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Legendary Jamaican Cigars Make Yet Another Comeback
Monday, 08 December 2008

Jamaica has a history of making great cigars, getting wiped out by hurricanes, and then making comebacks. The Macanudo brand may have been one of the most famous and best selling cigars made in Jamaica, but since around 1998 - 99, no longer contains Jamaican tobacco. In September 1988, Hurricane Gilbert mostly wiped out the Jamaican cigar industry. Production of Royal Jamaica cigars was shifted to the Dominican Republic, and Jamaican tobacco was no longer used in the island's biggest brand, Macanudo. By the mid-90's they built it back up and Macanudo although now produced in The Dominican Republic, had Jamaican tobacco again for a few more years. Besides Royal Jamaica and Macanudo, other brands, such as Crème de Jamaica, Flor de Jamaica, Temple Hall and Palamino became quite popular as well. Joseph Adduci intends to turn back the hands of time by producing cigars with Jamaican tobacco. Of Italian- American decent, he came to Jamaica some fifteen years ago. During that time he has run a 10,000 acre farm, a cable television company, an ice factory and a boutique hotel all in the parish of Westmoreland. He learned how to grow tobacco in Connecticut. He began his tobacco venture in Jamaica two and a half years ago and says that his company is still very much in the research and development stage. At present his company, Adduci Tobacco Limited grows tobacco on 100 acres of land in both Clarendon and Westmoreland, which is attended to by 20 farmers. The company, through its brands Adduci Cigars and King Lion Jamaican Cigars currently exports 900,000 cigars a year. Adduci now wants to expand his operations and is currently looking for partners. "Earlier this week, I had a very productive meeting with James Robertson who is in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and I have signed a letter of intent with the Government. It has expressed an interest in taking a 10 per cent stake in the company together with helping to facilitate 800 acres of land in Caymanas Estates, lands controlled by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC). The government has been gracious enough to offer me a US$5-million line of credit for the development of these lands. "I would like to take this opportunity to thank, James Robertson, Ray Miles, the chairman of Jamaica Trade and invest, Wayne Chen, chairman of the UDC, and Karl Samuda, the minister for industry, investment and commerce for all their help in getting this project off the ground. The lands will house state-of-the-art agricultural, manufacturing and export facilities and capital cost will come to US$50 million in the first year," said Adduci speaking with Caribbean Business Report yesterday from Kingston. The plan is to export to 220 global markets and if Adduci hopes to effectively compete with the likes of Cuba, Nicaragua, Mexico, the Philippines and Honduras he will need capital expenditure of US$250 million over a five-year period. He declared that he intends to hire 3,000 people within the next four years. Both Alexander and John Hamilton who cultivate bamboo for their bamboo furniture company have pledged to provide 200 acres and will come in as equity partners said Adduci. Denis Lalor in his capacity as chairman of Caribbean Basin Investor Limited and the Appliance Trades Limited Pension Fund have expressed an interest in investing in his cigar enterprise, added Adduci. "We now plan to start planting tobacco on the first 200 acres in the next 60 days and hope to export 25 million cigars in our first year of operation." According to Adduci, over one billion cigars were imported into the US market in the first nine months of 2008. Citing figures from the Cigar Association of America, during the same period, he added that 196 million premium cigars were imported into the US, thus making the industry a lucrative one. Adduci Cigars Royal Jamaica Cigars  


La Aurora Radio Station
Monday, 08 December 2008

Rene Castaneda, Sales Director of Miami Cigar & Company contacted us about the new online radio station from La Aurora. Miami Cigar is the US distributor and marketing arm for La Aurora, Don Lino, Felipe Gregorio and many other well-known national brands of cigars. The web site is in Spanish and the music is on the very mellow and relaxing side. There are old recordings of classics, classical and jazz with a feel for "the good ole days" when America prospered and ruled the world. The music, with it's old radio sound is as relaxing as taking a Valium, with no prescription required - and I mean that in a good way. If you're in a partying, get-wild, let's dance sort of mood, then go elsewhere. However, if you would like a nice relaxed feeling to be transported back to simpler times, then check out the La Aurora Radio Station. La Aurora Radio Station Website La Aurora Radio Station Music Link


Rapper Mista Swissher Sweet Sued by Swisher Sweets Cigar Maker
Monday, 08 December 2008

The artist formerly known as Mista Swissher Sweet needs a new stage name. Jontae Green, an Austell rapper, said this week that he will drop his old moniker after being sued by Swisher International, which bills itself as the world's largest cigar maker. Swisher says Swissher shouldn't have used the brand's name and logos on his Web site and in album art for his iTunes single, "Jump Around." The lawsuit, filed in federal court last week, accuses Green of trademark infringement and says he broke laws that protect businesses from commercial copycats. Green, 26, said he wasn't trying to irritate Swisher. He said he took the name because it was his brother's cigar of choice. His brother died of cancer years ago. Green said he doesn't blame the cigar company for that, although he knows smoking can cause cancer. He said he'll stop using the name and will remove its red-and-white logo and signature shield from his Web site and other materials. "It ain't no big deal," Green said. "The streets already know me as Swissher. I can just put my face on a CD cover and they know who it is." Lloyd Farr, an Atlanta attorney representing Jacksonville-based Swisher, said Friday that the company is obligated to protect its intellectual property by policing its mark. As far as resolving the lawsuit, that's something the company will have to work out with Green, Farr said. "Certainly we're happy that he's pulling down the Web site and changing his name," he said. In the lawsuit, Swisher asks for any profits Green realized because of the alleged trademark infringement, and seeks damages of $100,000 or more. It asks the court to order Green to destroy any products that bear the Swisher name or logo and transfer the domain name to Swisher. Green runs his own independent record label, Farbetter Records, as well as a recording studio and retail store in Austell. He said he'd like to work with Swisher, which he said could gain from endorsing him. He noted that Swisher is often used by people who fill the cigar wrapper with marijuana to make "blunts." "I can go on the radio and tell them to support Swisher by going to," he said. "The sales are going to be phenomenal." Green said he's talked to Swisher's lawyers, and has agreed to hand over proceeds from "Jump Around." But the domain name they'll have to pay for, he said (his asking price is $22,000). And he said Swisher won't have much luck with the damages. "If they want $100,000, they can't get it from me," he said. "I don't have $100,000."


Recession Not Effecting Business at Chicago Smoke Shop Iwan Ries & Co.
Friday, 05 December 2008

The sour economy has made it difficult for many privately-owned businesses to survive, but Chicago smoke shop Iwan Ries & Co., a fixture in the Loop, is doing just fine because it caters to a dedicated customer base with habits hard to break. Through five generations of tobacconists, family-owned Iwan Ries has been selling both luxury and mass brands of tobacco products for 152 years and it intends to continue its legacy through the recession. “They’ve been in business since like 1856, since the oldies,” said a customer, 35-year-old Darren Smith of Chicago. “Five generations of business in Chicago. I like dealing with people who have been in business for a long time. They know what they are doing and they are pretty courteous, too.” The store, appropriately, is in a two-story building that's one of the oldest standing designs of famous Chicago architects Adler and Sullivan. According to Chuck Levi, the fourth generation owner, the company has never been more than five blocks from its current location at 19 S. Wabash St., between Madison and Monroe, and it has only 10 employees, three of whom are family members. “We’ve always been in the Loop through all the depressions, wars and problems," Levi said. "We’ve managed to survive.” Asked how hard the business has been hit by the recession, Levi said with a smile, “We’re doing alright.” The shop sells out more than half its inventory of cigars and most tobaccos during the course of a year. Due to the loyalty of regular customers, most of whom Levi knows by name and spending habits, the business is able to survive through almost any adversity. “I hate to say it, but the truth is when the economy is not doing so good, people tend to drink and smoke more," Levi explained. "People are uptight for a thousand different reasons and cigars and pipes tend to be obviously relaxing. And at the end of a very bad day or a hectic day, they relax with a cocktail and cigar, or a cigar without the cocktail.” While the store also sells an assortment of cigarettes, it has a larger variety of cigars and pipes. Levi said there are 900 boxes of cigars and 12,000 pipes in inventory -- with 2,000 pipes on display at a time. “We have more pipes on one wall than many stores carry. We probably have 70 drawers of pipes and every drawer holds 24 to 30 pipes.” The pipes, Levi said, have the slowest turnover rate in the store. If properly stored, cigars can last indefinitely, but in the shop, as cigars are sold, the inventory is refreshed every couple of months. Tobacco is usually turned over every 60 days, but some has a shelf life of only about two weeks. Levi said that's partly because more smokers are rolling their own cigarettes. The pipes, on the other hand, have a far slower turnover rate. On average they turn every nine months. “Most [stores] aren’t going to invest in the inventory and in the slow turnover that we do, but we’re used to it,” Levi said. “Even our accountant thinks we’re crazy, but the fast turnover in cigars and tobacco allows us to afford the slow turnover in pipes.” The pipes range from simple corncobs priced at $3.50 up to $1500. Cigars range widely, too, from $1 to $35. Levi said the shop tries to cater to every customer’s needs. “We’re a full-service store. We want to have whatever it is [the customer] wants to smoke,” he said. “We don’t want to tell them, ‘you can’t smoke that because we don’t think that’s good quality.’ If you think it’s good quality, it’s good quality.” Iwan Ries has customers all over the world. During the interview with Levi, a man from Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates called to place an order, as did two gentlemen from Italy. The store's merchandise is international, too. Much of the inventory comes from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Honduras, all purchased wholesale from importers. The clientele may seem elite, but the shop also has a solid local base that keeps coming back. On the popular venue-rating Web site, Iwan Ries is a favorite among many Chicagoans, including Andy M. “This place is wonderful. It is located in a wonderful old building on Wabash,” he wrote. “It is a luxurious décor that makes you feel like you have walked back in time. I actually expected to see Winston Churchill hanging out in one of the humidors. But, this is not a place to go if you are working on a budget. The prices are quite high, but if you enjoy lighting up a good cigar, this is a smokers’ playground.” Smith, the 35-year-old customer, handles real estate and construction bids for a living and said with the market the way it is, he tries to scrimp and save wherever he can. “I smoke Newports, but I choose to make my own cigarettes,” he said. At the time, Smith was buying a cigarette-packing and rolling machine for a friend. “He was mocking me for making my own but I have the machine and all the tools and tobacco to cut down on prices.” Despite a contracting economy, Smith says, he'll continue to make his own cigarettes and buy other tobacco products from Iwan Ries. “I spend between $85 and $100 a month in purchases. Smoking cigarettes, buying them in Indiana, I would spend between $120 and $150 a month.” The addictive nature of tobacco is a tough habit to break and one that most people will not sacrifice regardless of the economy, according to Morningstar Inc. analyst Philip Gorham. Gorham covers publically traded tobacco companies that specialize in cigarettes, but he says the trend in cigarettes is likely similar in the more luxury, high-end cigar and pipe business. “We don’t say any company is recession-proof. We expect some sort of negative impact on tobacco companies’ top lines in the coming quarter,” he said. “But, the addictive nature of the product and the immense brand loyalty in this base contributes to a kind of relative strength in these downturns.” While Gorham doubts that anyone will be eager to buy one of Iwan Ries’s $500 pipes, he said there is a sort of resiliency in the industry that will help the company survive. Still, Levi contends that a wide range of price points promotes stability in his business and will keep his customers happy and smoking.


Cigar Rights of America Names Executive Director
Friday, 05 December 2008

Cigar Rights of America, the consumer driven organization created to fight for the rights of cigar smokers, has named Glynn Loope as its Executive Director. J. Glynn Loope with Rocky Patel Having previously named a Membership Director, Brian Berman, upgraded their web site and completed the first leg of the Freedom Tour (From NYC to Minneapolis to Milwaukee, Chicago and ending in Orlando), the organization - the best chance we, as smokers, have to fight back in an organized fashion - is ready to roll! Last week I met with Litto Gomez, of La Flor Dominicana, in his office and he happened to mention the forthcoming appointment. Gomez has been very involved in all aspects of the founding of the organization, and was one of the members that vetted several prospective Executive Directors, before zeroing in on Loope. Loope is the head of Commonwealth Advance LLC, based in Covington, VA, a government relations/economic development consultants that has had serious experience dealing with the same prohibitive measures that CRA seeks to address. Most recently, he represented the Cigar Association of Virginia since 2006 when he was involved in seeking to mitigate another set of proposed draconian measures that would have adversely affected cigar smokers and tobacconists in that state. His involvement with the tobacconists came as a result of his frequenting a tobacconist in Roanoke, VA - Milan’, which is approaching 100 years old - that is adjacent to an excellent steakhouse, Frankie Rowland's. They asked Loope to help fight the first anti-smoking legislation introduced in the Virginia General Assembly. Out of that effort he developed his own passions, not the least of which is clear when he states, "The nanny government has gotten out of control. We don’t need the government to tell us how to lead our lives." Glynn Loope feels that " ... in the political arena the smoking bans are a diversionary tactic, designed to obscure the fact that politicians do nothing about the serious issues of education, security, etc." We spoke today, when the CRA Board voted to confirm his appointment, to get his vision for CRA and he quickly laid out several points that were to be addressed forthwith: • Setting up an office in Washington, DC or Northern Virginia • Meeting with Legal Counsel • Meeting with Brian Berman, the Membership Director, with regard to rapidly increasing membership • Fund Raising: Glynn says CRA need "seven figures" to be able to do the job required • Working out a political strategy, which includes partnering with other trade associations and groups that have extensive experience in dealing with legislatures at every level to protect their industry's well being. In a brief forty-five minute conversation, Loope easily conveyed his enthusiasm; his mastery of the subject; and his dedication to getting the job done. Kudos to the CRA Board for their selection of Glynn Loope. In the October issue of Smoke Shop magazine, Loope wrote an article discussing the prospects of tobacco in the forthcoming election. His commentary was very salient and realistic in his discussion of the SCHIPS and FDA issues you can see it here.   Cigar Rights of America - Join Now!


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