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April 1999
Volume 26
Number 2

RETAILER & TOBACCO INDUSTRY NEWS (cont.)

Starr, Clinton, Lewinsky...Hacker?
Did a popular cigar book provide the inspiration that unzipped President Clinton's alleged sexcapade with a stogie? Maybe. Along with everything else contained in independent counsel Kenneth Starr's report, Richard Carleton Hacker's The Ultimate Cigar Book was found in President Clinton's Oval Office library.

Published by Autumngold, the book is listed in the Starr Report among the inventory of Oval Office books, found on page 27 of the Prosecutor's "Catalog of Books in the West Wing Presidential Study."

Commented the author, "Although the book admonishes readers not to inhale - a practice the President admittedly followed - it preaches moderation in all things pertaining to cigars. That may be a chapter the president has yet to read."

British Royals Pull Tobacco Seal
Great Britain's royals have withdrawn their seal of approval from all Gallaher Ltd. products, including Benson & Hedges cigarettes.

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said that Gallaher had until the end of the year to remove Queen Elizabeth II's coat of arms from all of its packaging, ending 122 years of Gallaher products sporting the royal logo. The royal seal of approval is given to goods supplied to royal households for at least three years, and these warrants are reviewed each December by royal officials. "The granting of the royal warrant is a matter for the royal household," Gallaher commented in a statement. "Beyond that, we do not wish to comment." Reportedly, Prince Charles sternly disapproves of smoking, and has persuaded his long-time companion Camilla Parker Bowles to kick the habit.

Secret Agent James Bond has smoked his last cigarette. While his hand-made fags were as much a part of 007's persona as his shaken martinis, Beretta pistol, and flashy sportscars, film bosses figured it was wise to have him kick the habit. In addition, Bond's new BMW will have a No Smoking sign on the dashboard in his next movie, "The World is Not Enough," which is currently being filmed. Bond fans are not to worry that 007 has gone soft, though. Commented one film insider, "I don't think he will be giving up his interest in champagne and beautiful women just yet."


La Perla Habana Debuts Dealer Incentives Program for Retailers
La Perla Habana Cigars has introduced "La Perla Partners," a comprehensive package of incentives for tobacconists.

"In addition to a keystone-based discount schedule," explains company president Doug Wood, "we offer tobacconists a free box of Toros - our highest rated cigar - for every five boxes purchased. This is equivalent to a 58.3% total discount." The line's suggested retail prices range from $3.95 to $6.25, which positions them in the fast-moving mid-priced category.

Wood says the company provides free links from its Internet site to the sites of smoke shop "Partners" who carry La Perla Habana cigars. "Cigar buyers on the Internet often post messages asking where they can find our cigars," he says. "These links stimulate sales for our participating retailers."

"La Perla Habana Cigars actively encourages smoke shops to take advantage of our in-store promotions," says Wood, "as well as cigar dinners, golf tournaments, celebrity and charity events, and other event packages." A nationwide network of distributors and sales representatives augments the company in supporting dealers.

La Perla Habana Cigars has launched a year-long national advertising campaign, to ensure customers will be asking smokeshops for the cigars. The ads feature the stone-lithographed turn-of-the-Century Havana box label, and highlight the magazine ratings.

"The leading cigar publications have awarded La Perla Habana cigars some of their highest ratings ever," says Wood. "Smokers and retailers have discovered their extraordinary value, and they are becoming as sought-after as the best-known national brands. Our new 'La Perla Partners' dealer incentives program makes the 'Pearl of Havana' even more appealing for smoke shops."

The Dominican factory of Cuevas y Hermanos, owned and operated by third-generation Cuban cigar masters, produces seven shapes of La Perla Habanas. Six sizes of parejos span from the 4" x 40 Perla to the 7" x 52 Double Corona; a 6" x 52 Figurado rounds out the line. The wrapper is Javanese and the binder is Indonesian besuki. The filler is a three-leaf blend of Piloto Cubano Dominican seco and robust ligero leaf. The colorado maduro wrapper dates back to the 1994 harvest, and the binder and filler are two years old. Finished cigars are aged another year. The result is an unusually refined and complex, medium-bodied smoke, according to the manufacturer.




SMOKESHOP - April 99