FDA Increases Restrictions on Tobacco, May Exempt Cigars

FDA Logo

On Thursday, April 24th, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that they intend to heighten the restrictions on tobacco products in the US. The FDA has had oversight of the tobacco industry since 2009. Under the new rules, the FDA would become more involved in tobacco product manufacturing and distribution than ever before, and will impose harsher restrictions than in the past. The FDA has however stated that premium cigars may be exempted from some of these harsh measures.

Nothing has been decided for sure at this juncture, but the FDA has proposed an option which could “exclude from the scope of this proposed rule certain cigars that we refer to as ‘premium cigars.’” For the next 75 days, the public is invited to comment on the proposed exception. Now is the time to reach out to the government and let them know why premium cigars are special and deserve special status.

The majority of cigars which sold in the US are mass-market cigars, made by machine and not by hand. These cigars may range in size from cigarette-sized to full-sized, and are generally made of lower-quality tobacco. As they account for the majority of cigars in the USA at this point in time, it is easy to see why the FDA would want to regulate them. That being said, premium cigars are quite different, and are rolled by hand, and made out of higher-quality tobacco. Whereas mass-market cigars, like cigarettes, are made for mass-market consumption, premium cigars are designed for the aficionado.

Speaking about the FDA’s proposal to exempt premium cigars from their restrictions, J. Glynn Loope, executive director of Cigar Rights of America, stated, “It appears that two years’ worth of education work has paid off to a degree because it does seem that (the FDA is) recognizing the difference between premium cigars and e-cigarettes and mass market products.” Cigar Rights of America is a lobbyist group which is comprised of cigar manufacturers as well as cigar enthusiasts and customers.

Eric Newman, president of Tampa’s J.C. Newman Cigar Co., recognized the huge role played by the Cigar Rights of America lobby when he stated, “Where I was pleasantly surprised was the reference to the FDA taking a special look at premium cigars. I think that’s a real credit to the people involved with the CRA.”

Loope emphasized that the 75-day period is a critical one, and that it is absolutely vital for cigar smokers, sellers, and manufacturers to take this opportunity to speak up and explain to the FDA why it is important to support cigar smokers’ rights. Anyone can speak up for the premium cigar world, so if you enjoy your premium cigars and wish to have unfettered access to them in the future, now is the time to implore the FDA to support the option for premium cigars.

La Sirena Cigars Acquires Old School Cigars

La Sirena acquires Old School

The newly independent La Sirena Cigars announced today the acquisition of New York based cigar brand, Old School Cigars. The acquisition was a strategic move for La Sirena to increase their portfolio and gain immediate market share. Old School Cigars is best known for its 3 Lines: Stixx, Jaxx and Jaxx LT.

“La Sirena’s acquisition of Old School Cigars represents a natural fit. Both companies are New York based premium cigar brands featuring unique blends and a high level of cigar expertise,” said Arielle Ditkowich, President and Founder of La Sirena Cigars. “It just made sense to me, as we [La Sirena] continue to grow quickly. I was looking to blend a mild cigar and, during my research, I came across the sweet Connecticut wrapper on the Jaxx LT.”

Beginning immediately, the distribution of Old School Cigars will be handled by the La Sirena Sales team. All orders may be placed through the La Sirena Cigars website, by telephone or email, or by contacting La Sirena regional sales managers. La Sirena Cigars will continue to produce the La Sirena Original and Merlion by La Sirena blends.

“La Sirena continues to gain momentum since our independence in January. Arielle realized we needed to produce a mild, yet full flavored cigar to even out our portfolio. We liked the Jaxx LT so much, we made an offer to buy the company,” said Max Mogil, Vice President of National Sales & Marketing. “This is just the first of many exciting announcements for La Sirena. In addition to the Stixx, Jaxx and Jaxx LT, we’re looking forward to the 2014 IPCPR where we will debut our third line under the La Sirena brand.”

Old School Jaxx and Stixx

Daniel Ditkowich and the Holman Family founded Old School Cigars 7 years ago producing a number of blends over the life span of the company. La Sirena will continue to produce the “Jaxx” made by Tavicusa S.A. in Nicaragua, the “Jaxx LT” made by Plasencia in Honduras and the “Stixx” made by the Quesada Family in the Dominican Republic.

The acquisition will be effective as of April 25th, 2014. As part of the transition, existing Old School stock will be sold with original Old School labels with future production to be labeled “Jaxx by La Sirena”, “Jaxx LT by La Sirena” and “Stixx by La Sirena”.

Cigar Release: Room 101 Daruma Gold

Room 101 Daruma Gold

From the recent press release (Room 101 Daruma Gold will be available starting April 30th):

Evolution is the process that separates those in motion from those who are standing still. As we at Room101 grow, we evolve in every way fathomable. Within this box you will find the evolution of the Daruma. The modifications you will experience in this particular blend are the by-product of our evolution and growth working within the premium tobacco craft.

This life has been nothing short of an adventure and we are proud to offer you tastes of this adventure encapsulated within these smoke-able vessels. With humility, we present to you an evolved taste of one of our finest cigars to date. We hope you dig it.

Cigar Stats: Room 101 Daruma Gold

WRAPPER: San Andres (Mexico)
BINDER: Mata Fina (Brazil)
FILLER: Corojo, Criollo & Pelo de Oro (Honduras & Dominican Republic)

Room 101 Daruma Gold Vitolas

Cigar Release: Avo “88” 2014 Limited Edition

AVO 88 Limited Edition 2014

The AVO Limited Edition 2014 celebrates the extraordinary 88th birthday of cigar legend, Avo Uvezian. Avo’s deep fascination with numerology gains full exposure with the number 8. Not only does 88 represent the hallmark anniversary Avo Uvezian is celebrating but also the number of keys on a grand piano. Thus, the piano keyboard is the “key” inspiration for Avo’s 2014 Limited Edition - “AVO 88”.

Avo Uvezian’s pursuit to compose the perfect blend for his 88th birthday cigar began several years ago. The goal was to compose a cigar that encapsulated an exciting and perfect balance of flavors and strength that is the foundation of every great musical composition. When Avo explained the objective to Master Blenders, Henke Kelner and Eladio Diaz, they were determined to successfully achieve Avo’s challenge. The ideal tobaccos were selected, the beautiful Belicoso format was chosen, and years of passionately fine-tuning the blend followed. Finally, the dedication to perfection from this legendary trio of cigar composers resulted in a Dominican Puro cigar that will be celebrated by connoisseurs throughout the ages.

AVO 88 Limited Edition 2014

The AVO 88 blend is brought to life in an exquisite 6” x 52 Belicoso format, comprised of five different Dominican filler tobaccos and a limited Dominican binder leaf, concealed within a flawless Dominican Yamasa wrapper leaf. The marriage of these select tobaccos provides the remarkable experience that Avo once dreamed about. As each key on a grand piano delivers a perfect note when played, the AVO 88 cigar delivers flawless notes of flavor when enjoyed.

“The AVO 88 is the culmination of AVO Limited Editions, a true masterpiece that will be celebrated by AVO fans for years to come,” explains Scott Kolesaire, AVO Brand Manager. “For years Avo has been expressing his excitement towards the 88 cigar and is thrilled to finally share it with connoisseurs around the world.”

AVO 88 will be celebrated to its fullest potential. Consisting of a global release of 8,888 individually numbered, black piano lacquered boxes, of which 888 boxes will be personally autographed by Avo Uvezian. To further complement this marvellous product, 1,888 limited edition AVO 88 Ashtrays will be made available, as well as 488 miniature grand pianos for retail product display and merchandising.

Avo 88 2014 Limited Edition

The AVO 88 will be launched in the USA on March 20, 2014. In Europe, the launch can vary from country to country, beginning mid-May 2014. Avo Uvezian will introduce his new cigar in person during his annual AVO Anniversary Tour beginning March 20th. Avo will appear at two locations this year to celebrate his 88th birthday and his newest, most prized release, AVO 88.

Avo 88 Stats

Length: 6“
Diameter: 52 RG
Format: Belicoso
Wrapper: Yamasá (DR)
Binder: Olor/Criollo (DR)
Filler: Piloto Viso (DR), Pilito Ligero (DR), San Vicente Ligero (DR), Corojo/Olor (DR), Crillo (DR)
Price: $16.00 (Single cigar) | $256.00 (Lacquered box of 16 cigars)

Cigar Release: Room 101 Master Collection Two

Room 101 Master Collection Two

Not sure that the guys at Room 101 were smoking cigars when they came up with this teaser :)

This second installment of The Room101 Master Collection Series comes to you live and direct from the Ministry of Cheddar.

Paper Chase Incorporated is proud to offer you a product which is the direct result of five years of ball busting work, sacrifice and investment of the monetary, spiritual and psychological nature encapsulated in this piece of handcrafted art that you are about to ingest by fire.

While you enjoy this product in a calm moment, know that you are indulging in the most physical representation of the American Dream. A young team of creative and industrious minds have taken a stand to make something of themselves.

We live our lives the way most people dare not, to then live the rest of our lives the way most people cannot. Something to ponder while you burn through this fine premium cigar. Of course – if you think you have the stones, you could always join us for the ride.

Cigar Stats

Room 101 Master Collection Two

Wrapper: Criollo
Binder: Honduras
Filler: Nicaragua, Honduras

CVS Discontinuing All Tobacco Sales

CVS Discontinuing All Tobacco Sales

CVS has just announced that they will no longer be selling tobacco products in their stores. The news hit on Wednesday, when the company released a statement saying they would no longer be selling cigarettes, cigars, or other tobacco products. This is quite a startling decision in light of the fact that the pharmaceutical giant pulls in around $2 billion a year from tobacco related sales.

The majority of that money comes from cigarette sales, as opposed to cigar sales. CVS is really not a prime destination for cigar purchases for the simple reason that they do not have humidors on their premises. Some premium cigars which do not require humidors for storage could be sold in CVS stores however, as could machine-made brands. CVS sold a variety of cigar brands, including Dutch Masters, Macanudo, and Backwoods.

While CVS’s decision may inconvenience some cigar smokers, it will cause a much greater inconvenience for cigarette smokers. Premium cigar aficionados generally are better served shopping at local tobacconists with proper humidors to begin with. We can hope that this decision will actually be good for small businesses, since more casual cigar buyers who may no longer shop at CVS may turn to smaller companies for their needs. This may even lead them to discover the joys of premium hand-rolled cigars, which would be good not only for local stores, but for the premium cigar industry overall.

Cigar Release: Nirvana Cameroon Selection

Nirvana Cameroon Selection

Royal Gold Cigars has partnered with renowned cigar manufacturer Drew Estate for their latest premium, hand-rolled cigar release, Nirvana Cameroon Selection. The new cigar features a luscious, light-brown, Rosado wrapper grown in the Eastern province of Cameroon, Africa.

The wrapper is grown by small farmers who, when it’s time to cure the tobacco, clear an area of land and construct a rustic curing barn. This completely natural process translates into a leaf almost devoid of disease and also produces some of the best tasting Cameroon leaf in the world. The origin of the Cameroon seed varietal is Sumatra Indonesia, which has been grown in Africa for over 60 years.

The balance of the blend consists of fillers from Nicaragua, specifically Jalapa and Estelí, along with a portion from the Jamastran region of Honduras. The binder is San Andreas tobacco from Mexico.

When reached for comment, Drew Estate co-founder Marvin Samel responded from their Miami office stating that, "the beauty behind the Nirvana blend is the combination of Cameroon wrapper and Nicaraguan filler leaves. Cameroon leaf is from Africa and is known for its sweetness and a natural sweet spice taste. Blending the strength, body, and richness of the Nicaraguan tobacco with the Cameroon allows a nuanced & layered depth to really come through. This is not an old fashioned mild Cammy. Quite the contrary."

Co-founder and company namesake Jonathan Drew stated, "Nirvana is extremely important to Drew Estate Tobacco Company for a variety of reasons. First, Nirvana will join our product lineup as one of only two brands that we produce for strategic partners. Second, our relationship with Alex Goldman is akin to that of a brother. When he hurts, we hurt. When he succeeds, our hearts are filled with pride. The brand Nirvana is a long-term relationship that begins with the Cammy Selection. Testing and experimenting with different blends, different algorithms of leaf and concept is the beauty of creation. We have a lifetime to learn together. Nirvana will be that common space and bond between DE and Royal Gold. We will deliver something beautiful that proves itself over time. We are in no rush."

Nirvana Cameroon Selection

The new Nirvana line is offered in five sizes, including a 6x46 Corona Gorda, 5x52 Robusto, 6x52 Toro, 6x54 Torpedo, and finally a 4x44 size called the “Silencio”. The line will be available exclusively through Royal Gold Cigars distribution network. The first shipment of NIRVANA will be shipped in unique, limited edition, wooden display boxes featuring beautiful silk screen graphics.

Royal Gold Cigars president Alex Goldman stated that, “When I started Royal Gold at the beginning of 2013, my vision was to work with the best blenders and factories in the world to create our brands. Of course, Drew Estate was right at the top of the list. The talent and creativity of the Drew Estate team, combined with all the resources that Royal Gold, its parent company, and my own history in the cigar business, allowed us to create a truly special blend. The limited nature of the Cameroon wrapper will not allow us to produce all the cigars that we feel the market will demand, but you can be sure that neither Drew Estate nor Royal Gold will trade quality for quantity – we will keep the production limited to ensure the best possible product is delivered to our consumers. Both the Royal Gold and Drew Estate names and logos appear on the packaging, and as such we will always stand behind the quality of this product. This is just the first brand of what I hope will be a long term collaboration between Royal Gold Cigars and Drew Estate”.

Jay-Z Launches Comador, a “Super Premium” Cigar

Jay Z Smoking a Cigar

Jay-Z is best known for his hip hop hits, but he’s also known for his love of cigars. Jay-Z has graced the cover of Cigar Aficionado, and has actually brought his own cigar roller along with him on his musical tour with Justin Timberlake so that he could enjoy a backstage “gentleman’s club” with friends and associates. While the big news in the music world this week focuses on Jay-Z’s nine Grammy award nominations, in the cigar world we’re excited about the singer’s announcement that he is launching his very own “super premium” cigar dubbed Comador in partnership with Cohiba/General Cigar (General Cigar owns the license to use the Cohiba brand outside of Cuba).

This isn’t a cigar you’ll be able to casually stroll into your local tobacconist and pick up for a few bucks. “Super premium” describes not only the “rare, proprietary” tobaccos the cigars will contain, but also their price tag. Seven Comador cigars will cost about $210, which comes out to about $30 per cigar. A full set of 14 will cost almost $1,000 if you order them in the limited edition box set. So while this will be a luxury cigar, it isn’t priced so far out of the market as to be unaffordable to the average person. Thirty bucks is luxurious, but hardly inaccessible for a unique smoking experience.

Discussing the partnership with Cohiba, Jay-Z said, “I worked with Cohiba because I knew they’d take my vision of a luxury cigar and bring it to life in the right way.” Jay-Z sat down with Cohiba brand leaders and talked about the cigars he enjoys and the notes that he likes best. From there, the team worked to combine different tobaccos until they had something that Jay-Z really loved and was happy to associate his name with. “He knows what he likes when he sees it,” explained General Cigar President Dan Carr.

What is the Comador like? The tobacco leaves have been hand-selected from Central America and the Caribbean. The Havana seed Connecticut-grown wrapper is said to be crafted from rare tobacco leaves “prized for (their) exquisite flavor and deep, lustrous appearance.” The Comador was designed to offer a smooth, mild smoking experience with a slow, even burn, perfect for veteran smokers and newbies alike. If the Comador is successful, it could be the beginning of a bright future for Jay-Z and General Cigar. “We’re viewing this as a long-term partnership,” said Dan Carr.

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