Archive | January, 2007

Stogie News: Analysis of Virginia Smoking Ban Legislation

31 Jan 2007

On Friday we mentioned that the Virginia State Senate looked close to passing a state-wide smoking ban. What follows is a closer look at that bill.

Death to Tyrants!The ominously-titled “Virginia Smoke Free Air Act” would repeal the also ominously-titled, but significantly less-restrictive, “Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act.” The Virginia Indoor Clean Air Act only requires restaurants over a certain size to provide a non-smoking section and forbids local governments from passing any ban that is more restrictive.

Currently, the Virginia Smoke Free Air Act has been referred out of the Senate’s Committee on Education and Health. (Curiously these bills never go to a committee on civil liberties or property rights.)

And while the bill purposefully make this clear, it will ban smoking in all bars by defining “bars,” along with almost everything else – including, at times, private clubs – as public places:

“Public place” means any enclosed area to which the public is invited or in which the public is permitted, including but not limited to, banks, bars, educational facilities, healthcare facilities, hotel and motel lobbies, laundromats, public transportation facilities, reception areas, retail food production and marketing establishments, retail services establishments, retail stores, shopping malls, sports arenas, theaters, and waiting rooms. “Public place” shall include a private club when being used for a function to which the general public is invited; however, a private residence is not a “public place” unless being used as a child care, adult day care, or healthcare facility.

In short, with the small exceptions of tobacco shops, tobacco factories, labeled “smoking” hotel rooms, and private residences (with caveats on that listed above), this constitutes a complete statewide ban on smoking. A more cynical person might be thankful that a ban on smoking in multi-unit houses wasn’t included, as is being considered in Belmont, California.

Yet enforcing such a draconian ban isn’t easy, and it would surely be expensive to have police officers go bar to bar checking for cigarette butts. But the anti-smoking zealots have “solved” this by forcing proprietors to enforce the ban. So after telling restaurant and bar proprietors that their establishments are “public places,” the bill then goes on to forcibly enlist them to enforce the law against their own customers:

Any proprietor of any establishment, building, or area that is subject to the smoking restrictions provided in this article who fails to comply with such restrictions shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $200 for the first offense and $500 for any subsequent offense.

Overall, the proposed Virginia smoking ban is just like every other smoking ban: a paternalistic infringement on individual liberty and property rights.

It surely makes a mockery of the motto on the state flag: “Thus Always to Tyrants.”

Patrick S

Tags: cigars

Stogie Reviews: Montecristo Peruvian Especial No. 2 Maduro

30 Jan 2007

monc2.jpgThe Montecristo Peruvian Especial No. 2 Maduro had been in my humidor for about six months. It looked nice, dark, and rugged. Part of the wrapper, a Connecticut broadleaf, was nearly black and gave the stick a partial barber pole appearance. The cap was perfect.

In fact, about the only real problem with this Peruvian was the taste. And even that was nice for about the first inch or so. Woody, sweet, nutty, smooth. A spicy finish, and a pleasing smoke.

And then, well, then there was basically nothing. Nada. Zip. Just smoke. No taste. No aftertaste. No mid-taste. Not so special. I kept smoking mostly out of curiosity: Would it continue this way to the end?

My question was answered with about an inch to go. Nothingness gave way to unpleasant bitterness. Of course, that might simply have been the buildup of tar.

I don’t recall what I paid for the stick, a box-pressed five inches by 40 ring gauge with a cheesy cardboard cover. Whatever it was, it was too much. This cigar was too bland to lump in with some of the truly awful sticks I’ve smoked – Professor Sila, anyone?

Instead, I put this cigar in the category of “Why bother smoking it when you can just as easily sit and breathe.” And that category earns the Montecristo Peruvian Especial No. 2 Maduro the unimpressive rating of just one out of five stogies.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

George E

Tags: cigars

Stogie News: CAO Acquired by Henri Wintermans

29 Jan 2007

CAO International Inc., the Nashville-based stogie manufacturer famous for its Criollo, Brazilia, Italia, and Flavours lines, was acquired by Henri Wintermans Cigars last week.

The Dutch company is affiliated with ST Cigar Group Holdings Inc., which produces over 1.3 billion miniature machine-made stogies each year.

As of last night, neither the CAO website, CAO President Tim Ozgener’s blog, nor the Wintermans Cigars website made any mention of the transaction or the price.

But Mr. Ozgener did tell Cigar Aficionado that CAO is continuing with business as usual and that he will remain president at least until his five-year contract expires.

“Our goal is to be the No. 1 cigar brand in the world, known for quality, distribution, prestige,” he said. “It was in an effort for CAO to become more of a global brand. With this deal, we’ve saved about 20 years.”

According to the article, the deal also seems to make sense for Wintermans Cigars.

Wintermans has very little presence in the United States, and no long-filler cigar assets prior to the acquisition. Of the 1.3 billion cigars it sold in 2006, 1.1 billion were sold in Europe, and only 4 million in the United States. Acquiring CAO nearly quadruples its U.S. business in terms of units – CAO sold about 12 million cigars in 2006, more than 90 percent of them in the United States – and thrusts it into a solid position in the market for premium, handmade cigars.

For now, only time will tell what the acquisition means for CAO fans in America.

Patrick A


Quick Smoke: Padrón Panetela Maduro

28 Jan 2007

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief take on a single cigar.

With unseasonably warm temperatures in the nation’s capital yesterday, I found myself outside (sans coat) with a six and 7/8 inches by 36 ring gauge Padrón Panetela Maduro. Despite its elegant size and unassuming band, I found this cigar to be a full-bodied powerhouse of leather and nut. Even though the burn was less than perfect, I see myself picking up a few more of these in the near future.

Verdict = Buy.

Patrick A


Quick Smoke: Romeo y Julieta Reserve Maduro Robusto

27 Jan 2007

Each Saturday and Sunday we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief take on a single cigar.

I got a Romeo y Julieta Reserve Maduro Robusto in an Altadis sampler promotion several months ago. I’ll purchase more, even though it is a little pricey. The diverse blend combine to create a smooth, complex stick with a satisfying finish.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler XXVIII

26 Jan 2007

In our ongoing effort to make as entertaining and reader-friendly as possible, each Friday we’ll post a sampler of quick cigar news and stogie-related snippets. We call ‘em Friday Samplers. Enjoy.

1) In an ugly occurrence that demonstrates the most awful effect of smoking bans – giving more power to the government – Pittsburgh police last week tasered a man who was smoking in a bus terminal. The 50-year-old no doubt crossed the line when he blew smoke in the officer’s face in protest of the law, but that’s what you get when you turn otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals.

Ditka2) Cigar smokers in the Tampa area will get a chance March 3 to meet manufacturers, sample fine stogies, and help fight cerebral palsy. The Achieve Foundation is putting on the sixth annual Cigar City Celebration at the Cuban Center in Tampa’s famed Ybor City district. A $125 ticket includes cigars, food, drinks, and entertainment. Check Achieve’s website for more information on this worthy event.

3) Lately we’ve been spending more time west of the Potomac river since our cigar smoking opportunities in DC have been greatly limited by Washington’s extensive smoking ban. Sadly, Virginia may not be the refuge we had hoped. The State Senate suddenly seems poised to pass an indoor smoking ban of its own. Why are our delegates in Richmond taking the lead from those anti-freedom morons across the river? We have no idea!

4) When your city’s NFL team makes it to the Super Bowl for the first time in over two decades, it usually means a boon for the local sports bars. Unfortunately in Chicago, the Windy City’s fascist smoking ban has meant that business is bad, even though Da Bears have won their way to Super Bowl XLI. The good news? Some surrounding towns have temporarily repealed their smoking bans. Unfortunately, on March 15 a Cook County-wide ban will make any temporary repeals irrelevant.

The Stogie Guys

Tags: cigars

Stogie Tip: Take Time to Smoke

25 Jan 2007

I know it’s a cliché, but – let’s face it – there just aren’t enough hours in a day. Especially if you’re a cigar enthusiast.

Between work, commutes, showers, errands, friends and family, chores, three square meals, taxes, and all the other responsibilities us grown-ups shoulder, how exactly is a human supposed to set aside an hour (well, more reasonably, and hour and ½) to enjoy a stogie?

I don’t mean to disappoint, but – unfortunately – I really don’t have an easy answer to that question. I can’t be your personal time manager, and I certainly don’t have the blueprints for a make-time-stand-still machine.

What’s worse, with winter setting in and government-imposed, fascist smoking bans looming over many bars, restaurants, and other public places, these days finding a place to smoke is becoming as difficult as finding the time to do it.

But we must do it. We must smoke cigars. I don’t know about you, but if I don’t park my ass in a chair for awhile and devour some delicious tobacco every now and again, I lose it. Not because I’m addicted to the leaf (cigar smokers rarely are), but because I need to unwind.

And what better way to do that than with a stogie? With the exception of fishing, there’s no other hobby that requires its participant to sit patiently still for so long.

Granted you can always smoke and golf, walk, drive, and – heck – some people even run, but I’ve always found that the best way to get the most out of your cigar is to put the rest of the world on hold and just smoke.

Find the time. If need be, grab some booze and/or company, but just do it.

And while you’re at it, remember to smoke slowly. Cigar enjoyment is not a race, and there’s no prize for finishing first.

Besides, in order to “cook” the tobacco at the right temperature (494˚F at the foot), you should only be taking about one puff per minute. You see, when you puff you’re caramelizing the sugars in the tobacco to bring out the flavors. If you puff too often, the temperature will rise, the tobacco will cook too fast, and the smoke may get harsh.

But enough chemistry. Smoking isn’t a chore; it’s what you and I do to have fun and escape from the rest of the world.

Why? Because we deserve it.

Patrick A