the cigar has been dipped, it will be unlikely that it would light properly. Cigars are blended with the intention of creating certain natural flavors, so there is no reason to dip them in anything. Should you choose to enjoy flavored cigars, there are may companies who manufacture flavored machine-made cigars, and there are some premium cigar companies who manufacture infused handmade cigars. Most of the manufacturers who create infused premium cigars have their own proprietary process, but they generally use oils, herbs, extracts, and other botanicals that are either sprayed on the leaves during the curing process or the aromas are allowed to be "steeped" into the leaves over a period of time in a "aroma room". The various flavored cigars you may encounter include cherry, peach, vanilla, rum, cognac, brandy, whisky, Kahlua, Amaretto, Irish Creme, mint, or coffee - or any combination of the aforementioned flavors.
Instead of dipping your cigar into any spirit, you will be better off sipping on that spirit while smoking your cigar - the various pairings will result in pleasurable compliments of have fun with that!
Questions? Hit me up via e-mail at, on Twitter (@smokeasyblog), or on my Facebook page (Smokeasy).
New Cigar and Whiskey Lounge Coming to Charlotte]]>, 08 Jan 2020 15:54:14 +0000
According to The Charlotte Observer, whiskey and cigar aficionados will find a new experience this summer in the South End neighborhood of Charlotte, NC at The Vintage Whiskey & Cigar Bar.
The Menagerie Hospitality Group, led by local tech entrepreneur Daniel Weiss, has purchased the former Iron Tribe location at 215 E. Worthington Ave. and is in the design development phase of the project in collaboration with Overcash Demmitt Architects.
The venue will include 3,300 square feet of interior space, a custom-built walk-in cigar humidor and an HVAC air purification system to ensure comfort for guests.
“Our guests can enjoy a craft espresso and cigar duo during work hours and transition into the evening with a beverage from our full bar,” Weiss said. “Through entertaining and educational pairing events, we will unite the spirits and cigar communities over shared interests.”
The upscale cigar lounge will offer a diverse list of hand-selected whiskeys and cigars and offer private, concierge-style membership options. It also will serve a seasonal craft cocktail menu, wines, beers and a full espresso bar. The full humidor will have thousands of mild, medium and full-bodied cigars. The website boasts happy hour (4 PM - 8 PM) craft beer and cigar specials on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and monthly cigar and whiskey pairing events.
Behind-the-scenes process and updates will be posted on Instagram at @thevintageclt. Follow The Vintage Whiskey & Cigar Bar on Facebook.
White House Paving the Way for the FDA to Carve Out Premium Cigars From the Regulations]]>, 06 Jan 2020 23:25:13 +0000
Premium cigar makers could catch a break from the FDA as White House applies pressure*
By May, the FDA must decide whether they will stick to an Obama-era regulation that would force cigar-makers to abide by the same compliance rules as all other tobacco products.If they do, the compliance costs could put nearly 90% of U.S. cigar manufacturers out of business and destroy 5,300 jobs, according to data compiled by Mangum Economic Consulting and provided by Cigar Rights of America.But the FDA last week gave the regulation’s opponents reason to be optimistic.
Under pressure from the White House, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave premium cigar-makers and importers a win last week, indicating it may spare the industry from costly regulation set to go into effect this spring.
The premium cigar industry is facing a May deadline that requires all new tobacco products to obtain regulatory clearance from the FDA. Those that do not will be technically marketed illegally and subject to enforcement. But the mom-and-pop shops that dominate the premium cigar industry have said the required compliance costs would effectively put them out of business. The premium cigar industry, like the wine industry, relies on releasing new varieties to sustain the interests of its connoisseurs.
According to data compiled by Mangum Economic Consulting and provided by Cigar Rights of America, the rules would put 88% of U.S. cigar manufacturers and importers out of business and destroy 5,300 U.S. jobs.
The White House has pushed the FDA to carve out premium cigars from the regulations, two people familiar with the situation told CNBC, requesting anonymity because the conversations are confidential. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney has been a particularly strong opponent of its inclusion in regulation, one of the people said.
Premium handmade cigars are more expensive than the mass-produced cigars sold in convenience stores and are bought less frequently. The cigar industry is strong in Florida, a swing state whose 29 Electoral College votes is tied with New York for third place among states.
The FDA last week offered a small concession. While it did not go so far as to give the industry what it wants — exemption from the regulation — it implied it may turn a blind eye to cracking down on premium cigar companies not in compliance.
“FDA will make enforcement decisions on a case-by-case basis, recognizing that it is unable, as a practical matter, to take enforcement action against every illegally marketed tobacco product, and that it needs to make the best use of Agency resources,” the agency wrote.
Its “lowest priority among these products will include relatively expensive, large hand-rolled cigars that do not have flavors (e.g., fruit, candy, or mint), given what FDA understands to be their comparatively lower youth usage rates.”
The news was cautiously welcomed by the premium cigar industry.
“We appreciate the recognition of being on the lower end of risk,” said J. Glynn Loope, executive director of Cigar Rights of America. “But we’d like to not be subject to this regulation at all.”
To officially exempt premium cigars from the regulation, the FDA would need to put out a policy saying it will offer extended enforcement discretion to the industry.
Spokespeople for the White House and Mulvaney did not return requests for comment. A spokeswoman for the FDA said the agency is “unable to comment on an internal, deliberative process.”
The FDA made the pronouncement as it outlined its priorities for regulating all tobacco products edging up against the May deadline. The regulations in question stem from a 2016 decision by the FDA under then-President Barack Obama that subjected all tobacco products — including e-cigarettes, hookah tobacco, pipe tobacco and smokeless tobacco — to FDA rules.
Given the FDA’s scant resources, its focus will be on cracking down on products like flavored e-cigarette cartridges that teens prefer, it said last week. It will proceed with previously announced plans to regulate flavored cigars.
In 2017, 7.7% of high school students and 1.5% of middle school students reported smoking a cigar within the previous 30 days, according to the FDA. By contrast, nearly 28% of high school students reported using an e-cigarette in the previous 30 days, according to a report released in September.
The cigar industry has pushed back against regulation. Three of its lobbying groups are suing the FDA, arguing the agency violated the Regulatory Flexibility Act by not taking into account the regulation’s impact on small businesses.
Across the country, 11,140 U.S. tobacco retailers could be impacted by the Obama regulation, according to the Mangum Economic Consulting report, citing 2015 U.S. Census Bureau numbers.
The U.S. has 160 domestic cigar manufacturing facilities and 216 cigar importers. Companies impacted by the regulation would include the J.C. Newman Cigar Co., the family-owned manufacturer of Nicaraguan, Dominican and American cigars. It would not include Cuban cigars.
*Per news published by Lauren Hirsch, Business and Politics Reporter, today, January 6, 2020.
Publishers' Top Cigars of 2019 - Smokeasy's Standouts]]>Smokeasy®, 05 Jan 2020 16:01:00 +0000
Happy 2020!
Smokeasy has never done a "top cigars" list - I've smoked so many great cigars over the past year, with so many unique flavor profiles, I would be hard-pressed to rank them accordingly. Every year, some of the major print and online cigar publications publish their year-end list of their top cigar rankings, and many brothers/sisters of the leaf use these lists to help guide their cigar choices during the subsequent year. Since I get multiple queries about my recommendations from these specific lists, I have highlighted my standouts from these lists for 2019.
*Cigars appearing on more than one Top Cigars of 2019 list:
Aging Room Quattro Nicaragua Maestro also ranked #16 on Cigar & Spirits magazine's Top 20 of 2019.
†Cigar & Spirits Magazine did not provide a specific vitola for the respective cigar ranked.
Note that Cigar Snob magazine has yet to publish their top cigars of 2019 as of yet; I will provide an update of my standouts upon their release and my review.
UPDATE 1/6/2020: Cigar Snob magazine has just published their Top 25 Cigars of 2019 today (only #16 through #25)! Cigars #6-#15 will be published on Tuesday, 1/7 and #1-#5 on Wednesday 1/8. Once the list is available in its entirety, I'll provide an update of my standouts from their rankings.
UPDATE 1/8/2020: Cigar Snob magazine has published their entire list of the Top 25 Cigars of 2019 - my standouts from that list is now posted above. And I must say...of the 4 major publishers' lists, Cigar Snob's list is fantastic and most definitely the finest of them all, in my most humblest opinion!
We Card Program Provides Resources for Tobacco Retailers to Ensure Adherence to New Federal Age 21 Law]]>, 03 Jan 2020 18:09:44 +0000
All Retailers Need to Comply with New Federal Age 21 to Purchase Law
The We Card organization is making certain retail resources available at no cost to assist retailers in complying with the new federal law that went into effect on December 20, 2019 which raised the legal age to purchase any kind of tobacco product to 21 years of age.
Specifically, the 4 kinds of free resources for retailers are as follows:
Three different age 21 signs to download, print and display in stores.The We Card Age Checker Application.
The Age Calculator for use on mobile phones.
A 10-minute “Training Booster” video course that covers the new age 21 purchase law.
To obtain access to these free We Card retail resources, click on the link:
In addition, retailers can continue to order other products from We Card to assist in properly verifying the legal age of customers. To order other materials, go to the website link above.
All retailers need to comply with the New Federal Age 21 Law (see ICYMI: Federal Tobacco 21 Law Is Now Effective).
In order to comply with the new federal law, retailers in every state need to immediately cease selling any kind of tobacco product (i.e., cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, pipe tobacco, electronic cigarettes, nicotine vapor products, hookah tobacco, etc.) to anyone that is under the age of 21. The National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO) has received reports from member retailers that some competing stores continue to sell tobacco products to 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds. The sale of tobacco products to 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds is a violation of the new federal law and all retailers need to comply by not selling any tobacco product to anyone under the age of 21.
NATO has been in contact with the FDA and asked the agency whether it plans to exercise its enforcement discretion to temporarily delay retail compliance checks to allow retailers the time needed to adequately train employees on the new law, educate customers about the new higher legal age, and reprogram point-of-sale systems to reflect the new age 21 law. While NATO is waiting for a response from the FDA, complying with the new law and enforcing the new law are two different things. That is, retailers are advised to comply with the new law now while the FDA determines how and when the agency will begin retail compliance inspections.
ICYMI: Federal Tobacco 21 Law Is Now Effective]]>, 02 Jan 2020 17:41:55 +0000
Although the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has six months to finalize the federal Tobacco 21 law, the agency announced it is now illegal for retailers to sell any tobacco product to consumers under 21 years old.
On December 20, 2019, President Donald Trump signed legislation increasing the federal legal minimum age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21.
The FDA has posted a message on its website announcing that the new legal age is now in effect:
"On December 20, 2019, the President signed legislation to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and raise the federal minimum age of sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years. It is now illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product – including cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes – to anyone under 21. FDA will provide additional details on this issue as they become available."
STG Acquires Royal Agio Cigars, Makers of Balmoral]]>, 02 Jan 2020 16:49:27 +0000
Scandinavian Tobacco Group completes the acquisition of Royal Agio Cigars
Effective 2 January, 2020, after completion of the statutory works councils consultation process in the Netherlands and clearance from the relevant competition authorities, Scandinavian Tobacco Group has acquired from Highlands Beheer B.V. all the shares of Agio Beheer B.V. (“Royal Agio”), which is the holding company of the Royal Agio Cigars group. Reference is made to the Company’s announcement of 16 September 2019.
Royal Agio is a leading European cigar company with a strong cigar portfolio including key brands such as Mehari´s, Panter and Balmoral. The company is based in Duizel, The Netherlands and has approximately 3,200 full-time employees. Royal Agio’s reported annual net sales full year 2018 were EUR 133 million (DKK 1 billion) with an EBITDA of EUR 18 million. The proforma combined group net sales for 2018 are approximately DKK 7.7 billion with a combined workforce of close to 11,000 employees.
Royal Agio will provide Scandinavian Tobacco Group access to a strong product portfolio and important market positions in key European machine-made cigar markets. The acquisition secures leading positions in France, Belgium and The Netherlands and significantly improves the position in other key cigar markets such as Spain and Italy.
CEO of Scandinavian Tobacco Group, Niels Frederiksen says: “I am very pleased that we have completed the acquisition of Royal Agio, which significantly strengthens our position in several key machine-made cigar markets in Europe and enables us to deliver an even more attractive range of cigars of the highest standards to our consumers. The acquisition leaves Scandinavian Tobacco Group as a bigger, more competitive and more profitable company better suited to pursue growth and create value for our shareholders.”
On a debt and cash free basis (the enterprise value), the transaction is valued at EUR 210 million (DKK 1,565 million). The acquisition has been financed by cash at hand and debt. Scandinavian Tobacco Group´s leverage ratio (net interest-bearing debt/EBITDA before special items) is expected to temporarily exceed the target of 2.5x.
Scandinavian Tobacco Group has undertaken towards the sellers and works councils to conduct an integration planning period of at least 3 months from today, whereupon Scandinavian Tobacco Group expect to provide further financial details on the impact of the transaction. As previously communicated, the transaction is expected to be EPS accretive in 2021.
Scandinavian Tobacco Group’s full-year financial guidance for 2019 is unchanged:
>5% organic growth in EBITDAFree cash flow before acquisitions about DKK 1 billion
Special items for 2019, including the previously announced transaction costs of DKK 20 million relating to the acquisition of Royal Agio, are still expected to be about DKK 200 million.
The ambition of delivering an annual growth in ordinary dividend payments is unchanged, including for the financial year 2019.
About Royal Agio
Royal Agio is a family-owned business founded in 1904. Royal Agio's products are sold in about 90 countries with the majority of net sales generated in The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
About Scandinavian Tobacco Group Scandinavian Tobacco Group A/S is a world leading manufacturer of cigars and pipe tobacco with annual production of four billion cigars and 5,000 tonnes of pipe and fine-cut tobacco.
Scandinavian Tobacco Group holds market-leading positions in several categories and has a portfolio of more than 200 brands providing a complementary range of established global brands and local champions.
The Group employs almost 11,000 people in the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the US. For more information please visit
Punch Cigars Collaborates With AJ Fernandez for New Release]]>, 14 Jul 2018 05:41:15 +0000
Punch beckons you to the dark side without fear of losing your soul with the release of its newest collection called Diablo.
Punch Diablo marks the first time that a Punch cigar will be made outside of Honduras, where the brand has been made since the 1960s.
Ed Lahmann, senior brand manager for Punch said, “When it came time to select the blend for Diablo, we decided that we wanted to make the fullest-bodied Punch to date. AJ Fernandez is a master when it comes to developing full-bodied cigars, so we asked him to create a blend using aged tobaccos, one that has strength and bold flavor to complement the rest of the cigars under the Punch umbrella. We’re confident that the blend he delivered will be a great new option for classic Punch smokers and that Diablo will give all full-bodied smokers another reason to experience Punch.”
The unofficial brand spokesman, aka the snarky Mr. Punch character, chimed in to say, “With Diablo, we wanted a powerful smoke. So if you’re a pansie or a snowflake or whatever PC term they use these days, this is not a smoke for you.”