I went to my favourite cigar shop today to pick up a few ‘supplies’. My football team Christmas party is on Wednesday and there are a few of us who enjoy a good smoke after our obligatory curry.
Norman Stein of the Bogart’s House of Fine Cigars and Tobacco* is a lovely chap and he always sorts me out with some lovely cigars.
Today, though, Norman wasn’t looking quite so chipper. And I could see why. Ever since the Australian government introduced ‘plain packaging’ on all tobacco products, Norman’s stock – as he put it “looks more like ammunition than cigars.”
He jokes, but he’s got a point. Where once sat the colourful majestic bands of Cuaba and Hoyo de Monterrey or the elegant sleekness of Montecristo and Cohiba, now bland brown stickers line up looking like a minimalist interpretation of miserable vegan shop labels. Or like Norman said, a range of brown large calibre bullets.
*Bogarts House of Fine Cigars is sadly no longer. Norm had to close this wonderful shop as a result of a huge downturn in sales. He blamed a lot of that on 2 moves by the Australian Government:
1. Plain packaging on cigars meant the people coming into his shop to buy a gift could no longer see the beautiful collars on the cigars, which stopped that kind of purchase.
2. Smoking laws, which I actually think are great, have made finding public venues very difficult for cigar smokers.
I asked him if he’d noticed an impact on custom:
“Not for my regulars but for some people – people buying cigars as gifts – they often choose on the colourful bands. People can’t do that now.”
It’s a sad tale, but they still smoke the same – and we should take stock in that. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the lovelies I bought for me and my mates later this week. Check them out:
[Left to right – Montecristo No.5 (Cuba), 2x Bucanero Boxpress Robusto (Nicaragua), Macanudo Marduro Robusto (Cuba), 3x Dona Flor robusto x3 (Brazil)]
What do you think of the new plain packaging rules on cigars? Will they do any good or are they just taking away a tradition?