RIP Bert Sugar

Bert Sugar as seen in SMOKE magazine

Bert Sugar as seen in SMOKE magazine

Bert Sugar was a swell. He was best known for his love of, reporting and writing on the “sweet science” —boxing. The New York Daily News called him a reincarnation of Damon Runyan. Bert was always seen with his hat on and a cigar in his mouth (and more often than not a drink in his hand). It was natural then that he became a columnist for SMOKE magazine…his column Blowin Smoke was kind of sports coda to each issue of SMOKE. Bert passed away Sunday from a heart attack at the age of 75.
Originally from Washington D.C., Bert migrated north and found a home in New York City. A lawyer by education, a writer by avocation. Said Sugar, “I passed the Bar and it was the only bar I’ve ever passed.” After law school, Bert was one of the original Mad Men working for the big ad agencies, J. Walter Thompson and McCann Erickson on Madison Avenue in the 60s. Legend has it Bert came up with the old Nestle’s commercial of the 60s…”N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestles makes the very best.”
The author of more than 80 books and the editor and publisher of Boxing Illustrated and The Ring he lamented the state of sports reporting today and had much distain for bloggers.
“Once they state a subject, they can go on. There’s no space restraint. And they’re writing quickly, so there’s no time for thought and cerebral thinking on an article, they’re just banging away.”
He also believed in sitting around a bar listening to and telling stories because it gives writers a foundation. “Sports did not start in 1979 with the beginning of ESPN.”
Last year, Bert was at the IPCPR, the industry trade show, as he launched his own line of cigars distributed throughout the Northeast. For SMOKE, Bert has one last column to come out. It is in the current issue on newsstands now with Animal Planet’s Shorty Rossi on the cover. In his final column, Bert talks perhaps presciently about going through his stuff—the memorabilia he collected over 60 years. As with all of his columns it is a great story. Said SMOKE Editorial Director E. Edward Hoyt III,”Bert truly was one of a kind and we were fortunate indeed to have him as part of the SMOKE family. He will be sorely missed.”

New Partagas Debuts

Partagas 1845

Partagas 1845

General Cigar is officially announcing its newest addition to the Partagas line, the 1845. The new cigar, which had been reported by Cigar Aficionado after the Pro Cigar Festival, will be in stores April 9. The cigar is a departure from the Cameroon wrapped yellow box Partagas. The new cigar will have an Ecuadorian Habano Viso wrapper over Connecticut Habano binder and Dominican fillers.
The new 1845 is a medium bodied cigar nestled between the traditional yellow box Partagas and the stronger Partagas Black label.
The cigar was blended in the Dominican Republic by Jhonys Diaz, Francisco Rodriguez and Yuri Guillen with guidance from cigar legend Benji Menendez…the same group which blended the highly popular and successful limited edition Benji Menendez Partagas. Benji calls this “one of the most significant blends I have ever been involved in developing.”
The company also says there will be innovative packaging, but details won’t be released until right before the cigar hits the shelves. There will be four sizes Corona Extra, Robusto, Cigante and Double Corona with suggested prices running from $5.99- $7.49.

Affordable Health Care Act and Smoking

This week, the Supreme Court of the United States is hearing arguments on the Affordable Health Care Act, or Obamacare as it is called. Does this matter to you? If you smoke, it should. Here’s why:
Last week, an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, was about new Tobacco Cessation methods that soon will be forced on hospitals. Starting back in 2004, the Joint Commission (then called the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations) required hospitals to report when they gave advice on how to quit smoking. But now, the group is requiring hospitals to do much more including giving you drugs to help you stop smoking. The newest rules:
“… requires that hospitals identify and document the tobacco-use status of all admitted patients, provide both evidence-based cessation counseling and medication during hospitalization for all identified tobacco users (in the absence of contraindications or patient refusal), provide a referral at discharge for evidence-based cessation counseling and a prescription for cessation medication (in the absence of contraindications or patient refusal), and document tobacco-use status approximately 30 days after discharge.” (emphasis mine)
In other words, sell more drugs even though the most effective way to quit smoking it through e-cigarettes. A new study in the British Medical Journal showed the Nicotine Replacement Therapy (Nicorette and Nicotrol etc) was not effective. Says Dr. Michael Sigel :
“The most important finding of this story is that under the best real-life conditions of free nicotine replacement therapy and frequent counseling, a chemically-confirmed six-month smoking cessation rate of only 6.6% was achieved. Even the non-confirmed (self-reported) quit rate of 17.7% at six months among those who received free NRT is quite dismal.
Compare these findings with those of the first electronic cigarette trial. In that study, the sustained six-month abstinence rate was 22.5%.”
Anyway back to Obamacare, it includes tobacco intervention as a key component of the law, which is why the Joint Commission is acting. According to the Joint Commission:
“The act also mandates that, by 2014, new insurance plans provide coverage for evidence-based prevention treatments [this means drugs], including those for tobacco cessation. Helping patients quit using tobacco is one of the greatest preventive care efforts in which hospitals can engage, and it is likely that other regulatory bodies will soon require such efforts.”
You can expect more intrusion into your private life if the Affordable Care act is upheld. The bureaucrats like the Joint Commission or the Independent Payment Advisory Board will be able to mandate your behavior since they would be providing your health insurance. Just like over in Britain where the National Health Service is taking into account your lifestyle when deciding if you will get medical treatments. Hip and knee replacements are off limits to smokers or people with a Body Mass Index of 30 or more. But now the National Health Service Trust in Hertfordshire has expanded the rules so smokers are banned from all routine surgeries. Think that won’t happen here?
By the way, the whole Joint Commisson rules on tobacco which flogs effective medication, the head of the panel that wrote the rules received grant funding from Nabi Pharmaceuticals—which just happens to have a nicotine vaccine on a fast track by the FDA for use in smoking cessation. Good thing the “science” is independent.

Springfield to Vote

We’ve told you about Live Free Springfield’s attempt to overturn the Missouri city’s draconian smoking ban—a ban that bars smoking in tobacco shops and even includes e-cigarettes which are not even smoke. The group collected enough signatures to get the city council to act on repealing the ban. Last night, the council punted. While there was talk of the repeal or even a compromise, the hard liners– supported by the One Air Alliance (i.e. American Heart, Lung and Cancer Societies and Missouri state health…or put another way, the ones with a lot of cash) defeated all the proposals and in the end the council voted to put the measure on the June ballot. That special election will cost the city nearly $100-thousand dollars (not including the money One Air will spend on getting its voters out, which last time was another $100k.) So in addition to the jobs lost in Springfield now the city will be out even more money, yet the anti’s say Smoking Bans do not cost. Right.

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