AFGL: Orange, Krauss and Lists

January 6, 2012 · Posted in AFGL, Assault on Cigars, Cigar Community, Entertainment · Comment 

A Few Good Links this week will cover how Camacho/Davidoff got screwed out of a sponsorship deal with the Orange Bowl, Alison Kruass and Union Station’s new album and a few of the top cigars of the year lists I saw.

  • Patrick S. over at Stogie Review has a really good post about how the Orange Bowl reneged on their sponsorship deal with Camacho Cigars. It’s a travesty, for sure. What I’m really hoping for is that one of these days when the smoke Nazis (or whatever pejorative for these national hall monitors you prefer) have beaten us in a battle we will turn around and use that loss as our Alamo. I would be ecstatic if the Orange Bowl were our Alamo but it probably isn’t. One of these days though….
  • This last week I’ve been blaring the newest album from Alison Krauss and Union Station: Paper Airplane in my car and at home. I don’t know how to describe why it is that I like her music so much, whether it is with Union Station or with Robert Plant or whoever, other than to say that she is an amazing talent. And so are all the musicians in Union Station. They’re the whole package. If you can pick up the special CD from Target with the extra tracks.

Some observations regarding those lists: 1. I didn’t smoke nearly enough cigars last year, 2. I have to find that Grimalkin I have somewhere and 3. I still have to do my list (yeah!). I figure that as long as I get a list out before Cigar Aficionado is done unveiling theirs then I am okay.

Help Exempt Premium Cigars from FDA Regulation

October 10, 2011 · Posted in Assault on Cigars, Cigar Industry · 2 Comments 

I was alerted to this by one of my more loyal readers the other day and I think it warrants its own post. As many of you know, there is a chance that the FDA will unilaterally start regulating premium cigars in a manner that would throw the industry on its head. What follows is an explanation of what could happen from CRA and, if you want to take some action, follow THIS LINK to send a message to your representatives.

Help Exempt Premium Cigars From FDA Regulation! H.R. 1639 / S. 1461 – Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act

Whereas on April 26, 2010, December 20, 2010, and July 7, 2011 the U.S. Food & Drug Administration publicly posted their intent to regulate cigars in the Federal Register, it is incumbent upon the cigar enthusiasts of the United States to voice their opposition to any proposed new regulation of premium/traditional cigars by the United States Government.

House Resolution 1639 has been filed in the U.S. House of Representatives; and a companion bill, Senate Bill 1461, has been filed in the Senate. Both are filed under the banner of the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act. This bi-partisan legislation would decree that premium/traditional cigars should be off limits to FDA regulation and, ‘to clarify the Food & Drug Administration’s jurisdiction’ in the ‘sale, manufacturing and distribution of traditional and premium cigars.’

Such legislation could have a profound impact on protecting the industry, from the fields and factories of Central America , to the supply-chain throughout this nation, to the community tobacconist, to enjoying a cigar in the local shop, club or back porch.

We can assure you, nothing could rip the soul of the cigar industry apart, like FDA actions. For example, some of the (again) hypothetical possibilities, but that are not beyond the realm of reason include: No more walk in humidors (Canadian model); Limits on advertising and promotions; Banning the very word cigar or tobacco; Manufacturers having to submit blends to FDA for “testing,” before heading to your local shop – imagine the impact on boutique cigar makers; Adverse impact on flavored tobacco products; And price impact due to new fees on manufacturers. This, is the short list.

The Case for Cigar Lounges

April 7, 2011 · Posted in Assault on Cigars, Deep Thoughts · 1 Comment 

I just got done reading this impassioned plea for… No, that’s not right. I just got done reading this inane plea for continuing to outlaw cigar lounges in the state of Washington (HERE). It’s written by a couple of guys who serve on Boards of Health for their respective counties, so you can guess at their motivation for writing this.

Before I jump into the inanities of their editorial piece let me provide some background on that dreary, cold and wet state they call a home. You can’t smoke in a car, you can’t smoke in a bar, you can’t smoke there or anywhere in Washington (unless you are at home and all your children and pets are wearing gas masks).

Now that I have brought you up to speed, let me dive into the inanities. First off, what they are talking about is a cigar lounge. So that “$628″ spent by each household (which is, I’m sure, the average. If they wanted to figure out what the median amount paid by each household is it would be a significantly lower number.) to pay for “smoking-related health care” does not apply here because a cigar is not a cigarette.

Lumping cigar smokers together with cigarette smokers (and chewing tobacco users for that matter) is unfair for a number of reasons. First off, cigar smokers in general smoke less frequently than cigarette smokers do. Many cigar smokers will have a couple cigars a week, many less often than that. In addition to that, cigar smokers almost never inhale cigar smoke, which makes getting lung cancer from smoking only cigars a bit tricky (Yes, cigar smoking can cause other types of cancer like throat or mouth cancer).

Alas, that plucky Health Board duo who wrote this article does not make a distinction between the different groups of smokers. If I had to guess, I would say that of that “$628″ that each family has to spend for smoking related illnesses less than $10 is spent on illnesses caused by cigars. Actually, strike that, it’s probably less than $1 because cigar smokers, especially those who smoke enough cigars to approach the danger zone of getting cancer from cigar smoking, are usually wealthy and will be paying their own hospital bills.

“But what about those poor bastards who can only find work at a cigar lounge?” In an effort not to forget about those brave souls who are victims of second and third hand smoke I will present you with this observation: Most of the people who work at brick and mortar cigar shops and cigar lounges seem to also [wait for it] smoke cigars!

Oh, sure, the writers of the editorial that got me so worked up love to pull at the heartstrings. I guess their line of reasoning is that if they can’t fool someone with their intentionally misleading statistics they will get them by regaling them with sob stories about how Timmy’s mom took a job at the Smoke Shoppe (because that was the only job she could find during these difficult economic times) and then died later that week from a “smoking-related” disease. If you think I’m kidding about the one week thing you need to read this.

Alright, I think we can all agree that the cases against cigar lounges as articulated by the boys from the Board of Health from such-and-such counties are bull. Now lets get into the case for cigar lounges.

First off, they’re awesome. At a cigar lounge you will probably have access to a variety of cigars and, in all likelihood, some libations as well. You get to sit and smoke and drink and talk to your heart’s content. So that’s a plus.

Secondly, more cigar lounges means more jobs. The duo from the Board of Health tried to dismiss this by saying “…a 2010 study found that within two years after the Clean Indoor Air law went into effect [outlawing smoking in any public space in Washington], sales in Washington bars and taverns were higher than expected.” That’s such a neat turn of phrase: “than expected.” What exactly was “expected” of bar sales? My money is on there being an easily discernible inflection point for bar profits right when that law was passed. And second: WE ARE TALKING ABOUT CIGAR LOUNGES NOT CIGARETTE LOUNGES!!!!

Even though those knuckleheads who wrote that article gloss over the jobs created angle I won’t. More cigar lounges means there will need to be more jobs. Owners of cigar stores will get to reopen their lounges, which leads to more foot traffic, more revenues and that all leads to more jobs.

But it doesn’t stop at just those jobs that are directly created by the legalization of cigar lounges. There are the ancillary businesses that will be bolstered by legalizing cigar lounges: new furniture will be needed, ads will have to be placed, more books will need to be kept, more gas used, carpenters will be called on to rebuild lounge areas, painters will be needed and so on.

Then there are the jobs that will be created in the cigar industry since more people would be smoking cigars if cigar lounges were legalized in Washington. The humble torcedors deftly crafting premium cigars, proud farmers who fertilize their crops with their passion, not to mention the legion of marketers, accountants, lawyers, salesmen and others who are needed to navigate the cigar market all would be enriched if Washington would approve the legalization of cigar lounges.

My last reason for supporting the legalization of cigar lounges in Washington is that it is the right thing to do. I know it might sound old fashioned but I think that grown ups should be allowed to take responsibility for their lives.

I’m completely aware of the fact that smoking cigars is not the ideal way to keep care of my body. But if you could please lift your gaze a little and look down the “ideal” road a little ways you will see some pretty horrifying things. It’s a road that is strewn with the poor who are made poorer because their legislature thought they should be taxed more for smoking cigarettes.

Lift your gaze a little bit higher now and you will see that there are now many thousands more who are incarcerated because they did not yield to their country’s ever stricter enforcement of laws against this or that foible.

If you lift your gaze just a little more you will see the death and destruction that necessarily follows the criminalization of people who are otherwise good people. Here you will see whole towns laid to waste by organized crime syndicates Hell bent on controlling their slice of the now illicit trade of tobacco.

Now raise your gaze up to take a glimpse of the end of the road. Here you will see the most disturbing image. It’s an image of a nation full of slaves. The people here, if you can still call them people, no longer are told what they cannot do but what they have to do. All freedoms have been traded in for a bit of security. The people toil for their despots from cradle to grave ignorant of the freedoms their ancestors once had. And the most frightening thing of all is that they are all smiling even though their masters are lurking in the shadows with their whips at the ready.

Litto Gomez Fights for Freedom

October 17, 2010 · Posted in Assault on Cigars · 2 Comments 

The other day I was perusing through my Cigar Aficionado subscription and happened on one of the best pro-freedom ads I have seen in a while. It was put on by Litto Gomez and even though the main argument was for continuing to keep cigar smoking as a freedom it put up an array of other consumables that have had attacks leveled against them by health activists inside and outside of the government. Here it is:

Litto Gomez fights for our freedoms.

In order to see it in all its glory you will need to click on the image. Check it out.

How to Effectively Fight for your Right to Smoke Cigars

May 30, 2010 · Posted in Assault on Cigars, Deep Thoughts · 1 Comment 

One of the most awe inspiring historical events is the last stand of the Spartans at Thermopylae. At that narrow pass, 300 Spartans (plus some other lesser known Greeks) held off the combined might of the Persians, which purportedly numbered in the millions, long enough to let the Greeks regroup and launch a proper counterattack. Due to the bravery of those brave few, democracy survived Xerxes onslaught.

Fast forward to today and we have a story that is kind of, sort of similar to that famous last stand. Every day you smoke cigars. These cigars are carefully made by skillful artisans in far flung lands that you have probably never visited. In fact, according to Jose Blanco from La Aurora, which happens to be the factory I recently visited, over 200 people are involved in cigar making process. Honestly, when you consider the gigantic operation it takes to take a cigar from seed to your humidor it is mind boggling.

And let me be clear, when I say that over 200 people are involved in the cigar making process I mean over 200 people come in direct contact with the tobacco that comprises your premium cigars. That is 200 lives that are improved by the mere fact of taking part in making your cigars.

Like the fabled Sword of Damocles, cigar taxes and bans threaten these people’s livelihoods. With each new assault on cigars, more and more of these humble craftsman lose their jobs. We are reaching a tipping point where, due to the religious fervor with which politicians attack our noble pastime, these people are losing their jobs.

Cigar factories have almost completely disappeared from America. I fear that with the zealous advance of cigar taxes and bans both here in America and internationally that there will come a time when many of the people who are now employed in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and many other countries in Latin America will eventually lose their jobs.

It does not take an immense imaginative leap to claim that with the loss of relatively lucrative jobs working in a cigar factory that these people will have to find well-paying jobs elsewhere, like in America. Now, I’m not one of those “open borders” people but I can definitely appreciate the fact, and it is a fact, that desperate people will risk a lot to improve their lot in life.

So, if they lose their cigar factory jobs in the Dominican Republic, they are likely to move to someplace where the job prospects are better; like America. Now, I know that you, my fellow Brothers of the Leaf, don’t need any more convincing that cigar taxes and bans are stupid. But others might need a little nudge to oppose these draconian measures against cigars.

Here’s the point. The next time you have one of those nattering nay-bobs  pouncing on you for smoking a premium cigar you need to come at them with a different tact. Instead of using the all-too legitimate standby of cigar smoking being a right you need to come at them with the negative economic impact that cigar taxes and bans will thrust upon the world.

Tell them that each time the government suppresses cigar smoking, jobs will be lost abroad and domestically. Tell them that whenever another city bans cigar smoking in a bar they are eliminating jobs domestically and internationally. And that those lost jobs in Honduras will lead to those displaced workers plying their trade in America. Do those proponent of cigar bans really want more people flooding across the border? Didn’t think so.

It is actually quite simple. Whenever you encounter someone who is all for another cigar tax or ban just tell them of the economic repercussions of their stance. The whole “rights” argument just doesn’t penetrate their bigoted minds. You have to hit closer to home. Make it personal for them.

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