Written by Gary J. Arzt

Sunday, 01 March 2009

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industry updates

ProCigar Festival '09 (16 thru 21 February), held in La Romana and Santiago, Dominican Republic was fantastic. With attendees from all over the world, it was the quintessential cigar event. While I missed the first two (2) days at La Romana, I did arrive in Santiago Wednesday, the 18th.

At the closing dinner on Friday evening, in the presence of the six (6) iconic cigar makers that founded Pro Cigar (Henkie Kelner, Guillermo Leon, Jose Seijas, Daniel Nunez, Manuel Quesada and Jean Clement) it occurred to me that we have seen neither hide nor hair of any of the "luminaries" of the boom. Where are they now? Tony Borhani (Borhani and Bahia) Lars Tetens, of eponymous cigars, Kevin Doyle (Caribbean Cigar Co.), Abraham Shafir (Tamboril cigars), Don Douglas Pueringer (at one point Borhani's partner).

As I have filed a separate report on the Festival, I'll end my comments at this point.

Further to S-CHIP, which is now a fait accompli, is still beyond comprehension! What's beyond comprehension is

•    That the media - not us - still repeat the canard that the increase in cost will be paid for by an increase in the cigarette tax. Nary a word about the increased tax on cigars.
•    That it increased coverage by raising the age of the 'children' covered from 18 to 25. Twenty-five (25) year old children? In families with an $80,000 annual income: is that now the poverty line?
•    And, alas, like any tax it is only the thin edge of the wage. The tax is here and when they need more money for SCHIP, or anything else; they can increase the tax - a much easier thing to do than impose a new tax.

When the SCHIP battle started, Cigar Rights of America did not exist. Nonetheless, the progenitors of the organization, mostly the cigar manufacturers, did yeoman's work in mitigating what could have been a horrendous burden that would have caused manufacturers to go out of business; tobacconists to close; and many of us unable to afford the pleasure we have enjoyed.

It now falls to Cigar Rights of America to carry-on the effort to protect us all from further incursions on our rights and freedoms.

So, once again, I have to tell you it is the best $35.00 you will ever invest and you must join and join quickly. Only by having a considerable fund can CRA ( influence the course of events.

Remember this, most Congresspersons and/or Senators have very malleable opinions on most subjects. Unless they are Evangelical Christians or devout Roman Catholics, they really have no position on abortion; such is the case with most subjects when it comes to enacting 'prohibitions' or bans. Rather, their positions are provided to them by lobbyists bearing political campaign contributions, and they adopt the suggested position.

It is not something they talk about, and it doesn't go down quite like a drug deal, but it is shoddy. Be that as it may, it is being done by pharmaceutical companies, energy companies, telephone companies, auto companies - you can continue the list.

Hence, we need to provide the CRA with the money to be influential. And, we have to continue to be heard, whenever the 'call to arms' is issued regarding a particular regulation or piece of legislation.

The effect of a significant, eleventh hour e-mail campaign, on the City of Long Beach, CA, not only caused the vote to come down in our favour, but one of the Councilpersons commented, during the deliberations (which is a polite description of the mayhem going on in the Council chamber), that she had received, "...e-mails from all over the country and Europe!" 

The vote, permitting smoke in cigar lounges, of all things, was concluded at 2:00 AM EST.

For those of you who may wonder about the quotation that ends each column, I started to do it when I was in print, instead of pixels. The first one I used was from my friend, Alex Anton of Miami, to wit: "Tell me what you smoke and I'll tell you who you are."

"A good cigar is always an unconditional friend, willing to join you any time of your life. Loyal, consistent, balanced." Henkie Kelner at the Pro Cigar Festival 2009, in Santiago, D.R., in February.


0 # Masonic Symbols in Cigar Art Eddie Garcia 2009-03-01 08:03
It is very interesting to get some history in all your writings. The Masonic topic, as it relates to cigars and the art on their boxes is of particular interest to me. I understand that sources on this subject are hard to come by, but I will try to gather some more information and forward it to you.

Always your friend,
Eddie Garcia

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