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Commentary: Random Thoughts from the Humidor (XXX)

10 Jul 2019

In our thirtieth “Random Thoughts from the Humidor” article, we look at protecting cigars, “CigarCon,” and how to upgrade your Negroni:

Marco Rubio: Congress Must Act to Save America’s Cigar Industry

A must-read op-ed from Florida Senator Marco Rubio:

I support current laws which prohibit minors from smoking, but tobacco is a legal product and it’s wrong for Beltway bureaucrats to snuff out small manufacturers and retailers of premium cigars. Any person who has seen machine-made cigarillos, or fat cigarettes, behind the cash register at their neighborhood gas station knows these products are vastly different than a hand-rolled premium cigar. And yet, unlike premium cigar makers, the large corporations that mass produce cigarillos have the financial means to comply with the FDA regulations so they will continue to be sold in mass quantities.

This overregulation is also unnecessary as it is already illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18. Even the FDA’s own research proves that underage tobacco users are not smoking premium cigars. Premium cigar smokers account for just 0.7 percent of all adult tobacco users and the median age of a person’s first regular use is 24.5 years old.

So what can we do to stop this overreach?

That was the subject of a Small Business Committee field hearing I held in Ybor City this April. We heard directly from the premium cigar industry and the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, which makes sure federal regulations do not unnecessarily hurt small businesses. The Office of Advocacy wrote to the FDA expressing concern about the rule’s economic impact on the premium cigar industry, but the FDA ignored these concerns.

If the FDA fails to recognize that the practical effect of its rule will put America’s premium cigar industry out of business, Congress must act to save this iconic industry. That’s why I introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2019, which would exempt the premium cigar industry from the FDA’s misguided rule.

Read the rest.

CigarCon Is On

At the Premium Cigar Association (PCA) Trade Show last week (formerly known as the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association, or IPCPR) the widely anticipated CigarCon was formally announced. The event will, for the first time, officially open the convention to the average cigar consumer.

The move is being billed as a way to raise more money to fund the lobbying that PCA and CRA do to protect premium cigars from government regulations: “Rocky Patel was brought on stage to sell the event and explained that the legal bills as part of FDA regulations for ‘this year’ have totaled $3.6 million, a burden largely shouldered by the IPCPR and a group of manufacturers that are part of Cigar Rights America (CRA).”

Needless to say it raises a ton of questions, including: How much money can the event really raise for PCA? Will manufacturers be expected to provide cigars to attendees? Will attendees be willing to pay big bucks if they don’t get free samples from manufacturers? Do large retailers (and others like Cigar Aficionado, which puts on the Big Smoke event each year) see this event as competition for their own multi-cigarmaker events?

A Negroni Upgrade

One of my go-to cocktails for years (and one of the few I make with any regularity at home) is the Negroni. The drink warrants its own New York Times trend piece, so apparently I’m not alone. The classic Negroni is equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. What I’ve especially come to appreciate recently, however, is how those ingredients can be tweaked slightly with outstanding results.

Vermouth matters (my preference is Dolin, especially for the price, though you can never go wrong with Carpano Antica). You can also substitute Campari for another bitter (Luxardo Bitter Bianco and Aperol are each outstanding in completely different ways). Finally, don’t get locked into gin as the base liquor. I’m a big fan of swapping it our for rum, in what has been called the “Kingston Negroni.” Currently, my favorite Negroni is funky Smith and Cross Jamaican rum, Luxardo Bitter Bianco, and Dolin vermouth. But I’m always experimenting.

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

 

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