Note: we didn't want these new packs to be freely visible on the site. If you really want to see what they look like, click on the picture below (not for the faint-hearted).
Recent “health” legislation passed in Australia will harm small cigar retailers but is unlikely to actually curb cigar smoking or protect the health of cigar smokers. The new laws — similar to those being considered by the FDA in the US right now — will require that all tobacco products sold in the country be packaged drably without style or flair and include large, clear health warnings on their labels. This will include cigars as well as cigarettes — even though cigar smoking is a completely different industry.
The Australian government believes (as the FDA in America does) that this will prevent youthful smokers from purchasing cigars, and that it will reduce the amount of smoking which takes place in Australia. This is a fallacy for more reason than one. For starters, the average cigar smoker is male, age 35 and older. Youthful smokers usually turn to cigarettes and not cigars. The other reason that applying the legislation to cigars won’t reduce smoking is that cigar smokers don’t smoke the same way and for the same reasons as cigarette smokers.
Smokers of premium cigars are connoisseurs—they don’t smoke out of habit, they smoke instead to enjoy a hand-made product which has been artfully crafted for a unique experience (the packaging is part of this experience). Premium cigars aren’t cheap, and they are enjoyed slowly at a leisurely pace. While the Australian legislation may curb cigarette smoking (or not), it is unlikely to curb cigar smoking, since cigar smokers will simply turn to online retailers for their cigars. One Brisbane cigar retailer, Rob Ayala (owner of Cigar Czar), took a poll of his customers and found out that 58% of them would simply buy their cigars online instead of from him. Only 1.3% said they’d cut back on smoking. "No one who purchases premium cigars at $15-$50 ($300-$1,250 a box), will purchase plain-packaged, plain-banded cigars when they have so many options internationally," said Ayala.
"We must challenge perceptions that cigars are in any way more glamorous, or a less harmful alternative, to cigarettes," said Health Minister Tanya Plibersek.
There is no scientific evidence to suggest that cigars aren’t as unhealthy as cigarettes in the most basic sense (at least I can't find any - got a reference?), but the differing habits of cigar smokers typically are less unhealthy, starting with the fact that cigar smoke is not meant to be inhaled. Here is scientific evidence - thanks Cameron! Furthermore, cigar smokers don’t burn through packs of cigars each day. Many treat themselves to just one nice premium cigar every few days, or even just once a week. Cigars cost a lot more, and are meant to be enjoyed in the moment—not burned through rapidly and mindlessly. The new legislation ignores this fact and is punishing premium cigar smokers and retailers without regard to these facts — and all that will do is harm small businesses in Australia and cut into the rights of the consumer.