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Vermont Cigar Factory - A Woman in a Man's World
Monday, 15 December 2008

A well-appointed Burlington dining room may be the last place, and Lizzie Keating the last person you'd expect to see cigar-rolling. Keating chuckles, "The Irish, private-school thing usually throws them off!" But this business owner does roll cigars, by the dozen, through her 4-year-old company, Vermont Cigar Factory. She beams, "I just love the process! It's nice to know it's probably the freshest cigar in the state!" She learned this craft from a Cuban master cigar roller now living in Key West, Fla. Keating recalls, "He told me to basically not be too confident because it's always a learning process." Keating has discovered different kinds of tobaccos and the skill it takes to make a tightly-rolled, long-lasting cigar. Using seasoned tobacco grown in the Dominican Republic and Connecticut, she sells online and more commonly, shows off her talents in live demonstrations at weddings and golf tournaments. She's a sort of entertainer who provides custom-labeled products to party-goers. Keating explains, "It's just that unusual thing people don't know you can have at an event." Smoking in general is on the decline, but cigars remain a popular tobacco niche following a boom in the 1990s that saw celebrities lighting up and cigar bars opening. Still, Lizzie Keating will be the first one to tell you cigars are not a healthy alternative to cigarettes. There are serious health risks to any tobacco use. She says, "There is a time and place people like to enjoy cigars." So for customers who enjoy an occasional indulgence, this businesswoman is on a "roll" with these traditions from Cuba, now "Made in Vermont." Lizzie Keating runs the Vermont Cigar Factory as a sideline to her other business, Burlington taxi service Green Cab.


Dewey Defeats Truman and Boston Bans Cigar Bars
Friday, 12 December 2008

This morning I was reminded of this famously incorrect banner headline, "Dewey Defeats Truman". I wasn't alive at the time, but this headline went down in history for incorrectly stating the winner of the US Presidential Election in 1948. Here's this morning's version in the cigar world. There are headlines all over the Internet. I have seen them on at least 10 different websites, mostly mainstream media, proclaiming: "Boston commission votes to ban cigar, hookah bars" That was the Associated Press Headline that everyone else picked up. Here's the deal: Yes. Smoking in cigar bars has been banned in Boston ... IN TEN (10) YEARS! There is a 10 year grace period for cigar bars. I think the politicians figured they could get those special interest group appealing headlines while actually still doing what is right. It's really a no-brainer to understand that a place such as a cigar bar exists specifically for people that are adults that have made the educated and informed decision to smoke regardless of the hair-brained fools that try to tell everyone else how to live their life. Who knows what is going to happen in one year, let alone ten years? I think this is a victory for Boston cigar bars. Everyone in Boston should go have a smoke at the aptly named Victory Bar & Cigar. Here is the text of the AP piece: ----------------------------------------------- BOSTON (AP) — Boston officials approved some of the toughest anti-tobacco rules in the nation Thursday, extinguishing cigar bars and hookah bars and ending the sales of tobacco in pharmacies and on college campuses. The Boston Public Health Commission, however, decided to give the bars 10 years before they would have to close, doubling the original proposed grace period for the establishments. Even then, the bars could seek an extension for another 10 years. Boston is the largest city, by far, to move to outlaw smoking bars, which have been exempt from the city's four-year-old workplace smoking ban. "As we all know, smoking is the number one cause of preventable cancer deaths in the U.S.," said Dr. Paula Johnson, chairwoman of the commission. "It's very important that we really think about what are the steps we can take to make our city as healthy as it can possibly be," she said. The commission gave preliminary approval in September to the rules, which will take effect on campuses and pharmacies in 60 days. The panel also voted to expand the workplace smoking restrictions to include and hotels, inns and bed and breakfasts, as well as areas such as loading docks. Under the new regulations, operators of a smoking bar whose permit is current or whose application was pending before the commission by Nov. 1 will be able to operate for a period of not more than 10 years. After 10 years, they can petition for one 10-year extension. Roger Swartz, who heads the commission's community initiatives bureau, said the panel lengthened the grace period for the bars because of hard economic times. "We wanted to give them a bit more time to get used to the idea that they'll have to close," Swartz said. The meeting was attended by a handful of cigar bar patrons, including Stephen Helfer, 61, Cambridge, who held a sign urging the panel not to close the bars. "This is just an incremental step toward total prohibition," he said. Right now, there are no state bans on smoking bars; 52 communities nationwide have bans that include private clubs and cigar bars, according to Americans for Nonsmokers Rights. Fort Wayne, Ind., is among the largest communities with such bans, and smaller cities in Massachusetts also have them. The ban on tobacco sales in pharmacies is not as unique in big cities; a similar ban went into effect in San Francisco in October, despite a pending court challenge. "It's very inconsistent with their mission," said Swartz of the pharmacies selling smoking materials. "In fact, you could say it's a conflict of interest." The fines for violating the new regulations would range from $200 to $1,000, the commission said.


Playboy Playmate Kimberly Holland at Brookelynn Premium Cigars
Wednesday, 10 December 2008

On Thursday, December 18th, Brookelynn Premium Cigars in Leland will be hosting a fun-filled event to promote Playboy cigars. Highlighting the festivities will be a personal appearance by former Playboy Playmate Kimberly Holland, who will greet customers and sign autographs. In addition, customers can take advantage of special deals on Playboy cigars. During event hours, from 6:00 to 9:00 PM, customers will receive a free Playboy cigar with the purchase of three. Purchasers of a box will receive six free Playboy cigars plus a lighter and an ashtray. The luxurious and stylish Playboy cigar, introduced last year, is a fuller-bodied complement to the original Playboy by Don Diego. Both are made at Altadis U.S.A.’s esteemed Tabacalera de García factory in the Dominican Republic. Brookelynn Premium Cigars is located at 2013 Old Regent Way, Leland, NC 28451. (910) 371-0025.      


The Fine Arzt of Cigars
Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Gary J. Arzt writes a monthly column for as well as many articles and interviews with manufacturers. Last week we had a conversation about a particular cigar. I thought I would share part of it with you. Kevin: You had told me long ago about a cigar you made called Arzt de los Reyes. You also indicated you would never do it again. Gary: You're referring to the $600,000 mistake! Well, actually, two mistakes. Augusto Reyes and I collaborated on a 100% Dominican cigar in 1996. It was, after Opus X, the second Dominican Puro. It had Dominican filler and binder and a sun grown Dominican wrapper. We introduced the cigar in 1997 - mistake number one; the bloom was off the rose and the market was collapsing. Mistake number two: We blended the cigar to my taste - full bodied, since I was a dedicated smoker of Cuban cigars. The market was not ready for a full bodied cigar! Gary J. Arzt and Kevin Godbee discuss the new "Espinoza y Ortega GA Select" cigar over cigars and espresso at Macabi Cigar in Plantation, FL Kevin: In spite of that experience, you're planning to introduce a new cigar in 2009. What's changed? Gary: If Arzt de los Reyes was the mistake; the new cigar might well be the 'accidental' cigar, Kevin. A while back, I asked my friends at Espinoza y Ortega (601, Cubao) to make me several hundred cigars for my personal consumption. I even banded them with a band that had a somewhat famous caricature of me on the band. Kevin: And this the cigar we're talking about? Gary: Yes. The "Espinoza y Ortega GA Select". I gave many of them to friends of mine, tobacconists and others to smoke. The reaction was very positive. Inasmuch as I have time on my hands, I decided to produce the cigar in commercial quantities and market it. Kevin: That's the name of the new cigar? Will EO distribute it? Gary: Yes, that is the name. But, no, Espinoza y Ortega will not distribute it. They have a full plate with the tremendous success of 601 and Cubao. The cigar will be distributed by Gary J. Arzt LLC and we will concentrate initially on Florida. Kevin: Can you tell us the blend? Gary: The cigar is blended with Nicaraguan fillers and binders and an Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper. It will be medium to full bodied depending on the smoker. It’s being made by EO in Esteli. They will come in five sizes and be boxed in boxes of twenty. Kevin: Will this have any effect on your writing? Your commentary about cigars in general? Gary: Certainly not in any journalistic endeavor. As for my column, Kevin, I have always been scrupulous about being fair and unbiased. My column is about what I smoke; where I smoke; who I smoke with, as well as industry news. It will remain so. The fact of the matter is, I probably won’t be able to do as much for the Espinoza y Ortega GA Select, as I have done for many other brands. You, as publisher at , will be the final arbiter of my fairness. Kevin: I certainly wish you luck with this. And, maybe we’ll get some advertising out of you on the web site. (Both laugh)


Kinky Friedman Talks Cigars & Politics at Heroes and Legacies
Monday, 08 December 2008

Cigar smoke and politics hung heavy in the air Thursday night at Heroes and Legacies in South Lubbock, where former gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman was out promoting his new line of cigars. Oh, and there were a few jokes, too. But the famous singer, novelist, politician and humorist couldn't escape the flood of fans who seemingly had one question on their minds: Would Friedman run for governor again? "I sure wouldn't do it again as an independent and I can't afford to do it as a Republican, so I'd have to run as a Democrat," he said. "One thing's for sure. When I die, I want to be cremated and have my ashes thrown in Rick Perry's hair." Friedman's 2006 campaign may not have been strong enough to put the 64-year-old in the governor's chair, but he managed to garner more campaign contributions in Lubbock than any other candidate with 39 percent of the more than $18,000 directly donated to the campaigns. Friedman's visit came a day after Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison announced in Lubbock that she would be looking seriously into running for the Republican primary in 2010. Of Hutchison, Friedman said he's always liked the senator and he would favor her if the race became tight between her and Gov. Perry, though he doesn't believe she'd offer the change he said so many Americans affirmed with the election of Barack Obama. "I don't think Perry's a bad guy, I just think there is a real vacuum of leadership," he said. "I'd love to see a race between (Hutchison) and Perry. That'd be fun." Monte Long, 30, said he came out to meet Friedman because he enjoyed the opportunity to meet someone interesting, not because he associates with his politics. But if Hutchison wins the Republican nomination, Long said he doesn't see the cigar-smoking celebrity having much of a chance of beating the more experienced senator. "It'd be tough," he said. Kathy Clayton, who works in office management, said she voted for Friedman in 2006 and would do it again if given the chance because she believes he could do some good. "He's just down to earth and he's got common sense and I think he's honest," Clayton said. "If he does it again, I think people will know he's serious."


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