New York Delays ‘Low-Ignition’ Cigarette Law

Albany, NY - Implementation of a law mandating that only “fire-safe” cigarettes be sold in New York has been postponed 60 days, following an aborted two-year delay, which was buried in the State budget and hastily reversed in January. New York Gov. George Pataki’s budget had sought to postpone the nation’s first “fire-safe” cigarette law which, when combined with higher cigarette taxes, could give New Yorkers “an added incentive’ to bootleg or purchase cigarettes over the Internet, according to the $90 billion budget. Health, public policy, and safety advocates reacted angrily, and the two-year delay was rescinded and blamed on “staff error.”

Administration officials then pushed back the deadline of a 45-day public comment period by 60 days, only days before the original February 15 deadline. The law, which was to have been implemented by July 1, takes effect 180 days after the final rule is published, and must consider all public and industry comments made during the comment period.

Philip Morris said it sought a 30-day extension because of the complexities of the law. “We are certainly supportive of the standards and are offering up our comments,” said a company spokesman. Philip Morris has previously supported a national fire-safe standard.

The law, enacted in 2000, is the first time the tobacco industry has faced such fire-safety regulation. It would force tobacco companies to produce cigarettes wrapped in paper that burns at lower temperatures and will self-extinguish on their own if left unattended.

Imperial Tobacco of Canada said it would pull its brands, including Player’s and du Maurer, from New York rather than comply.

Zippo Trademarks Shape of Lighters
Retailers Must Clear Shelves of Knock-Offs by June 30

Bradford, PA - Zippo Manufacturing Company has been granted trademark protection for the shape of its well-known Zippo windproof lighter. The trademark was granted in the fall of 2002.

As a result of the ruling, Zippo is informing wholesalers and retailers by mail and through trade advertisements that they have until June 30, 2003, to remove “imitation” lighters from their shelves.

“Infringing lighters have misled consumers and cost Zippo, authorized distributors, and retailers millions of dollars in lost profits over the years,” said George Duke, third-generation owner of Zippo Manufacturing Company. “We have invested significant money to promote our high-quality products and build a globally recognized brand. We will aggressively protect this trademark by using our legal right to stop the manufacturing of infringing products and to seize any knockoffs remaining at wholesalers or on retail shelves after June 30, 2003.”

Suppliers may ensure that they are ordering and carrying genuine Zippo lighters by ordering from a Zippo sales representative. Retailers should ensure that they are ordering from an authorized Zippo supplier. Mike Martin, vice president of sales for Zippo, says it’s important that retailers understand that just because a lighter looks like a Zippo lighter doesn’t mean that it is.

“The whole premise of infringing lighters is that the knockoff, at first glance, may look to be a genuine Zippo lighter. Authentic Zippo lighters carry the Zippo logo stamped on the bottom and the Zippo trademark stamped on the lighter insert. Each lighter is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity that carries the famous Zippo Lifetime Guarantee,” said Martin. “We strongly encourage all retailers who have or continue to carry knockoffs of our lighter to comply with our legally protected trademark.”

If a retailer is unsure as to whether the lighters they are carrying infringe any of Zippo’s trademarks, they may send one to Zippo Manufacturing Company for a free assessment. Lighters should be sent to: Mike Martin, vice president of sales, Zippo Manufacturing Company, 33 Barbour Street, Bradford, Pa. 16701. Retailers who presently do not carry Zippo lighters can contact the company at 1-814-368-2700 to obtain the name of an authorized Zippo supplier.

Heavenly Hummer Hits Highways in Florida Tour

In October 2002, Heavenly Cigar Company took delivery of a bright yellow 2003 H2 Hummer, emblazoned it with company graphics, and immediately hit the highway, in support of several tobacconists’ promotions across Florida. Since then, a flight of up to seven Heaven’s Angels, including c.e.o. Heather L. Phillips, has cruised the length of Florida, from Key West to Tampa to New Port Richey, to star at store openings, tastings, and the Offshore World Championship Powerboat Races.

The high-profile vehicle is more than eye-catching, especially when loaded with Heavenly Angels. “People from all over, who saw our phone number on the Hummer, call to ask where they can get Heavenly flavored premium cigars. Of course, we direct them to our retailers.”

Tim Lynch, of Tampa’s Excalibur Martini Bar, says Heaven cigars were the focal point of their recent cigar and martini tasting, and adds, “Just seeing the Hummer in the parking lot brought curious smokers to the door…the Angels, in evening dresses and feathered wings, pulled them in like magnets. We want them back for our Valentine’s Day event…they’re naturals for it.”

Jim Vaughn, manager at Tropical Republic Fine Cigars, in Key West, says, “We were happy to have them in our store. They and the Hummer were a real attraction. Guys couldn’t pass by without coming in to meet them.”

Retailers interested in scheduling a visit by the Heavenly Hummer and Angels should contact the company’s events coordinator at (800) 647-8196, Fax (239) 262-0141.

Macanudo Hosts Sweep­stakes Winners in Vegas

The Macanudo American Passion Tour continued its 30,000 mile cross-country journey to Las Vegas in November, where it hosted the winners of the Macanudo “Trip to Las Vegas” sweepstakes. Randomly selected out of more than 29,000 consumers, Joseph Fusco, Jr. of Grand Island, NY and Richard Carter of Federal Way, Wa. were the winners of the sweepstakes for which entries were distributed along the route of the Macanudo American Passion Tour, as well as on the website -www.cigarworld.com.

The winners enjoyed round trip airfare for two to Las Vegas, deluxe accommodations at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel, a special dinner at Smith & Wollensky, attendance at the Big Smoke, a guided tour of Las Vegas aboard the Macanudo American Passion Tour Traveling Cigar Lounge, and spending money.

“What a way to see Las Vegas,” said Joseph Fusco, who brought along his wife Nancy. “Touring Las Vegas from a stylish cigar lounge is an experience that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.” Fusco entered the sweepstakes while visiting the Macanudo American Passion Tour at his local retailer, the Tinder Box in Williamsville, NY.

So Long ITE, Hello NATO Expo

A settlement between Bentley Group, owner of the seven-year-old International Tobacco Expo (ITE), and the NATO Conference & Exposition, a startup tobacco trade show that was announced last summer, was reached in December. A single show will be held on March 26-27, 2003 at the Rio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, ending months of legal wrangling.

The owners of NATO Expo, a joint program of Tobacco Outlet Magazine and National Association of Tobacco Outlets (N.A.T.O.), had been in negotiations with ITE’s owners in 2001 to purchase the show, but no agreement was reached at that time. In July 2002, the competing NATO trade show was announced, scheduled for the same dates as ITE 2003. After ITE’s longtime show manager joined the startup, litigation began. Would-be exhibitors and attendees were left meanwhile, scratched their heads attempting to figure out what to do.

In late December, a settlement was reached: Bentley was selling the ITE show to the NATO organizers. “With the best interest of the tobacco industry in mind, the International Tobacco Expo and the NATO Conference & Expo have come to a mutual agreement to combine our shows,” read a statement from Bentley. “I have very mixed emotions,” added Pat Witherspoon, president of Bentley Group, “but we felt this would be in the industry’s best interests.”

The ITE show debuted in 1997 as the International Cigar Expo during a retail cigar boom that had left new and established retailers alike scurrying for merchandise. When the boom turned to glut, Bentley refocused the event as a tobacco expo rather than a cigar expo, broadening its appeal and tapping into the emerging tobacco outlet segment. ITE grew considerably under the new format, achieving solid participation by major industry cigarette manufacturers and mass market cigar companies, as well as smaller boutique firms.

SMOKESHOP - February, 2003