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Stogie Commentary: Saving a Few Bucks

9 Mar 2009

What with rising cigar prices, rising cigar taxes and rising economic anxiety, most of us are looking for ways to save money. With that in mind, here are a few tips and thoughts you may not have considered, and at least one I’m sure you have.

5 cent cigar1. If you are the sort of occasional smoker who chooses a good cigar when you have the time and place to enjoy it, it can be difficult to save money without sacrificing some pleasure. (Unless, of course, you’re routinely toasting $20-$30 cigars, in which case you probably don‘t need my advice.) I think your best bet is to try to identify what it is you like most about your current sticks and see if there is a lower-priced line that’s close. Some of the smaller brands, such as Oliva, Alec Bradley, Camacho, and Toraño, have good, cheaper offerings.

2. For those who smoke regularly, take a good look at when and how you’re smoking. Do you barely notice a stick or two a day smoked while working? Or on the golf course? Or during a poker game? If this is the case, you could look at lower-priced sticks for those occasions. My advice on where to find them is different from what you frequently hear. I recommend the cheaper lines made by giants Altadis or General rather than searching out no-name bundles. The reasons? Consistency, quality, and availability. If you can find one you like, you can be pretty sure that the next one will taste like the previous one. And the likelihood of plugs, split wrappers, or bad rolls is smaller. Finally, it’s easy to find a couple of singles to try before you commit.

3. Similarly, don’t overlook the house brands at your local B&Ms. Again, the advantage is that you can smoke a couple before committing to a box or bundle. Many house brands are moderate- to low-priced and often they’re good (or even great) smokes.

4. This one’s been said a thousand times, but it bears repeating—and remembering. Don’t go nuts on cigar auction sites. If you engage, set limits and stick to them.

In the end, don’t forget what cigar smoking is all about: individual pleasure and enjoyment. Only you can decide how much that’s worth.

George E

photo credit: Flickr

6 Responses to “Stogie Commentary: Saving a Few Bucks”

  1. Franky C Monday, March 9, 2009 at 8:29 am #

    Great tips george.

    Should we also be stocking up before schip hits?

  2. George E. Monday, March 9, 2009 at 9:40 am #

    I guess that depends on your circumstances. I expect the new tax will add 40 to 80 cents to each single price, since the tax will be added in before cigars reach retailers. If you smoke several sticks a day, that will add up. If you're an occasional smoker, it won't be as noticeable. One other possiblity to consider — and here I stress I'm only speculating — is the likelihood of a shakeout throughout the industry as a result of higher prices, higher taxes and the lousy economy. That would probably lead to closeouts and sales later this year.

  3. dmjones Monday, March 9, 2009 at 11:49 am #

    If the economy keeps sucking (which is the likely reaction to the current administration's "stimulus" and other spending packages), you could be very correct in that some companies that are more-or-less on the edge could end up going out of business. I'm not an insider so I wouldn't know what names those companies have, but every industry has them (Colibri comes to mind, as does General Motors, for some reason).

    I would be sad to see any cigar makers go out of business because I believe that competition is good for the consumer, but if/when it happens, I would like to be in a position to score some closeout deals.

  4. Lou Tuesday, March 10, 2009 at 5:15 am #

    Thanks for sharing, George.

    There's one thing I thought I should mention, though. Rumor has it that companies like Altadis and General actually PUSHED for premium handmade cigars to be included in the SCHIP legislation. Because their machine made/small cigar business dwarfs their handmade cigar business, this rumor certainly has the ring of truth.

    Besides that, I've found that many General products are the very definition of inconsistency. While they may taste ok, the draw can be akin to sucking the proverbial golf ball through a garden hose.

    For my part, I'll continue supporting the smaller boutique-type brands, who seem to have MUCH better QC, for their diminutive size.

  5. George E. Tuesday, March 10, 2009 at 5:36 am #

    Patrick S. reported on those allegations in January, along with Altadis' rebutal (… To be honest, I can't understand why they wouldn't have spent their time and money fighting the small-cigar tax increase, since it is huge: from about 4 cents a pack to about $1.00. The small cigar market has been one of the growth areas in a fairly static tobacco market, and I imagine this will likely kill that, as it will growth in the RYO segment.

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