November 15, 2011 · Posted in Cigar Industry · 7 Comments 

A little over a month ago I participated in a beta test for a new cigar auction site called Cigar Sniper. Developed by Famous Smoke, Cigar Sniper is a penny auction site, which means you pay a fee for each bid ($0.60 is the value for the “paid” bids and, depending on the package you purchase, you will receive a number of “free” bids – more on that later) and because the bids cost money the overall price for the product can be much lower than the retail price of said product. Here are some of the rules you can find on the Cigar Sniper site:

Cigar Sniper is unlike other penny auction sites, where you forfeit the money you spent bidding on auctions. Instead, any money you spend bidding counts towards the purchase of the item at Famous Smoke Shop’s everyday low price.

Cigar Sniper is perfect for anyone who was already going to buy a box of cigars: you either win the auction at a steep discount, or you buy the box at the everyday Famous price by simply paying the difference.

That, right there, is the salient point that you have to seriously take into consideration when using this site, once it’s live, to make purchases. There’s also a hidden point that I did not find explained on the Cigar Sniper landing page: there are “paid” bids and “free” bids. The hierarchy here is simple: only the “paid” bids, which have a $0.60 value, count towards purchasing the item you lost out on. “Free” bids are just that, free. You can use them to bid on items but if you happen to lose out on that item those lost bids do not count towards your purchase of that item. That is a serious consideration to keep in mind when bidding.

Now, when I was going through the beta test the site would just automatically use the “free” bids up before moving onto the “paid” bids. I don’t know how it is going to work once the site goes live but just remember if you use this site to note which bids you are using.

I think there is going to be a distinct strategy that develops on this site. Free bids, with less inherent value, are going to be used more in the “spray and pray” approach to sniping deals. And why not? Someone may be willing to pay $80.00 for a certain box of cigars but not $125.00 for that same box and, as long as he’s using “free” bids, he has every incentive to jack up the bidding to $80.00 for that box.

This is a bad situation to be in if you are using “paid” bids, however. Let’s assume we are in the same situation as above but instead of “free” bids you are stuck with “paid” bids. And you’re up against a guy who is frivolously using his “free” bids, recklessly jacking up the price of the product. You bid ($0.60) and then he bids ($0.00) and then over and over again a number of times. The bid price is going up and up, you are paying for each bid, and, before you know it, the bid is now at $74.50 and you have made ten bids ($6.00 total) and that is more than you are willing to pay for that box. So you quit, which means you lose both the box and the $6.00 in bids. Bummer.

On the other hand, if you are using paid bids and you are going up against someone else who is using paid bids and you both fit into the customer category that Cigar Sniper described above (i.e. both of you are going to buy the box no matter what) you will both have the incentive to keep on bidding up the price because you want to win the box as cheaply as possible. At the end of the day you will both end up paying retail for that product because both of you are incentivized to keep on bidding until the combination of the cost of the bids and the bid price equals the retail price of the product.

Complications will assuredly arise as this site attracts more and more visitors. I can foresee a situation where the “free” bid gangsters muck up the works for “paid” bidders because there is appreciably less value in “free” bids. And the more people on the site actively bidding the more chances this type of situation will arise.

It isn’t all bad though. I think that during the early stages of this site there will be some awesome deals to be had. And if you do fit into the customer category laid out by Cigar Sniper (you’re going to buy the thing anyways so why not take a chance and get it for less?) then this site does have some value to it.

Some people, however, should stay away from this site and they include:

  • People with poor self control.
  • People with poor math skills.
  • Those without a lot of free time available to win an auction.
  • Non-smokers.

Personally, I’ll check the site out and see what products are going for. If there are deals to be had I’ll jump on them. If not, I’ll take a pass. Just remember to do your homework and know what items on the block are going for out on the normal market. And, probably most importantly of all, if you are going to be bidding on a product with “paid” bids then you should only be bidding if you are going to end up buying the product regardless of the outcome of the auction. Using paid bids to get a product you don’t want to pay full price on is a bad idea because, chances are, the eventual price of the product is going to trend towards the full retail price.

PS: Make sure to read and understand all the rules to this site before playing. I didn’t get into all the rules (like the one where if there is a bid during the last 15 seconds then the clock goes back up to 15 seconds or the one where people can place auto-bids, which will jack up prices for you). So educate yourself and be prepared with a plan of action before taking on the other bidders at Cigar Sniper.

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.

Want to Lose More Jobs? Ban Cigars

May 28, 2010 · Posted in Assault on Cigars · 1 Comment 

Seriously, it’s that simple. If your economy is getting a little overheated (and who’s isn’t?) and you need to apply the brakes a little to prevent a bubble from occurring then all you have to do is ban cigars. Just like the brilliant mayor of Orange County, Florida, the honorable Richard Crotty.

Apparently without any public hearings or prior publicity, Orange County Mayor Richard T. Crotty secretly signed an executive order late last year that has kept tens of millions of dollars from pouring into the local economy. At the same time, the jobs of thousands of county workers are being threatened, according to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

Crotty signed an executive order that prohibits tobacco use by anyone in any workplace or public area on or in county property. The order was effective January 1, 2010. In addition, county employees are required to sign a ‘Tobacco Usage’ affidavit that swears they don’t smoke or be subject to a $25 fee per pay period – up to $650 per year. The alternative is for the employees who choose to smoke more than four cigars per year to quit their jobs.

From: PR Web

If you are a cigar smoker in this little slice of fascist heaven you risk losing your job because you partake in a legal activity.

According to Tom Ufer from the Tampa Cigar Examiner, this ban, which includes a ban on smoking cigars in many outdoor locations, comes on the heels of an indoor ban.

Several major cities, including Orlando, reside in Orange County and the local economy heavily relies on tourism.

The ordinance now outlaws the use of any tobacco product in areas such as outdoors at the Orange County Convention Center, County parks, fishing docks, boat ramps, outdoor trails, county owned parking lots, streets and sidewalks.

From: Tampa Cigar Examiner

Let’s recap the carnage: Orange County, Florida is fine with losing workers who smoke cigars and don’t want to pay the fine. They are also OK with losing cigar smoking tourists, which will lead to some more job losses. Also, according to Tom Ufer’s article, Orange County is using $6.6 million from stimulus funding to pay for this draconian anti-smoking law. If you keep track, that stimulus money was meant to spur job growth, not fund anti-smoking, Nazi block watchers.

And this from a county that is suffering some pretty bad unemployment numbers too! Yup, it’s over 12% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But smell that clean Florida air!

Unless you like losing jobs and tax revenue then it would probably be a good idea to oppose bans like this one. Just to get you on the right track you can oppose this ban by going on over to Tom’s article where he has so thoughtfully put up a list of the people who have a say over this ban: Orange County, FL politicians.

Orange County, Florida: Mayor Crotty bans use of tobacco products

Happy Thanksgiving

November 26, 2009 · Posted in Cigar Community · Comment 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I would just like to take this time to thank each and everyone one of you who have stopped by to read about my thoughts on cigars.

Now go and enjoy some turkey, your time with loved ones and, if you get some time, enjoy a great cigar or two! :-)

World’s Longest Cigar

November 25, 2009 · Posted in Cigar Community · Comment 

A Floridian created the world’s longest cigar last Saturday when he built a cigar measuring over 180 feet. Now, I’m sure some of you are saying that this is a pointless endeavor and that this guy should be worried about more important things; like creating tasty cigars in a more manageable vitola.

You scoffers are obviously overlooking the buzz this guy is creating for his brand, which means more sales for this guy. You would also be missing the point that it’s just cool doing something like this. After all, if you can’t be the best, you might as well be the longest.

From the story:

“We still here and we still making big things,” said Wallace Reyes, the man who hand-rolls cigars at the Ybor City Museum almost every day, and the man behind the world record attempt.  “So why not bring the worlds longest cigar to the cigar capital of the world?”

Over the past few weeks, Mr. Reyes rolled super-long cigars sections in preparation for Saturday’s record attempt.


On Saturday morning, the sections were joined over a several hour period and the final adjudication was made later that day.

Before the announcement, Reyes said, “We’re gonna have a brand new record!”

Fortunately, his hard work paid off, and the record was his.

And if you are one of those people who do not believe everything you read then here is video proof!

That is one BIG cigar!

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