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Stogie Commentary: My Top Five Cigar Wishes for 2010

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.

WishWhether 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 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.

Patrick A

photo credit: Flickr

10 Responses to “Stogie Commentary: My Top Five Cigar Wishes for 2010”

  1. Ethan K Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 2:31 am #

    Patrick A. Cheers! You are spot-on w/ these comments. Well done!

  2. Gary Korb Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 3:54 am #

    Excellent wish list. I agree with them all, especially Nos. 1 & 3.

  3. dmjones Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 4:46 am #

    I agree with most of what you've said. Regarding #1, I recall that EO brands has said "no new product" for 2010 and that they will be focusing on quality and marketing…so, you've already got your wish in that respect.

    The other issues you bring up are fine, except for #5. I used to endorse an end to the Cuban embargo, but the more I read about the atrocities that the Castro regime has been responsible for in the last 50 years, the more I think we should hold onto the embargo as long as those murderous thugs are in power. So we do business with China and Vietnam…maybe we shouldn't. That really doesn't change the argument that a Communist regime that has long advocated the overthrow of the U.S. government is less than 100 miles off our coastline. Maybe the real goal should be regime-change in whatever way necessary…I somehow don't think our current administration would endorse that, though, and our last couple Republican admins didn't have the intestinal fortitude to stand against Communist aggression in Central and South America, either.

  4. Marc E Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 7:45 am #

    Spot on…spot on. #1 is my favorite. How many special editions do you need? Soon enough cigar makers will be putting out cigars to celebrate the time they lost their cherry or when they first drove a car. Enough gimmicks. You can only have so many combinations of leaves from one place and leaves from another place…after smoking over 80 different brands I can say with confidence that 25% of them tasted identical.

  5. st Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 9:28 am #

    dmjones – So, wait, you want to, what, invade Cuba? "Regime-change in whatever way necessary?" Come on. That's a soundbite. The embargo is a joke without a blockade, and we ain't ever doing that again. Cuba trades freely with everyone else in the world, and the only people who are really harmed by the embargo are Cubans in the US who can't communicate with long-lost families, and cigar smokers here in the US.

    Yes, Castro was a terrible dictator, and Raul is no prize, but the fact that they "advocate the overthrow of the US government" is not an argument for anything. That's like caring that a six year old doesn't like you. They are not comparable to the real bad guys like al quaeda out there. Yes, I know Cuba provided a safe harbor for hijackers in the 60s and 70s ("take this plane to Cuba!"). You know why? Because of the embargo and the severing of diplomatic relations. The hijackers knew they would not, could not be extradited, so that's where they went.

    Our foreign policy can't be governed by knee-jerk crap like this. We are the grown ups. It's time to end an embargo that does absolutely nothing to hurt its target.

  6. dmjones Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 12:40 pm #

    True, the time to invade would have been back in the 1960s, but since America's foreign policy was in shambles then and continued to be until the 1980s an opportunity was passed by.

    I simply cannot see how it is can be good policy to reward bad behavior and abuses of basic human rights and that's what ending the embargo would be at the point. "Well, it didn't work like we wanted so we'll just ignore the fact that they brutalized people for 50 years and offer billions of dollars and some food."

    We should work toward policies that end communist rule and tyranny (well, for that matter, we need to work toward that end in our own country at the moment…) and toward a free and democratic Cuba. Maybe that involves ending the embargo, but that can't be the first or only step. Probably, it would have to be one of the last steps.

  7. Marc E Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 1:02 pm #

    dmjones, with all due respect I think you're having pie in the sky dreams here. And you severely overestimate the influence of the US. If everyone else on this small planet trades with Cuba except for us, the US embargo has the effect of only hurting cuban americans and cigar smokers. The US deals wth plenty on non communist countries that regualrly kill and jail their citizens without trial. Trust me in the workd of bad guys, Castro was never near the top 25. Worse men have been invited with full honors at the White House. I'm not justifying the abuses of Castro but the world we live in is a brutal one…one in which doing the same thing for 60 years even if it does not work is considered insane.

  8. Sticks Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 3:22 pm #

    I'm with you on all counts. I am getting tired of all of these powerhouse sticks without a rich deep flavor. If I want pepper, I'll suck down the contents of my pepper shaker. Our country has been in communication for well over twenty years with Cuba and came close to ending the embargo with both parties. Cuban wants to normalize relations and the only issues I see are the businesses that were nationalized and how to repay those who lost all of their wealth due to this issue. On a differnt note, I am also tired of all the overpriced so called premium cigars that are bland or harsh junk. Viva la boutique cigar makers.

  9. Luke - AspiringGent Sunday, April 18, 2010 at 11:51 am #

    Great point about the larger cigars. It's amazing how large cigars have really taken over. That said, I have quite enjoyed the fairly recent trend of thick and short, although I know some guys who really hate this trend.

  10. Sal Monella Friday, April 23, 2010 at 2:16 pm #

    I somewhat agree with dmJones above. Although free trade is admirable, improving Castro's economy will only increase their efforts to destabilize Latin America. With the Obama administration doing the same with their actions in Honduras and Ecuador (see Mary Anastasia O'grady in the Wall Street Journal) changing our policy is not in our national interest. If and When we elect a President who is not a Marxist, then the carrot and stick approach should be considered in relation to Cuban trade policy.