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On ‘Kick Butts’ Day, focus placed on alternate tobacco products

Higher prices may succeed where peer pressure, public service announcements and medical research fail to thwart youth tobacco use, according to state officials who are looking to raise the cost of smoking, or chewing or dipping.

“We know that these products get your attention, young people’s attention, because the price is so affordable,” said Interim Commissioner of Public Health Dr. Lauren Smith, holding up 69-cent single-wrapped cigars in the flavors of grape, white grape and blueberry, while speaking to a group of student activists who are mobilized against tobacco.

After the event, she told reporters, “Price is one of the most important ways of decreasing youth use as well as use by adults, but especially young people because they’re so price-sensitive.”

Legislation filed in the House and Senate would increase the cigarette tax by $1, raising it to $3.51 per pack, a policy that Gov. Deval Patrick is attempting to enact. Lawmakers are also seeking to broaden the definition of smokeless tobacco and increasing the taxes on those products as well.

“Obviously we’re opposed to that tobacco tax increase,” said David Sutton, a spokesman for Altria, the parent company of tobacco manufacturer Phillip Morris. Sutton told the News Service the proposed tax increase could have “unintended consequences” of driving sales to New Hampshire, or creating an opening for organized crime selling black market cigarettes.

Sutton dismissed the argument that raising the price of cigarettes would discourage youths from smoking by saying that youths are already prohibited from buying cigarettes and that Massachusetts retailers have a high rate of complying with the age restriction. He said because of the falling sales of cigarettes states tend to overstate the value of a cigarette-tax, and said the tax would be borne by adult smokers.

“They’re already very heavily taxed,” Sutton said. The increase would mean state and federal taxes account for 62 percent of the price of a pack of cigarettes, Sutton said. He said, “It gets to this question of tax equity.”

In 2008, the Legislature raised the cigarette tax to $2.51 per pack but “forgot” about raising taxes on other types of tobacco, Rep. Jonathan Hecht (D-Watertown) told the crowd at Great Hall. Hecht said that created a loophole, and said, “They drove a truck right through that loophole.”

“We forgot that there were other parts of tobacco products,” said Sen. Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester). She said, “It was inadvertent, and for some reason we didn’t get it through last year.”

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2013 in Tobacco News

 

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Cigar Info

There are fewer basic sizes in the world of cigars. The size of a cigar is defined by diameter (ring gauge) and length (in inches). Ring gauge is the diameter measured in 64ths of an inch, so a cigar with a ring gauge of 48 is 48/64ths (or 3/4ths) of an inch.

Burning Cigar
A pile of cigars

The basic sizes are:

Cigarillo Cigars (3″ X 20 ring gauge)
Panatela Cigars (6″ X 36)
Corona Cigars (5 1/2″ X 42)
Lonsdale Cigars (6 3/4 X 42)
Robusto Cigars (5″ X 50)
Toro Cigars (6 x 50)
Double Corona Cigars (7 1/2″ X 50)
Churchill Cigars(7″X 48)

Cigars and Their Regions

Cigars sold in the United States are manufactured in many countries throughout the world including Jamaica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico, Brazil, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, the Dominican Republic, the Canary Islands, the Philippines and the United States. Each of these countries produce cigars which vary from each other in flavor, strength, aroma, and price. Seed from the same tobacco plant put into the ground in various countries will yield very different results because of differing climate conditions, soil, water, even perhaps the air itself. As a matter of fact, cigars produced in a particular country may contain tobaccos grown in a completely different country.

– Dominican Republic Cigars made in the Dominican Republic are presently the most popular choice among US consumers. Their flavor is subtle, sweet, nut-like and usually milder than most other countries.

– Honduran cigars are more robust in flavor with a more full-bodied strength. To the uninitiated, they may be overpowering.

– Jamaica cigars are gentle, mild and more mild than even Dominicans. A good cigar for early afternoon or even early morning.

– Nicaraguan cigars are just coming back into their own after the burning of the tobacco plantations during the Sandanista years. They tend to be slightly less robust than Hondurans and possess a sweet nutty flavor.

– Mexican cigars are thought to be on a tier below super premium cigars because of a general lack of refinement. However, there are several excellent Mexican brands.

– Cigars made in Europe are unlike those described above in that they are machine-made using short filler tobaccos and are generally not humidified. They are also smaller in size. The taste of these cigars is quite different because they use tobacco not only from the Americas (Brazil) but also from Africa and Indonesia. These tobaccos blend to produce a spicy flavor in a mild cigar.

Paul Garmirian’s The Gourmet Guide to Cigars Describes Cigars in this Fashion:

“A cigar consists of three components: the filler, the binder, and the wrapper. The filler, which is the inner core of the cigar is what constitutes the body and shape of the cigar and constitutes its greatest mass. The binder is the leaf that binds the filler. It is somewhat coarser than the wrapper. The wrapper which is the outer covering of the cigar must be strong, yet elastic and silky. The elasticity of the wrapper gives the ability to the leaf when moisturized to stretch without breaking.”

Rick Hacker in The Ultimate Cigar Book points out that there are three different ways a cigar may be made:

Handmade Cigars – The entire cigar is bunched, rolled and trimmed by individual hand labor. It can be one person working alone on a single cigar, or the work can be divided between a buncher and a roller working on the same cigar. The main criterion is that the entire cigar is completely made by hand from start to finish.

Machine Bunched/Handrolled Cigars– The filler is bunched by machine and then the filler/binder combination is turned over to a cigar roller, who puts the wrapper on by hand. This technique is often simply referred to as machine bunched.

Machine-made Cigars – The filler, binder and wrapper are completely assembled by machine.”

The best way to decide what you will like is to become familiar with various sizes and types of cigars. Then you’ll be able to determine what cigar is best for your own special smoking scenarios.

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2012 in Tobacco News

 

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International Sales of Cuban Cigars Up 9 Percent

International sales of luxurious Cuban cigars climbed 9 percent in 2011 with revenues of $401 million following an upturn in the market, executives of Habanos S.A. said Monday.

On the opening day of Cuba’s 14th Cigar Festival, organizers stressed how important these results are amid the economic woes afflicting their main European markets and the spread of restrictions on smoking.

Habanos Cigars
Habanos Cuban cigars

Habanos S.A., founded in 1994, is a mixed company with equal participation by state-owned Cubatabaco and the Spanish corporation Altadis, a subsidiary of the Imperial Tobacco Group PLC.

The company’s Vice President for Development Javier Terres and Marketing Director Ana Lopez told a press conference that the corporation has held onto its 80-percent share of the international market for hand-rolled cigars.

Habanos currently purveys such exclusive brands as Cohiba, Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, Partagas, Hoyo de Monterrey, H. Upmann and Punch to 150 countries.

Its leading markets are Spain, France, China, Germany, Switzerland, Lebanon, Cuba, Greece and the United Arab Emirates.

Some 53 percent of sales are in western Europe, followed by the Americas with 15 percent and the Asia-Pacific region representing 13 percent.

Habanos executives said that in seeking to maintain sales, the company is trying to adapt to the new circumstances, so that smokers can “identify” where to find a quality Cuban cigar and shorter cigars are being designed for places where smoking is restricted.

Terres said that China is Asia’s most promising market with double the sales it had three years ago.

As for knock-offs of its star products such as Cohiba, Lopez said the company is trying “to limit to the maximum” illicit activities by means of “systematic tracking,” which in 2010 allowed it to detect more than 10,000 fakes under Cuban brand names.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2012 in Tobacco News

 

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The evolution of the Cuban cigar

Havana’s sprawling Palacio de Convenciones normally plays host to Communist Party congresses. This week it has been converted into an exclusive emporium.

Cohiba
Three Cohiba cigars

The walls are draped in huge adverts for Cuba’s most luxurious export: hand-rolled Habanos cigars. Milling around the gleaming display stands below are hundreds of visitors to the island’s annual international cigar festival.

This year’s event commemorates 520 years since Christopher Columbus first discovered tobacco here and introduced it to Europe.

Western Europe is still the key market for the cigars Cuba later learned to fashion from its leaves. But the economic crisis there and the spread of anti-smoking laws are creating changes.

International appeal

Distributor Habanos opened the festival by announcing a 9% increase in sales in 2011.

The firm says emerging markets like China are now making up for others in decline.

“When you talk about luxury products, that upturn is driven now by China. It’s booming,” says Habanos Development Vice-President Javier Terres.

Sales to China, including Hong Kong and Macau, rose by 39% last year, even as sales to Habanos’ biggest buyer, Spain, plunged 20%.

“The Chinese are quite heavy smokers and much more interested in luxury products. The best-seller there is the Cohiba, our most expensive cigar,” Javier Terres explains.

So among the international crowds touring Cuba’s tobacco fields and its factories this week are Chinese traders, cigar-tourists and aficionados. There is also a busload of Russians.

“There’s no smoking ban in Russia. You can still smoke in bars, clubs and restaurants there,” points out Riad Bou Karam, who runs the Casa de Habanos outlet in Moscow, where he says sales are strong.

Unlike the initial post-Soviet years when expensive but vulgar was the vogue, Russians say they are now seeking out quality first and foremost.

For that, Cuban cigars have long been hailed as the best you can get.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2012 in Tobacco Articles

 

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