Have you seen any of the news this past week? The calendar is kind of weird right now – since 4th of July fell on a Wednesday I’m sure that many people made it a 5-day weekend (and more power to you). In case you missed it, there was another jobs report, and much yelling and screaming ensued; everyone yelled at each other about whether “the Mandate” was a tax or a penalty. Gov. Romney was riding a jet ski, and the President was riding a bus. It’s been a little (too) quiet, though, about where the effort stands to exempt premium, hand-rolled cigars from FDA regulation. So as we wrap up another week full of political news/noise, I thought it was a good time to drop in a few recent updates on the standing of the legislation pending in Congress, HR1639/S1461 – The Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act. Continue reading
Anti-smoking legislature is fraught with problems, not the least of which is the erosion of personal liberty. I can understand anti-smoking laws in schools and hospitals, and even government buildings. But if you thought that banning smoking in privately-owned restaurants and clubs was an overstep of authority, wait until you get a load of this.
The “City that Never Sleeps” is currently considering legislation that would expand anti-smoking laws to include to the city’s parks, beaches, and other public outdoor locations, including Times Square. The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) and New York Tobacconist Association have formed a partnership to oppose the measure. Continue reading
A 14-year legal odyssey has seen Cubatabaco, the Cuban state tobacco monopoly, desperately trying to protect its Cohiba brand in the coveted U.S. marketplace. A recent ruling, however, found in favor of General Cigar, now a subsidiary of Swedish Match.
For decades (and even longer, in some cases),
Cuban cigars were created under well-known names such as Montecristo, Cohiba, Romeo y Julieta, and others. However, Cubatabaco failed to trademark its brand names in the Unites States, where sales of its product were effectively illegalized by the Embargo of 1962.
General Cigar began marketing cigars under the “Cohiba” name in 1978. Its Cameroon-wrapped “red dot” Cohiba cigars bowed in 1997, earning serious praise and a cult-like following.
But that’s just one brand. Nearly every Cuban brand name has a Dominican-, Honduran-, or Nicaraguan-made counterpart marketed to American cigar smokers, for whom Cuban cigars remain illegal (even abroad).
To further complicate matters, one of General Cigar’s biggest competitors, Altadis, acquired in 2000 a 50% stake in Habanos S.A., the promotion, distribution, and export arm of Cubatabaco. Altadis currently manufacturers the non-Cuban Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta, meaning the deal granted Cubatabaco some modicum of control over these Cubancigar brands stateside.
All that raises a two-part question:
- Will we see an end to the Embargo any time soon?
- Judging by Cubatabaco’s actions, it would seem THEY hope so.
- If/When the Embargo DOES end, what does that mean for all these so-called “Cuban Exile” brands?
- Give That Firm a Cigar! DLA Wins Second Circuit Over Sale of “Cohibas”
- Altadis on Wikipedia
- Habanos SA on Wikipedia
Cigar retailers and smokers across Pennsylvania breathed a collective sigh of relief today as Governor Rendell signed into law a budget containing no new taxes on cigars. Call me a pessimist, but I’m still worried about future budgets.
“I can’t believe they left this money on the table and they’d rather see people laid off from their jobs than to tax these products,” opined Deborah P. Brown of the American Lung Association.
They (legislators) didn’t leave money on the table, Deborah, because it was never there to begin with. What they did was refuse to cower in the face the populist opinion your organization has worked so hard to cultivate. Continue reading