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April/
May 2000

RETAILER & TOBACCO INDUSTRY NEWS

JR Cigars Takes Reservations for Domestic Sales of Cuban Cigars

WIPPANY, NJ - 800-JR Cigar, Inc., has begun taking "reservations" for the domestic sale of Cuban cigars, announcing that it is "in an enviable position to receive the first legal shipment of Havanas upon the cessation of the embargo," including Romeo y Julieta, Bolivar, Belinda, and El Rey del Mundo.

"This is an insurance policy to guarantee that our longtime customers are not shut out in the mad rush for merchandise that will ensue the moment the Cuban Embargo ends," explained Lew Rothman, president and c.e.o., and the creator of the program. "All our customers may not avail themselves of this opportunity, but at least we at JR will know that we have extended the offer to them."

Cuban cigars have been illegal in the United States since the early 1960ís. Since there has never been an overabundance of these prized cigars, many believe that the opening of the U.S. market after a lapse of almost 40 years will cause a world-wide shortage of Cubaís best known cigar trademarks.

Despite the lack of any concrete signs that a lifting of the embargo is eminent, JR Cigar began taking the reservations in March, in a bid to give its existing customers an opportunity to secure Havanas and avoid what it believes will be hysteria that will ensue in the days following the lifting of the embargo.

For $200 per box, with a limit of four per person, JR customers can place their name on a waiting list to receive their favorite Cuban cigars. Customers will be notified of the arrival of the cigars and the selection available in the same order that their reservations were received.


Holtís Launches e-Commerce Site

PHILADELPHIA, PA - Holtís Cigar Holdings, Inc., a major mail order premium cigar catalog operator, has tossed its hat into the online arena, with a new e-commerce site.

The site, which opened February 15th, allows cigar consumers to securely purchase from over 150 brands of premium cigars and smoking accessories. Holtís Value Plus Point program, which allows repeat customers to earn awards that can be redeemed for free merchandise, is a unique feature among cigar sites. "The goal has been to create a convenient, easy-to-use online service for the growing segment of cigar consumers who enjoy purchasing goods through the Internet," said Robert Levin, president. "We believe we have the best customer service in the industry with our mail order, retail, and wholesale divisions, and the new e-commerce site gives us another opportunity to provide superior service and availability to our customers."

Trifecta Technologies, Allentown, Pa., helped design, develop, and implement the e-commerce solution, which is based on IBM RS/6000 hardware and software solutions.


Massachusetts Tobacco Advertising Rules Donít Apply to Internet

BOSTON, MA - A Massachusetts Federal Court has ruled that imposing Massachusetts state regulations on tobacco advertising on the Internet would burden interstate commerce, even though most of the new tobacco and cigar regulations were considered within the authority of the Massachusetts Attorney General. The regulations, which went into effect February 1st, prohibit advertisements visible from areas likely to be frequented by minors.

After expressing "concerns that the Cigar Regulations, as they are written, might apply impermissibly to national magazines available for purchase in Massachusetts, or to the Internet," Chief Judge William G. Young concluded that such a construction of the regulations would burden interstate commerce.


Custom Samplers: No Ziplock, Please

A Little Taste of Cuba, Princeton, N.J., has designed a gift pack and sampler service where the customer can create an individualized selection from the retailerís humidor. Shoppers have a choice of three brands in every "Havana Sampler," (no, they are not Cuban) and the store selects the sizes according to availability. Not to be confused with clearance table grab bags, these cigars are guaranteed to be fresh and high quality, and are promoted as a great way for customers to try cigars theyíve never had or to give as gifts. Each sampler is packaged in a genuine cigar box and includes elegant gift matches and mints. Three price points are offered -$35, $45, and $55, with 4, 6, or 8 cigars respectively - which includes shipping for web orders. Customers select three brands from Avo, Ashton, Cojimar, Bahia, Butera, Don Rene, Felipe Gregorio, Griffins, Padron, Paul Garmirian, Purofino Blue Label, and Zino.


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