October 1998
Volume 25
Number 5


Natural American Spirit Introduces Menthol Lights

NNatural American Spirit has extended its product line with the introduction of Menthol Light cigarettes. Designed to provide smooth menthol flavor with a lighter taste and lower levels of tar and nicotine, the new Menthol Lights are available in a distinctive green and white soft pack.

Like the full-flavor Menthol cigarettes, menthol flavoring is not added directly to the all-natural cigarette tobacco. Instead, a chamber containing natural menthol has been infused into the center of the filter. The lighter taste is accomplished by using a more porous cigarette paper, a ventilated filter wrap, and a perforated tipping paper. According to the company, due to this combination of components, the tobacco smoke is diluted with increased levels of air, providing a distinct menthol flavor and lower levels of tar and nicotine. The Menthol Lights consist of the same premium quality, additive-free, natural tobacco that is used in all Natural American Spirit cigarettes. No preservatives or reconstituted sheet tobacco is used.

Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co., Inc., PO Box 25140, Santa Fe, NM 87504, Tel: (800) 982-7454 or (505) 982-4257, Fax: (505) 982-0156.

All Dominican Cigar from Arzt Fine Cigar

Florida-based Arzt Fine Cigar Corp., founded in 1996 as a joint venture between Gary J. Arzt, a Miami-based investor, and noted Dominican cigar maker Augusto Reyes, presents the Arzt De Los Reyes cigar. Introduced in April, the Arzt De Los Reyes cigar is a true Dominican puro.

Manufactured by Augusto Reyes in Santiago, Dominican Republic, Arzt De Los Reyes cigars consist of Cuban-seed, Dominican-grown filler, a Dominican olor binder, and a Dominican wrapper. The tobaccos used are cured, fermented, and aged under the supervision of the experienced tabaqueros of the Reyes family vega in the Cibao Valley. The Arzt De Los Reyes cigar is available in six sizes; Viscount (41/2 x 50), Earl (51/2 x 38), Prince (6 x 42), Regent (6 x 47), Duke (6 x 50), and Monarch (7 x 48); and comes packaged in boxes of 25.

In addition, the company also offers the Breve, a short, full-bodied cigar made with the same blend of tobaccos as the Arzt De Los Reyes. The cigar comes in a 41/2 x 46 size and is available in five-packs or boxes of 25. The Breve features a different packaging design and is being marketed as a "short smoke."

Arzt Fine Cigar Corp.'s cigars were introduced to smoke shops in the U.S., Asia, and the Middle East this summer at a number of champagne and caviar receptions hosted by Gary J. Arzt. The company distributes the cigars to only a few hand-picked retailers in each city. This deliberate exclusivity is Arzt Fine Cigar 's key marketing strategy.

"Distribution through knowledgeable tobacconists reinforces the cigar's credibility, " says Arzt, the company's managing director. "They won't be sold in drug stores or convenience stores." The company plans to have a global presence by the end of 1998.

The Arzt Fine Cigar Corp., One Alhambra Plaza, Suite 620, Coral Gables, FL 33134, Tel: (305) 774-6001, Fax: (305) 446-4736.

Tabacalera Revs Distribution of Romeo Y Julieta
800-JR Cigar, Hollco-Rohr in Joint Distribution Agreement

Tabacalera Cigars International (TCI), the U.S. subsidiary of Spanish tobacco titan Tabacalera S.A., recently completed the purchase of Tabacalera Nacional Dominicana, S.A. The Dominican factory, previously owned by Lew Rothman, c.e.o. of 800-JR Cigar, Inc., along with several partners, will now manufacture the entire line of Romeo Y Julieta cigars. With the purchase, the company will be able to fully control and assure the availability of the noted cigar brand, which has been in short supply for some time.

With the acquisition of the factory, which previously made bundled cigars for 800-JR Cigar and a number of other distributors, Tabacalera Cigars International is striving to reinforce the presence and expand the distribution of Romeo Y Julieta cigars in the U.S. market. The new production capacity will enable Tabacalera to service all requests for Romeo Y Julieta cigars on a steady basis. Production of the cigar line will be under the supervision of noted cigar maker and executive vice president of operations for TCI, Benjamin Menendez.

Distribution of the cigar in the U.S. will be handled by TCI's subsidiary, Hollco-Rohr, which has been the sole distributor of the brand, in joint exclusivity with Cigars by Santa Clara, the wholesale division of 800-JR Cigar, Inc. Cigars by Santa Clara will distribute the cigar to its extensive client base, complementing Hollco-Rohr's existing sales, marketing, and distribution force.

The agreement does not include the Romeo Y Julieta Vintage or any other future extensions of the line. Hollco-Rohr will be the only authorized distributor of these cigars. In addition, all reasonable current backorders of the cigar will be handled by Hollco-Rohr until the agreement with Cigars by Santa Clara takes effect.

Romeo Y Julieta cigars are now manufactured at Manufactura de Tabacos S.A. (Matasa) in Santiago, Dominican Republic. According to the company, Hollco-Rohr did not control its source of supply of Romeo Y Julieta, resulting in a continued shortage of the cigars. Since it's acquisition of Hollco-Rohr in mid-1997, one of TCI's main concerns has been to rectify this situation.

Hollco-Rohr, 20717 Marilla Street, Chatsworth, CA 91311, Tel: (800) 24-SMOKE, Fax: (818) 885-7473. Cigars by Santa Clara, 1515 East Broad Street, Statesville, NC 28677, Tel: (919) 965-0355, Fax: (704) 872-5300.

Prometheus, Tabacalera Release Romeo Y Julieta Commemorative Humidors

In September, Tabacalera Cigars International, in conjunction with California-based Prometheus International, Inc., manufacturer of upscale humidors and cigar accessories, introduced 100 numbered commemorative humidors containing 50 Limited Edition Romeo Y Julieta Churchills and 50 Limited Edition Romeo Y Julieta Robustos.

The Limited Edition Romeo Y Julieta cigars feature an enhanced blend of tobaccos, making them even more full-bodied, and are double-banded; the second band is inscribed, "Limited Edition 1998." Prometheus has handcrafted 100 special edition Romeo Y Julieta humidors to be sold with the cigars.

The humidors, which hold up to 200 cigars, display the "Romeo Y Julieta Vintage" logo inlayed on the lid and are available in black macassar, light-green maple, and yellow maple. They come equipped with a Credo humidification system, a digital hygrometer/ thermometer, and two built-in trays. According to Keith Park, c.e.o. of Prometheus, "The 1998 Limited Edition Romeo Y Julieta humidor is the highest quality humidor the company has ever produced." Prometheus International has created limited edition humidors for Cohiba in 1996 and Montecristo in 1997.

Prometheus International, Inc., 5680 Bandini Boulevard, Bell, CA 90201, Tel: (213) 261-7200, Fax: (213) 261-0801.

Dunhill's Honduran Cigar Enters U.S. Market
In late June, Dunhill Tobacco of London introduced its first Honduran-made cigar to the U.S. market. The new cigar, the Dunhill Honduran Selection, was launched in the U.K. in May and was introduced in Germany in mid-June before being made available in the U.S.

The Dunhill Honduran Selection is handmade at Tabacos San Andres in Danl', Honduras, and consists of filler from a blend of Dominican, Mexican, and Brazilian tobaccos, a Mexican binder, and an Indonesian wrapper. The cigar is available in five sizes; Robusto (41/2 x 50), Corona (51/2 x 41), Toro (6 x 50), Lonsdale (61/2 x 42), and Churchill (7 x 48). The Corona and Churchill sizes also come tubed.

The new Dunhill Honduran Selection, bearing a green and white version of the traditional Dunhill label, is a significant departure from the company's Dominican-made cigar. Dunhill's Dominican Aged cigar is mild tasting and uses a specially selected Connecticut shade grown wrapper. According to Chris Boon, product manager for Dunhill Cigars, the smoking characteristics of the Honduran Dunhill are designed to replicate the heavier-bodied Cuban type of cigar. "Dunhill's Honduran Selection will appeal to cigar smokers looking for a more assertive and full-bodied taste," says Boon.

Lane Limited, 2280 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Tucker, GA 30084, Tel: (800) 221-4134, Fax: (770) 938-9473.

Synergy Brands to Market Corojo Cuban-style Cigar
Premium Handmade Cigar Will Feature Dominican-Grown Cuban Wrapper

Synergy Brands, Inc. of Syosset, New York, is introducing a new premium cigar line, handmade with a special Cuban-seed wrapper known as Corojo. The cigars, bearing the Breton Corojo Vintage Series marque, will be launched in the U.S. market in January of 1999 in limited quantities.

The cigar's unique wrapper was developed from Cuban seeds planted in the Dominican Republic's Bonao Valley. Synergy Brands leased land in the valley in December 1997, for the cultivation of the Corojo wrapper. "The Cuban seed, plus the management of the cultivation by our technical experts, have all combined to produce this most unusual wrapper, a product similar to that produced in Cuba," said Pedro Breton, developer of the Corojo Vintage Series cigars. The company reports the wrapper has been successfully grown and is now being cured.

The only other company that has successfully planted the Corojo wrappers is the Fuente family, for use in its highly-popular Fuente Fuente OpusX. "Although many of the multinational cigar companies have tried to produce wrappers on Dominican soil, they have all been unsuccessful," said Mair Faibish, executive vice president of Synergy Brands. "The Breton family is only the second family, after the Fuente family, to be successful."

Pedro Breton, for whom the cigar line is named, is a world-class agronomist, who, according to Faibish, is credited with launching the cigar boom during his public service in the Dominican Republic. Since 1975, Breton has held several important positions including president of the Tobacco Institute and Minister of Agriculture, as well as serving as a senator.

"We at Synergy Brands feel fortunate having aligned ourselves with Seľor Breton," said Faibish. "Together with our marketing expertise and his skill and knowledge, Synergy Brands hopes to have a cigar that will be sought after by the premium cigar market."

The Breton Corojo Vintage cigars also contain Dominican binder and filler, grown in the same soil as the Corojo wrapper. The company is planning to manufacture five sizes of the cigar; Robusto, Churchill, Corona, Double Corona, and Panatela. The Breton Corojo Vintage will be packaged in cedar boxes of four, eight, and 25 cigars. A national consumer advertising campaign, which began this fall to support sales and the marketing of the cigars, will consist of direct response channels via the Internet and on nationwide cable TV, as well as selected smoke shops.

Gran Reserve Cigars, 7601 N.W. 68th Street, Suite 128, Miami, FL 33166, Tel: (800) 642-4860, Fax: (516) 364-2142.

Phillips & King Named Exclusive Importer of Bali Shag RYO Tobacco
Phillips & King International, Inc. announced that it has been named the exclusive importer of Bali Shag roll-your-own cigarette tobacco. Bali Shag is being introduced to fill the void left by the departure of Drum from the U.S. market. The Bali Shag blend is a very similar style to Drum RYO tobacco.

Bali Halfzware Shag is manufactured in Denmark by Peter Stokkebye International and consists of a blend of Virginia and dark fired, hand-stripped Kentucky tobaccos. It is available in 40-gram pouches which include 50 cigarette papers. The company expects to also have 150-gram tins on the market by October.

Peter Stokkebye International is also introducing Skandinavik Regular and Full Aromatic pipe tobaccos through Phillips & King.

Phillips & King International, Inc., 18021 Cortney Court, City of Industry, PA 91748, Tel: (800) 53-CIGAR, Fax: (626) 810-1933.

Holiday Packaging for Willem II Five-Packs; New Willem II Optimum Countertop Display

Swedish Match North America, Inc. is now offering a unique clear acrylic countertop display cube for its Willem II Optimum cigar, a popular brand in Europe that debuted in the U.S. market in January 1997. The display cube accommodates 25 cigars and occupies less than one-third of a square foot of counter space.

The display was designed to expand introductory sales of the Willem II Optimum. It allows consumers to view the entire cigar, to attract and promote trial purchases. "The new display is a positive move for retailers because it takes a small amount of counter area and turns it into a profitable use of space," notes Bruce Robinson, marketing manager for Swedish Match North America. "We're finding that the clear cube display and the price invites smokers to try their first Willem II, and that repeat purchases in the U.S. are rising." In addition, the company has also created a new Willem II Christmas five-pack for holiday sales. The five-pack has a distinctive slip-off holiday sleeve and is designed for impulse sales. The holiday sleeve can be removed from the five-pack after the Christmas season, to return run-overs to open stock without marking the product down or setting up new UPC codes. The Willem II five-pack sells from a "power wing," a cardboard display containing 30 packs, which includes an optional base for floor display or can be used as a hanging display.

"We designed the packaging to capture the gift-giving segment and at the same time make this holiday promotion hassle-free for retailers," said Robinson. "The idea was to take a quality product and create a seasonal sales opportunity with it."

The Willem II Optimum consists of short filler from a blend of primarily Brazilian and Indonesian tobaccos, a binder of Besuki tobacco from Java, and an Indonesian TBN wrapper. The cigar is available in a single size, a 5 x 41 Corona, and comes cellophane-wrapped and packaged in gold tubes. Along with their distinctive packaging, the Willem II cigar and the holiday five-pack have a popular price point.

Swedish Match is implementing a strong marketing program and a unique print advertising series to reinforce sales of Willem II Optimum cigars.

Swedish Match North America, Inc., 6600 West Broad Street, PO Box 11588, Richmond, VA 23230-1588, Tel: (800) 367-3677, Fax: (804) 287-3282.

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