Los Angeles – “Both of my parents are from New York. They had a wholesale candy and tobacco business there for years. 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 U.S.”
That’s Alec Bradley Cigar Co. president Alan Rubin on the genesis of his new Alec Bradley New York line that will officially debut on December 10.
The brand design salutes the Art Deco years in New York, with the box art picturing the Empire State Building, for four decades the tallest building in the world when it was completed in 1931. The cigars themselves are offered in five sizes in boxes of 20:
=> Six Two: 5 1/2 inches by 54 ring;
=> Empire: 6 inches by 54 ring;
=> Liberty: 7 inches by 50 ring;
=> Gotham: 6 1/8 inch by 54 ring torpedo, and
=> Declaration: 6 inches by 58 ring.
Made in Honduras, the blend was first seen at a special dinner at Cigar Inn in New York on September 29. It features a Honduran Trojes wrapper and binder with filler leaves from Honduras and Nicaragua for a medium-to-full-bodied presence. Only 1,000 boxes of 20 are scheduled for release in 2010.
A unique feature of this brand will be that it 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. Retail pricing will average $12.75 per cigar, including the recently-increased New York state cigar tax.
>> The days of colorful labels on cigar boxes could be numbered if anti-smoking forces get their way with their latest push for so-called “plain packaging” of cigarettes.
The issue has been swirling in Australia and England for several years, but has now gotten a major boost from the European Union, which has now proposed plain packaging across its membership. According to a report in the trade journal Advertising Age:
“Under the new rules, packs would carry nothing more than a health warning and the name of the brand, both in a standardized format with a specified typeface.
“Since cigarette advertising was outlawed across Europe in 2003, packaging – known as ‘the silent salesman’ – has been the only way for cigarette manufacturers to keep their brands in the spotlight.
“Opponents of the move have until Dec. 15 to make their case heard, with a decision expected in February. Even if the EU decides in favor of plain packaging, it could take another five years before the law comes into effect — especially if the tobacco companies carry out their threat to make a legal challenge against the ruling.”
The cigarette companies are, of course, strongly opposed to this measure. Anne Edwards of Philip Morris International told AdAge:”To date every country that has considered plain packaging has rejected it due to lack of evidence and associated [intellectual property] issues. Even in Australia … the government’s own intellectual property body, IP Australia, recently advised … that plain packaging ‘may not be consistent with Australia’s intellectual property treaty obligations’ and ‘would make it easier for counterfeit goods to be produced and would make it difficult to readily identify these counterfeit goods.'”
If the measure passes and is upheld after several years of absolutely certain litigation, there can be little doubt that cigars, smokeless and pipe tobacco will receive the same treatment, at least in Europe.
In the U.S., the plain-packaging debate is on the sidelines while the U.S. Food & Drug Administration pushes ahead with its plan for more graphic warnings about tobacco-related illnesses on cigarette packs that will come into effect in 2011. Essentially, the two different continental schemes on packaging amount to a real-time trial of both ideas as the anti-tobacco forces try anything they can think of to reduce cigarette consumption. Although cigars are very much of an adult pleasure, they will be caught up in this fight if either approach is perceived to be a success . . . regardless of whether it is or not.
>> It seems that smoking bans are expanding everywhere, but a new national poll shows Americans don’t want to ban smoking, but keep it away from them.
A Rasmussen Reports telephone poll released on November 19 found that only 17% of Americans want smoking banned entirely, down significantly from 22% in December 2008. A whopping total of 72% said tobacco smoking should not be banned and 11% were not sure.
Even among non-smokers, only 19% approved of a total ban on smoking, not too far from the 11% of current smokers who thought a total ban was a good idea.
On smoking regulations, however, sentiment was widely divided. A plurality, 38%, said that the current level of regulation was appropriate, with 26% asking for more regulations, 22% asking for less regulation and 14% not providing an answer. Men were twice as likely as women to say that current regulation levels are too high.
The Rasmussen polling data demonstrates the clever nature of the current approach employed by the anti-tobacco lobby, which is focusing not on prohibition per se, but on not allowing people a place to smoke. In Los Angeles, the City Council unanimously adopted a resolution asking the City Attorney to draft an ordinance to ban smoking essentially anywhere someone might smell it!
For cigar smokers, the good news is that an overwhelming majority of the country believes smoking is fine as long as it isn’t around them. The trick now is to be able to open more places where one can smoke without interference . . . before smoking is outlawed everywhere.
>> Where did tobacco come from? The answer seems to be Peru.
Scientists from the Meyer-Honninger Paleontology Museum in Peru announced on November 19 a find of a 4 1/2-inch block of fossilized fragments of tobacco leaves in the Maranon River basin in northeastern Peru, the oldest tobacco ever found.
The specimen was dated to beginning of the Pleistocene Era, about 2.5 million years ago, at the beginning of what is colloquially known as the “Ice Age.” The woolly mammoth, mastodon and saber-toothed cat were present, along with the forerunners of today’s human race.
According to the Museum, “This discovery allows us to establish that the plant dates back to the Pleistocene Era, and confirms that it originated in northern Peru.”
What is today known as the South American continent was not covered by ice during the early Pleistocene, allowing tobacco to develop. It was used by native Americans for centuries before being revealed to European explorers, beginning with Christopher Columbus on his first voyage in 1492. Now you know.
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