Smoking ban in Spain

Smoking ban in Spain

What a difference a day can make. On January 31st, 2010, you could be sitting in a Spanish tapas bar enjoying a nice stogie with some friends. But, do the same thing a few days later, and you will be slapped with a big fine. That’s right – one of the countries with the highest Cuban tobacco consumption per capita in the world has banned smoking.

If you are in Spain, you are no longer allowed to enjoy your fine cigar in any restaurant, bar, or enclosed space that is open to the public. Plan on ignoring the law and lighting up anyways? Expect to pay around $40 for a first offence, all the way up to $100,000 for repeat offences. The owners of the establishment you light up in will also be on the hook for big monetary fines.

While the Spanish government reports that smoking kills over 50,000 people per year, they seem to have acted in a rash manner. Have they really thought about the consequences to the rich Spanish social life and the tradition of having a drink and a cigar with friends? The venues that now prohibit smoking are a very large part of the Spanish economy, and if people are not allowed to enjoy a smoke there, they might no longer show up. How can that be good for a country that is struggling financially?

What repercussions will the smoking ban in Spain have on their hospitality industry, their entertainment industry and the overall state of tobacco consumption countrywide? Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure – a lot of cigar smokers are unhappy about it.

Cigar Release: La Aurora Broadway for NY

La Aurora Broadway for NY

Another blend to be released only for New York tobacconists. I like the initiative of crafting a cigar keeping the outrageous tax in mind.

MIAMI FL – Miami Cigar & Company, the exclusive US distributor for La Aurora, announces help is on the way for New York. Tobacconists are suffering under harsh tobacco tax of 75% of wholesale cost which prices many cigars out of the average smoker’s reach. La Aurora vice president Guillermo León says it is time for action to help smokers. As a result, León and Miami Cigar and Company President Nestor Miranda are releasing a special Broadway Series by La Aurora with a suggested retail price of $12.25 including the onerous NY state tobacco tax.

León says, “New York has always been special to me and my family. What has happened with the cigar taxes in New York is tragic. Since we cannot lower the taxes, we worked hard to lower the cost of this cigar without compromising quality.” Adds Miranda, “we are beginning to try to help tobacconists with the Broadway series by La Aurora just in time for Christmas.”

On Monday, December 20th, Cigar Inn on Second Avenue in New York City will host Guillermo León, Nestor Miranda and Miami Cigar VP Rene Castaneda with a private dinner to launch the Broadway series. The initial cigar is a Sumo Toro, measuring 5 ¾ X 54. Its blend uses a double wrapper of Ecuadorian Sumatran and Nicaraguan over Dominican Corojo binder and fillers from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Peru. The Broadway Series will only be available at tobacconists in New York state.

Cigar Release: Alec Bradley New York

Cigar Release: Alec Bradley New York

Update: here is our review of the Alec Bradley New York.

DANIA, FL – November 23, 2010: You could say that the entire staff at Alec Bradley Cigars is in a New York state of mind as they prepare for the New York State pre-release of the new Alec Bradley New York cigar. Friday, December 10, 2010. Handcrafted in five shapes, the cigars are rolled in an exquisite Honduran Habana seed wrapper grown in Trojes, Honduras. Alec Bradley New York will be available only for New York state tobacconists: All sales outside the state will have to be placed through a New York tobacconist listed on the Alec Bradley website. Production is underway for the general release in the first quarter of 2011.

"Both of my parents are from New York. They had a wholesale candy and tobacco business there for years," said Rubin. "They worked hard, as my grandparents did before them. I felt that kind of history deserved making a line honoring the state that gave my family and millions of others a chance to make it in the US."

The Alec Bradley New York is presented in boxes of 20 cigars in the following shapes:
Six Two (Robusto) 52 x 5 ¼
Empire (Toro) 54 x 6
Liberty (Churchill) 50 x 7
Gotham (Torpedo) 54 x 6 1/8
Declaration (Gran Toro) 58 x 6

"We're really excited to see the reaction from the media and the bloggers," added Mr. Rubin.

He should be. The company just earned its second 94 "outstanding" score for the Alec Bradley Family Blend T11. All things being equal, the Alec Bradley New York cigar will fetch high expectations, but with a grin, Mr. Rubin offers a more practical and much more familiar observation: "If these cigars can make it here, they can make it anywhere."

Tim Ozgener leaves CAO

Tim Ozgener leaves CAO

It is a common fact in the cigar world that behind every successful cigar brand is a devoted, passionate and enthusiastic person, committed to obtaining only the finest tobacco blends. As such, one might wonder what will happen with the CAO line of cigars, now that Tim Ozgener, who worked with CAO for 16 years, has left the company. A very important man in the company, Ozgener has been the president of CAO since 2006, and the person usually associated with CAO cigars throughout the years. With Tim Ozgener now gone, no other members of the Ozgener family, who founded CAO International, remain onboard.

The reason for such decision comes as a side effect of the merger between two tobacco companies, Swedish Match and Scandinavian Tobacco. Seeing as how CAO belongs to the Scandinavian Tobacco Group, the merger resulted in CAO’s headquarters to be relocated to Richmond, Virginia. The move did not appeal to Ozgener, who decided to remain in Nashville, Tennessee. His words about this were "I'm pretty well established in Nashville. My family is here, my wife's family—I'm not willing to uproot my family. Nashville has been a great city for karma, for me and my family." Prior to the merger, CAO has been located in Nashville since 1968, when it has been founded.

Tim Ozgener’s decision stirred reactions from high-profile persons in the cigar industry. The chairman of CAO International, Gary Hyams, commends Ozgener for his dedication to the company, while the president of General Cigar, Dan Carr, acknowledges Ozgener’s innovative approach to cigar packaging and flavors, and his contributions to the CAO brand and to cigar making in general.

Ozgener considers CAO Brazilia as one of his greatest accomplishments, which was unique and innovative at the time of its release, having a Brazilian wrapper and coming in a green box packaging.

As for what the future has in store for him, Ozgener said re-entering the cigar industry is not out of the question, but for the time being, he considers focusing his attention on a Nashville bar he co-owns, The Patterson House.

Monte’s first annual “Little Big Smoke”

Monte's first annual

If there is one thing that we cigar lovers like, it is to be properly treated. Apparently, Albuquerque-based cigar club owner, Larry Monte Jr., realized just that, and, in order to show his respect and gratitude for his customers, hosted a major event for cigar smokers.

Monte’s 1st Annual Little Big Smoke, hosted on the 25th September, at his Pueblo Pipe Shop and Club La Gloria Cubana cigar club at 3636 San Mateo NE in Albuquerque, offered cigar smokers what they long for: cigars, obviously, and delicious food – in particular, delightful slices of juicy steak and spicy, gravy –covered meatballs.

Almost 300 people attended the event. Even though the ticket was priced at $100, you will soon see that it was well worth it. First of all, 21 cigar makers with 36 different brands and deep discounts planted a booth at the event. In the long tent set up in the shop’s parking lot, you could go from table to table and end up with a plastic gift bag chock-full of over $150 worth of cigars, as well as cigar cutters from the manufacturers’ representatives.

Already sounds good, doesn’t it? Add in the food – steak, meatballs and all sorts of veggies, chips and salsa – and a cigar lover’s dream starts to take shape. In order to add more value to the event, Monte’s employees also raffled off lighters, ashtrays, caps and t-shirts every 5 minutes.

Here is what Monte has to say about the intent of this event: “We talked about the economy and the downturns and really pitched the idea that in these tough times – any time – businesses have to be aggressive,” Monte says.

Apparently, it worked very well, considering manufacturers showed up from Miami, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and other locales. If, after reading this, you are regretting you have not heard of this event in time, you’re in luck – Monte plans on doing it again next year.

“If you go out and create opportunities, people will respond,” Monte noted.

Unite against Outdoor Smoke Ban in NYC

Unite against Outdoor Smoke Ban in NYC

Greetings to all cigar aficionados. My name is Ray and I will be bringing you news from the cigar industry as well as occasional reviews. Enjoy.

Recent news revealed that New York politicians are considering banning smoking in most of the outdoors area of the city. As a response, the premium cigar industry rallied and, with the Cigars Rights of America, International Premium Cigars & Pipe Retailers Association and the New York Tobacconist Association as official supporters, encourages you, as cigar lover, to sign petitions against the extension of New York’s smoking ban.

Michael Bloomberg, one of United States’ most high-profile critics of smoking and the mayor of New York, proposed banning smoking in the outdoors of the city, specifically in all of New York’s 1700 public parks and along the 14 miles of city beaches.

Even if you are not a New Yorker and this law will not directly affect you, put yourself in the feet of a cigar lover in the Big Apple. Imagine yourself strolling through Central Park, maybe sitting on a bench, with a fine cigar in your pocket. You would like to indulge in this fine cigar while basking in the afternoon sun, enjoying a quiet, peaceful time. However, this dreamy relaxation will be impossible, should the banning law pass in New York City.

As a gesture of solidarity with your fellow smokers, you can sign the petition created by the New York Tobacconist Association, which opposes the extension of the ban and suggests that decisions of this nature should be up to the individual.

Chris McCalla, the legislative director of the IPCPR, stated, "In public places like these, common courtesy should prevail, not heavy-handed, misguided legislation."

Litto Gomez ad in Cigar Aficionado

Litto Gomez ad in Cigar Aficionado

Hello everyone, I hope you are having a great week-end. As for me, I am about to go out and get myself a couple of new Trinidad Limited Editions 2010; hopefully I'll put a review together this week. Not much info for today, just wanted to show you (in case you haven't seen it yet) an ad that Litto Gomez of La Flor Dominicana ran in Cigar Aficionado. I think that his personal opinion (click on the pic to open a full-sized version) is similar to yours. I know that it sure is to mine. Enjoy your week-end!

M&A update: Scandinavian Tobacco Group

Scandinavian Tobacco Group

According to the press-release posted on their website, Scandinavian Tobacco Group just became the second largest cigar company in the world, after merging with Swedish Match. The new company keeps the name Scandinavian Tobacco Group and will be producing over 2.5 billion cigars every year. CAO is the most well-known brand among the ones in the company's portfolio.

“After months of preparations we are very pleased now to be able to start the integration of the two businesses. The new Scandinavian Tobacco Group is a truly global company and we have an excellent basis in the combined brand portfolio to grow even further and increase profitability,” says Anders Colding Friis, CEO of the former STG and CEO of the new Scandinavian Tobacco Group which is headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark.

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