Punch Exclusive Asia Pacifico
2006 Punch Super Robusto RE Asia Pacifico – 6.1”x50 – As we’ve discussed numerously, the Regional Edition releases have been a successful gimmick from Habanos SA. This vitola, popularized in basic format by the Cohiba Siglo VI in 2002/03, is one of the first large ring releases in the punch line. The line benefits from the added girth by bringing brown sugar & a little citrus to the typically tangy, almost whiskey-like spicy characteristics of the basic punch line. A classic performer and a standout in the already premium RE releases. A classic in the future.
- Since the last episode, I’m sure we all celebrated “World No-Tobacco Day.” I know I did, with a couple cigars of which I chose to rid the planet in a series of very small fires. The United Nations took advantage of the occasion to advocate for plain packaging laws around the world. For those not familiar, these are the laws we talked about long ago in Australia – which essentially eliminate characteristic packaging on tobacco products. Boxes of cigars must be presented in basic, drab colors with little or nothing besides text identifying them as such (except in some cases, graphic depictions of tumors, etc.). The established standard “entails restricting or prohibiting the use of logos, colours, brand images or any promotional information other than brand and product names displayed in a standard colour and font.” U.N. thinking asserts that this lowers the demand for the product, and supports the goal of elimination from the marketplace. An official in a un.org article claims the laws have reduced the number of smokers in Australia by 100,000 in 34 months. How these folks continue to tout the huge drops in numbers of smokers while concurrently claiming rates of smoking commencement are at all time highs is beyond me. The aforementioned article concludes with a quote from the WHO Director General: ““On this World No Tobacco Day, we are telling the world to get ready for even more comprehensive tobacco control.” Brace yourselves, fellow cigar smokers….especially those in Canada and the U.S. You’re next in line for new legislation, including plain packaging proposal.
- Those of you who enjoy a good flavored cigars have dodged a nearer bullet. As outlined by the CSP Daily News, a site dedicated to convenient stores and their sales, the original proposal of the new FDA regulation would have almost immediately killed off many or most flavored cigars – with a 90 day limit on the approval/substantial equivalence process. If you enjoy these cigars, be ye forewarned: they’re in the forefront of regulatory sights. Even though the original language was stricken, there was a phrase included that declared a longer goal to “eliminate characterizing flavors in all cigars including cigarillos and little cigars.”
- Yesterday, Enrique Sanchez of 1502/Global Premium Cigars filed what I believe is the first lawsuit spawned from the recent FDA regulations within the premium cigar industry. There are a number of subtleties, but two overarching allegations in the suit:
- GPC claims the FDA is infringing upon First Amendment rights with the labeling requirements. The claim is that a.) the government has not provided any evidence that these labels are protective of public health and b.) the warning labels impede First Amendment rights by hindering the manufacturer’s ability “to communicate with the public through packaging, advertising, and intellectual property.”
- Secondly, the suit claims violation of Fifth Amendment rights. A clause in the amendment forbids the government from seizing property without just compensation. The claim is that the space to be occupied by labeling requirements on boxes and advertising materials has been unjustly seized without compensation. Additionally in this section, a claim is made that the February 15, 2007 grandfather date is arbitrary.
- It is also claimed that the provided pathway to approval is flawed and unlawful – in essence that no cigar maker would pursue the approval process for post-Feb 2007 products if they can’t show substantial equivalence due to the cost. Substantial equivalence procedure, according to FDA estimates, would run in tens of thousands of dollars…while the alternative to introducing a product will likely be hundreds of thousands.
- As I mentioned, there are quite a few other intricacies with the suit. I will try to post a link to the info on our forum this week. During an FDA webinar last week, some guidance on the intent for the samples ban was provided. For now, at least informally, promos with purchase are safe. The simple giving of a sample is what will be prohibited. Making purchase to gain additional cigars would seemingly be allowed. No more samples from reps to shop customers, etc. though.
What Else We’ve Been Smoking
- Partagas Serie du Connoisseur #1 – Much of this box has been a letdown. This cigar was not. Full, rich, spicy, everything a partagas should be. It’s always interesting to me when nearly every cigar from a box is average, then at #23 or 24 you finally get a gem. Did it just need 10 years of box time? Was it the only one with high quality tobacco in it? The world may never know…
- Punch Lunch Club – These are an old Dogwatch favorite. While noticeably youthful, the flavors are there. This just goes to show that the big boys do have some mighty tasty tobacco…
- Pretty run of the mill past couple weeks for me. Actually not much stuck out aside from a Ramon Allones (robusto?) and its uncharacteristic flavors…peat. Peat-fired malted barley. Weird…