14 Apr 2010
April may seem far too late to be publishing a 2010 wish list. But I tend to think of the industry on a fiscal year, each one beginning with that summer’s International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) Trade Show. It’s a convenient approach because that annual event is where most new cigars debut.
Whether you consider this article four months early or four months late isn’t all that important. What is important is that I have five cigar-related wishes for 2010—and I want to share them with you. From the highly improbable to the entirely possible, here they are in no particular order:
1. Less is More
With a few rare exceptions, each year every cigar manufacturer feels compelled to come out something new. It has become nearly impossible to keep up with all the new offerings. This can lead to over-extension, inconsistency, consumer confusion, and, as my colleague writes, “lots of just plain duds.” I’d respect any company that shows up to this summer’s IPCPR Trade Show saying, “We don’t have anything new, we’re just focusing on our comparative advantage and maintaining the highest quality control.” That would be nice.
2. Join CRA
Restrictive smoking bans and outrageous tobacco taxes are out of control. With Cigar Rights of America (CRA), everyday stogie enthusiasts finally have a voice. But that voice will only grow in effectiveness and influence if more brothers of the leaf join up. I hope 2010 brings CRA great recruiting success, bolstered by the nonprofit’s discount program and members-only samplers.
3. Quality Over Quantity or Strength
The growing trend towards large cigars and full-bodied powerhouses is somewhat frustrating. Sure, I’ll enjoy a 60 ring gauge cigar or a ligero-filled pepper bomb every once in awhile, but I’m starting to fear the rise of a “bigger and bolder equals better” mindset and how that might impact the market. This year, let’s not forget how fantastic a truly magnificent mild cigar can be.
4. More Attention for Boutiques
Small-batch cigar makers are not to be ignored, especially since many are turning out some of today’s best blends. Regular StogieGuys.com readers will be familiar with the likes of Tesa, Cuban Crafters, Bucanero, and others. There are countless more just waiting to be discovered. So, in 2010, make a commitment to step outside your name-brand comfort zone and uncover a hidden gem.
5. End the Cuban Embargo
When JFK signed the embargo in 1962 (immediately after hypocritically securing himself a stash of soon-to-be criminalized sticks), it was thought that such restrictions would cripple Castro’s regime. That obviously didn’t work. Since then, the U.S. has continued to trade with other communist countries like China and Vietnam, only to see them take marginal steps towards freer enterprise. So it’s time to finally repeal this obsolete law, liberalize trade and travel with Cuba, ease the suffering of the Cuban people who have endured so much under Castro’s tyranny, and make Cuban cigars legal in the U.S.
photo credit: Flickr