New Mischief and a New Cigar (with a dumb name) by Frank Seltzer

Miami has been home to many cigar makers.  It’s legendary Calle Ocho still resonates with the sounds of cigar making.  Now Miami is talking about banning flavored cigars and other tobacco.  As usual, Menthol, Mint and Wintergreen are exempt.  The Miami-Dade County Commissioners are taking a preliminary vote on the measure today.  It is all about the kids don’t you know.

“Flavored tobacco products, a favorite of high school kids, could be prohibited from sale in Miami-Dade County.”

This is how the story begins and of course everyone thinks about the 13 year old smoking a blunt.  The reality is that the vast majority of stores won’t sell to those kids.  They may sell to 18 year olds who are old enough to join the military and give their life for the country.

“The kids can be in the classroom chewing tobacco and the teachers won’t know anything — it looks just like candy,” said William Sanchez, a longtime Hialeah parks employee who also works with the county on a tobacco-free youth effort. “It’s growing in popularity, and it’s easy to carry.”

Yeah those flavored cigars do look like a Mounds bar….not.  Of course conveniently forgotten in this discussion is that it already is illegal for anyone under 18 to buy any tobacco products.  But unless the cigar makers of Miami rise up against this, it probably will pass.

At least one company is fighting back…Swisher based in Jacksonville.

“There are laws on the books now,” said Joe Augustus, Swisher’s senior vice president of external affairs. “It seems to me they need to work on enforcing the law more than banning the product.”

That seems logical so it probably will never work.

Dumb Idea



Ok some cigars have stupid names—Smoking Toad,  Fighting Cock, Big Butt, Smoking Ass, Bad Frog and our own Flor de Baloney that Lew came up with years ago when Villazon was still making cigars in Cofradia.  But there is a new cigar with possibly a dumber name…Merlion. (Even though it may look like a sealion) La Sirena, a boutique brand made by La Aurora and wholesaled through Miami Cigars has announced the Merlion.  Yup, it is supposed to be a cross between a Mermaid and the La Aurora Lion for the Leon family.

The cigar itself will use Ecuadoran Corojo for the wrapper with a Brazilian Sumatra binder.  The fillers are Brazilian, Dominican and Nicaraguan.  It will come in three sizes—Robusto, Toro and Gran Toro and cost between $9 and $10.50.

Shape Trademarked

Litto Gomez makes La Flor Dominicana.  Early on, they were mild to medium smokes.  But then Litto got the idea of making a a much stronger cigar and the  Double Ligero was born to great success.  Then in 2003, he added a new shape, the Chisel, a kind of flattened torpedo.

(Rumor has it the best way to smoke a chisel is to punch the top of the flat part not cut it, which is what I generally do.)  Anyway, according to Cigar Aficionado Litto filed for and last month got a trademark on the name Chisel AND the shape.  The registration is retroactive to 2006 and goes through 2016.

Electronically Yours

In speaking about Cigar Aficionado it should be noted that the magazine is now offering digital subscriptions for your iPad, iPhone or Android.  Last Friday, CA uploaded 5 issues of the magazine and says many more will be coming.

Dirtbin Does it Again

When last we heard from Senators Dick Durban (D –Owned by Big Pharma) and  Frank Lautenberg (D -I saw Prohibition firsthand), they were all about pressuring the FDA to regulate cigars.  Seems they felt flavored cigars were the gateway to hell.   Well now the dyspeptic duo joined by newcomer Richard Blumenthal (D- Connecticut) are saying the tobacco tax is unfair.  You might think that is true and good, but NO.  These morons think the taxes on cigarettes are just right and want to raise the tax on all other tobacco products up to the cigarette level.  Of course the smoke Nazis at the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids — a Johnson and Johnson lapdog (gotta push drugs for people who want to stop smoking)– loves the idea.

They consider the hard fought S-CHIP lower tax rate (which was a huge increase BTW) for large cigars is a “loophole” and want to close it.

“Blumenthal added that this measure “equalizes the federal tax rate for all tobacco products to that of cigarettes” and is expected to generate more than $1b billion in revenue.”

Sure it will Skippy.

This is why we need the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act.    We have sent over 100,000 petitions to Congress but need more.  Be certain that you have sent a petition.

Kalifornia Kapers

The Wall Street Journal editorializes this week that California’s financial situation is getting ugly.  It notes that the state is now forecasting a 16 billion dollar budget deficit and adds that Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin –who will make billions off the Facebook’s Initial Public Offering— won’t be paying taxes on it because he has renounced his U-S citizenship to move to Singapore which has no capital gains tax.  You would think with the revenue drop the state would be lowering taxes to help bring in more business and people….you would be wrong.    Up first is the “California Cancer Research Act” which sounds nice but as I have written before, Prop 29 as it is also known raises state taxes on tobacco—cigars included.

As we have written before, California also faces a lack of money to pay off its tobacco settlement bonds.  As the LA Daily News wrote:

“Unlike many other states, California made the mistake of deciding not to take the annual payments from tobacco firms but instead borrowed money against expected receipts. Now that the payments are less, the state faces another fiscal problem.

California is one of only a few states that guaranteed some of those bonds with general fund revenue. If tobacco settlement money does not cover the debt, the state will have to pick up some of the tab. There are currently $2.9 billion in bonds outstanding that are backed by a state general fund guarantee.

To add to its fiscal woes, California went back to investors in 2007, when it issued $4.4 billion in 40-year tobacco bonds. To have sufficient revenue to pay back investors by 2047, the state assumes cigarette consumption will decline by about 1.8 percent per year.”

Ok kids, let’s assume Prop 29 passes and tobacco taxes go up.  What will happen to tobacco sales?  Anyone ? Anyone?  Bueller? Right, they will drop further and the so-called tax increase will result in less tobacco revenues making California’s financial situation worse.  Genius.

Still Working

There are some people still fighting the good fight.

In Kansas, the legislature is considering a plan that would let people light up again.  The bill was introduced at the end of last month and aims to let patrons smoke in bars and casinos.  One lawmaker says because it was introduced so late in the session it is unlikely to become a law this year.

As we noted last week, the Live Free Springfield coalition has made progress against its draconian smoking ban.  But the group still needs help as it faces a June 5th vote to totally repeal the 2011 ban.  They take donations on the webpage.

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