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  • Writer's pictureBen Balliro

The Age of Hypocrisy

In an age of controversial politics and scandalous leaders it’s a relief that at least our culture of the cigar industry has retained it’s integrity and stayed true to themselves ...or has it?

It seems like every time I read some news about the cigar industry, aside from the lamentations of fighting the FDA, cigar manufactures are distributing a new line or brand that is a subsidiary of a parent company. I’ll give you an example; In October of 2014 everyone’s ears perked up like a Doberman when Jonathan Drew of Drew Estate Cigars [maker of some of the highest quality cigars on the market such as Liga Privada and Undercrown] sold to Swisher International; a conglomerate of multiple products including Swisher Sweet cigarillos and Redwood chewing tobacco. (I.e. non premium cigars).

I’m reading online about how Ventura Cigars is releasing a line extension of their successful Archetype cigars. It’s a miniseries called Fantasy which is basically three robustos that have different wrappers and different flavors profiles. So far everything sounds good, but because I am curious I do a couple of minutes of research about the company. I want to know how a company behaves and connects with the public. As I’m reading, I see that Ventura Cigars is a subsidiary under the parent company Kretek International. I was like, “who the heck is Kretek International and why are they the parent company of premium cigars?”. It turns out that Kretek International is a conglomerate that owns multiple, you guessed it, non premium cigar brands such as; VooDoo (they make hookahs, vaporizers and e-liquid), Cannidips (CDC Products), and Tajmahal (bidi in India) and Djarum (clove cigarillos) I’m thinking to myself, “What the hell do Archetype premium cigars have to do with these other guys?”. I have nothing against any of these brands or their products, it just shouldn’t be mixed with premium cigars if we are going to ask for exemption from regulation taxes.

We have been pleading and arguing with big tobacco and the FDA in Congress and the Senate to please not fine our precious industry because we are different from other tobacco products. How can we defend premium cigars to be exempt from FDA regulations when our premium cigar brands are owned by the same synthetic companies? We lose credibility and trust with the public and private sectors and we look like hypocrites. Have they become so blinded to monetary greed that they ignore how they represent the rest of us? Quite honestly I don’t know why the FDA should have to fight us in the courtroom at all when they can just buy us out. Since it appears that Nat Sherman, Jonathan Drew, and now Ventura Cigars are making it just that much more difficult to fight for our cause.

Look, if you want to sell out to big tobacco conglomerates that’s fine. Just don’t represent us, the actual premium cigar industry, in your contract buyouts. I don’t want these greedy big tobacco pigs putting a premium cigar label under their umbrella. It’s shameful, its misrepresenting, and it’s losing our leverage in the courtroom. What are your thoughts on this subject, do you think premium cigar industry brands should be a subsidiary of a non premium tobacco company?

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