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Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 398

5 Sep 2014

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post a mixed bag of quick cigar news and other items of interest. Below is our latest Friday Sampler.

Nebraska Supreme Court1) Nebraska’s highest court has ruled that smoking in cigar bars and tobacco shops is unconstitutional. The Nebraska Clean Indoor Air Act renders it “unlawful for any person to smoke in a place of employment or a public place,” but exemptions were granted to tobacco retail outlets and the state’s 11 cigar bars. However, according to the Lincoln Journal Star, “Judge Kenneth Stephan, writing for the majority, said there is no substantial difference in circumstances between cigar bars and other public places or workplaces that justifies treating them differently.” Cigar bar owners have reportedly met in Omaha to discuss their response, which is likely to entail allowing patrons to smoke until their licenses expire on October 31, and asking lawmakers to address the issue in the next legislative session.

2) In partnership with the Tobacconist of Greenwich—a cigar shop in Connecticut that’s lacking in lounge space—Davidoff has opened its fifth upscale lounge in the U.S. “The store is a landmark in Greenwich. This [lounge] is an additional location,” Michael Cafagno, co-owner of the Tobacconist of Greenwich, told the Greenwich Time. “Of the 229 stores, we’re the largest Davidoff retailer in the U.S. We have a very good relationship with them. The majority of products will be Davidoff, but we’ll be selling the other high-end brands.” Annual lounge memberships cost $3,000, and single-day passes are also available for $50. Greenwich is an affluent suburb of New York.

3) Inside the Industry: Antillian Cigars, manufacturer of Sosa, announced that it will be the exclusive U.S. distributor for Arandoza Cigars, Headlines Cigars, and Doña Nieves Cigars. Meanwhile, Davidoff is beginning an “aggressive” expansion of Camacho to Canada.

4) Deal of the Week: Using these coupon codes you can score some good deals from site sponsor Cigar Place. Our favorites include 20% off Undercrown and Oliva. You can also use the promo to score 5% off the limited Tatuaje Reserva Noella.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Nebraska Judicial Branch

Happy Labor Day from the Stogie Guys

1 Sep 2014

Today presents a perfect opportunity to kick back, relax, and enjoy a fine cigar or two. We here at StogieGuys.com are taking our own advice, interrupting our daily coverage of cigar news, reviews, commentary, and tips to do what we do best—savor the pleasure that is premium tobacco. After all, you wouldn’t want us to be hypocritical, would you?

So happy Labor Day. We’ll resume our musings on the world of cigars tomorrow.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: N/A

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 397

29 Aug 2014

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post a mixed bag of quick cigar news and other items of interest. Below is our latest Friday Sampler.

Tienda Exclusiva1) This week Drew Estate announced “Tienda Exclusiva by Willy Herrera,” a “concept cigar” made in “extremely small batches” at La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate. Each Tienda Exclusiva (Spanish for “store exclusive”) will be crafted for one particular retailer, and there will only be a few releases each year. The first retailer to win this distinction is Barrister Cigars in Union, New Jersey. The cigars will sell for $12 apiece at Barrister starting on September 2. “I recommend you don’t sleep on this one,” said Jonathan Drew. “These are one and done. Willy has a lot on his plate right now as Master Blender of La Gran Fabrica Drew Estate. As I’ve said before, ‘boutique is in the heart’ and Willy has spent so much time creating and experimenting with blends. We have some real gems out of the blends he has worked on. Now it’s time to get them into production.” If you can’t make it to Barrister, you can enter to win the first box of this Tienda Exclusiva release here.

2) Camacho, which is owned by Davidoff, is now available in the Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec provinces of Canada. “Our success with the re-launch of Camacho now spans across six countries and two continents,” said Dylan Austin, director of marketing for Davidoff. “Even though Canada is one of the more restrictive markets for premium cigars, we have big plans for this new territory…”

3) Contest: StogieGuys.com readers who register at CigarsFor.Me this week will once again be registered to win a free five-pack of cigars. CigarsFor.me specializes in recommending customers the perfect premium cigars without having to go through endless hours of research. Users simply fill out their quick Palate Profile and instantly they’re shown cigars that they’ll love. It’s fun, easy, and this week you can win free smokes. Click here. Congrats to last week’s winner: Jacob McCraw.

4) Inside the Industry: Drew Estate has begun shipping the Undercrown Flying Pig to U.S. retailers. Also starting to arrive in select shops is the Laranja Reserva from Espinosa Cigars, which features a Brazilian Laranja wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos.

5) Deal of the Week: This five-cigar sampler sports a nice variety of fine cigars. Just $26 gets you one each of the CAO Gold Churchill, Oliva Connecticut Torpedo, Nat Sherman Timeless 660, Four Kicks Robusto Extra, and Gran Vida Maduro Robusto.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Drew Estate

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 396

22 Aug 2014

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post a mixed bag of quick cigar news and other items of interest. Below is our latest Friday Sampler.

Oregon Beach1) Officials in Oregon are aiming to criminalize cigar smoking on all 362 miles of the state’s Pacific coast beaches. The move follows the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Commission outlawing smoking in state parks earlier this year. “The proposed rules banning smoking have generated a significant amount of controversy from those who say banning smoking on the coast is unenforceable, an overreaction, and represents a slippery slope in terms of rule-making,” reports the Statesman Journal. “If the rule passed, the only place visitors could light up is in their cars, in campsites, or in designated rest areas. Fines for breaking the rule could reach $60 and $110.”

2) Next month, Arturo Fuente will be shipping a new size of its famed Añejo line. Called “Reserva,” the figurado vitola will measure 6.6 inches long with a ring gauge of 44. The head will have a narrowed stub to enable concentration of the smoke. Añejo sports the same binder and filler tobaccos as OpusX, but it includes a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper.

3) Contest: StogieGuys.com readers who register at CigarsFor.Me this week will once again be registered to win a free five-pack of cigars. CigarsFor.me specializes in recommending customers the perfect premium cigars without having to go through endless hours of research. Users simply fill out their quick Palate Profile and instantly they’re shown cigars that they’ll love. It’s fun, easy, and this week you can win free smokes. Click here. Congrats to last week’s winner: Brad Willoughby of Yuba City, CA.

4) Inside the Industry: Davidoff is adding a new Diadema size to it’s Davidoff Nicaragua line. The figuardo (6.5 x 50) features a Habano-seed Nicaragua Rosado wrapper aged ten years, a Habano Jalapa binder, and filler from Estelí, Condega, and Ometepe.

5) Deal of the Week: Like Drew Estate? Check this out: Buy select boxes from Drew Estate and Joya de Nicaragua lines and get a Drew Estate hat and an Undercrown Toro six-pack for free. Retail value on the extras is $62.70.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 395

15 Aug 2014

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post a mixed bag of quick cigar news and other items of interest. Below is our latest Friday Sampler.

Capitol Building1) One week ago, the public comment period was closed on the FDA’s attempt to effectively regulate new handamde cigars out of existence. Before that deadline passed, though, eight U.S. senators—Bill Nelson (D-FL), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), David Vitter (R-LA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and Joe Manchin (D-WV)—wrote their own letter to the FDA, urging the agency to exempt premium cigars, and to eliminate the retail price requirement for that exemption. “A premium cigar should be defined as any roll of tobacco that is wrapped in 100% leaf tobacco, bunched with 100% tobacco filler, contains no filter, tip, or non-tobacco mouthpiece, and weighs at least 6 pounds per 1,000 count,” they said. “It also must either have a 100% leaf tobacco binder and be hand-rolled, or have a homogenized tobacco leaf binder and be made in the United States using human hands to lay the 100% leaf tobacco wrapper onto only one machine that bunches, wraps, and caps each individual cigar.” While there is no deadline for the FDA to act, some expect the FDA to issue its regulations next summer, with legal challenges sure to follow.

2) Officials in Charlotte have proposed the criminalization of smoking cigars in parks, greenways, and golf courses, in addition to a separate ordinance that would ban smoking on the grounds of government buildings. A public hearing has been scheduled for September 2, with a vote expected on September 17.

3) Contest: StogieGuys.com readers who register at CigarsFor.Me this week will once again be registered to win a free five-pack of cigars. CigarsFor.me specializes in recommending customers the perfect premium cigars without having to go through endless hours of research. Users simply fill out their quick Palate Profile and instantly they’re shown cigars that they’ll love. It’s fun, easy, and this week you can win free smokes. Click here. Congrats to last week’s winner: Jay Dolas from West Henrietta, NY.

4) Inside the Industry: A.J. Fernandez released an online mini-documentary. Despite its gratuitous and slightly stereotypical use of images of Fernandez walking (and riding a horse) through his fields to Buena Vista Social Club music, the 12-minute video does a good job of capturing the process of making cigars and providing some insights into A.J. Fernandez’s background. Watch the whole thing here.

5) Deal of the Week: Looking to try what Sindicato Cigars has to offer? This sampler is way to do it. Just $40 ($4 per cigar) gets you two each of all four Sindicato lines: Hex, Casa Bella, Affinity, and Sindicato.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Flickr

Stogie Guys Friday Sampler No. 394

8 Aug 2014

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post a mixed bag of quick cigar news and other items of interest. Below is our latest Friday Sampler.

Gran Habano1) Gran Habano this week issued a press release claiming the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has taken issue with the company’s name. The government says “the brand name ‘Gran Habano’ is misleading the public to think we are selling cigars from Cuba. We all in the cigar industry know that this is not true… All retail locations know that Gran Habano products are not manufactured in Cuba and are grown in Honduras and Nicaragua, as all labels on Gran Habano cigars state.” Gran Habano is asking retailers and customers to send in their comments to help the company dispute this claim. If you would like to help, please email us, and we’ll provide you with the Word document form that declares you understand Gran Habano is not a Cuban cigar company.

2) There is no tomorrow to oppose to the FDA’s attempt to effectively regulate new handamde cigars out of existence. Leave your comment here. (Need help figuring out what to say? See our tip here.)

3) Contest: StogieGuys.com readers who register at CigarsFor.Me this week will once again be registered to win a free five-pack of cigars. CigarsFor.me specializes in recommending customers the perfect premium cigars without having to go through endless hours of research. Users simply fill out their quick Palate Profile and instantly they’re shown cigars that they’ll love. It’s fun, easy, and this week you can win free smokes. Click here. Congrats to last week’s winner: Aaron Brough from Atascadero, CA.

4) Inside the Industry: The Macanudo Estate Reserve is returning to its Jamaican roots. Only 1,800 boxes per size will be released starting this September in three sizes (Robusto, Belicoso, and Churchill), each in 10-count boxes that will retail for $160-180. The blend uses a Connecticut shade-grown wrapper, Mexican binder, and filler from Jamaica.

5) Deal of the Week: This sampler deal features five top-notch cigars for just $26. For over 40% off retail price you get one each of the Room 101 Master Mutante, Fausto Avion 2011, Padilla Connecticut Double Toro, La Gloria Cubana Retro Club, and Schizo Robusto.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Gran Habano

Commentary: Our Comment to the FDA on Regulating Cigars

7 Aug 2014

FDA-cigars-large

The deadline for submitting comments on the FDA’s proposed cigar regulations is Friday, August 8 (tomorrow). If you haven’t yet registered your opinion to help protect handmade cigars, please do so. (See our tip for what to tell the FDA here.)

As you might expect, here at StogieGuys.com we’re registering our comment, and we wanted to share with you what we told the FDA:

We strongly oppose the FDA extending its jurisdiction as proposed in the Deeming Document, and specifically oppose any attempt by the FDA to regulate handmade cigars. However, if the FDA moves forward with the regulations proposed in the deeming document, it should employ the exemption proposed under Option 2, with the following changes: (1) any reference to cigar pricing ($10 or otherwise) should be eliminated from the definition of cigars exempt under Option 2, and (2) the requirement that cigars not have characterizing flavors should be eliminated.

In support of this position, we submit the following points:

Cigars are fundamentally different from cigarettes and most other types of tobacco.

As the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, respectively, of StogieGuys.com we have been writing about handmade cigars since 2006 and have published thousands of articles and over 750 reviews of handmade cigars. The very nature of our site shows why FDA regulation of handmade, or “premium,” cigars is unwarranted.

A similar site about cigarettes would never exist and could not generate the readership that our site has because cigarettes are a nicotine delivery device, while cigars are a handmade product which exists completely independent of its ability—or more realistically, relative lack of ability—to deliver nicotine. What makes certain cigars good or bad has nothing to do with the nicotine content, and everything to do with the skill that went into making and blending them.

For a person seeking to fulfill their addiction or desire for nicotine, handmade cigars will always be an unappealing and irrational way to attempt to fulfill that desire.  This is particularly true for minors (for whom purchasing tobacco products are already illegal) because they will always have more access to other tobacco products, and will always find that there are easier ways to obtain nicotine through products that are already approved under existing tobacco regulations.

The FDA should not extend authority at all, and certainly not to handmade cigars, because it lacks the ability to do so.

The FDA, like all government agencies, has a limited budget (our national debt is currently increasing at over $2 billion every day), which is why the real question the FDA should be evaluating is not “Should the FDA should regulate cigars?” but “Should the FDA divert resources from its other activities, including existing tobacco regulations, to regulate cigars?” The answer clearly is no.

The FDA has not shown it has the capacity to carry out its existing tobacco regulations. Of the thousands of new products waiting for approval, only a few dozen have been ruled on so far. This demonstrates the FDA does not have the capacity to extend its regulations to handmade cigars. The FDA is specifically not authorized by Congress to ban cigars or other types of tobacco, and given the inability to handle existing pending approvals, expanding jurisdiction to handmade cigars would result in a de facto ban on new cigars because the agency has not demonstrated the ability to approve additional tobacco products at all, let alone in a timely fashion.

Given that Congress mandated that the FDA regulate cigarettes, but left it up to the agency’s discretion whether or not to regulate cigars, the FDA should respect the priorities of Congress and not add cigars to its already overwhelmed regulatory jurisdiction. This is compounded by the number of new cigar products that are introduced every year. While there is no reason to believe that new cigars are at all different in their impact on public health (new products are almost entirely made by changing the blend and ratio of tobaccos used in existing products) every year hundreds or even thousands (if new sizes are each considered a new product) of new cigars are introduced. This would overwhelm existing FDA product approvals and make it more difficult for the agency to fulfill its core mission of regulating cigarettes.

If the FDA erroneously chooses to regulate cigars, it should adopt a premium handmade cigar exemption that doesn’t rely on an arbitrary price, or flavor distinctions.

In the Deeming Document the FDA proposes Option 2, which includes an exemption for premium cigars. This is an important realization of the fact that premium handmade cigars do not pose the same public health concerns that cigarettes do. However, the arbitrary and unscientific $10 price floor should be abandoned.

Simply put, there is no scientific or public health reason for the exemption to rely on a $10 retail price, and the FDA has never demonstrated that one exists. Furthermore, the arbitrary price point doesn’t reflect any reality of the handmade cigar industry. If the FDA insists on a price-based definition of handmade or premium cigars, it should look to Congress to draw the line. To the extent Congress has drawn such a line, it did so in the SCHIP tax rates, which decided to limit taxes to the first 40.26 cents of the wholesale price per cigar. More importantly, any definition that includes production techniques will make it impossible to produce a cigar below a certain price, which sets an organic, as opposed to an arbitrary, price definition.

“Flavored” or infused cigars also represent an arbitrary and unscientific differentiation that should be rejected. No evidence that we know of, or has been presented by the FDA, demonstrates that these cigars pose any additional public health risks.

For these reasons, if the FDA intends to base its regulations on scientific evidence and not on arbitrary standards, it should reject any definition of premium or handmade cigars that includes flavor or a price, while it adopts an exemption for premium handmade cigars.

FDA regulations on premium cigars will cost jobs, both domestically and abroad.

It should also not go unnoticed that aside from the dubious public health justifications for regulating handmade cigars, there are significant human costs to such regulations. Thousands of jobs within the United States would be put at risk if the FDA regulates handmade cigars as proposed, and tens of thousands of individuals in developing countries (particularly the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Honduras) would lose one of their best opportunities for a good job.

The burdens that proposed FDA regulations pose to small businesses—whether cigar shops in this country or cigar factories abroad—would have a huge costs and eliminate countless jobs, especially in places where good jobs are very hard to find. So while regulating cigars would accomplish little if anything in regards to public health here in the United States, it would effectively doom tens of thousands of people to worse lives. Any calculus for public health should not ignore this serious impact.

The FDA should focus on existing regulations, not expanding new regulations to handmade cigars.

Given the existing backload of tobacco products waiting for a ruling from the FDA, it is clear that the agency lacks the resources to regulate cigars. Because diverting limited resources to regulating cigars means less resources for other FDA activities—specifically other tobacco regulations—regulating handmade cigars is not only unnecessary but actually detrimental to the FDA’s public health goals. To the extent there is any doubt on this issue, the FDA should defer any decision on regulating cigars to a later date after it proves capable of fulfilling its existing mandate to regulate cigarettes and other types of tobacco that can have a substantial impact on public health.

As handmade cigar smokers and experts writing about the industry daily since 2006, it is abundantly clear to us that handmade cigars are inherently different from other tobacco products. In proposing an exemption for premium cigars it did just that, but it did so in a clumsy and arbitrary way. If the FDA is serious about fulfilling its Congressionally-authorized mandate, it should not expand its regulations to include handmade cigars. However, if the FDA insists on expanding oversight it should adopt a broad exemption for handmade premium cigars that does not include a characterizing flavor or arbitrary price definition.

Failure to take these suggestions into consideration will make clear to cigar smokers and the premium tobacco industry that the FDA is less interested in public health and more concerned with stifling cigar innovation, eliminating cigar-related jobs, increasing the costs of cigars, and limiting the ability of consenting adults to enjoy premium cigars.

-The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Stogie Guys