This article was written by Daniel Temos (Dalamscius) and is the second installment of a two-part series. If you have not yet read the first installment, I strongly suggest you give it a read before progressing to part two.
In part 1 of A Comparison Between Canadian and American Cigar Shops we discussed the impact taxes and duties on tobacco could have on your local B&M. We saw how much an environment can change due to taxes implemented by the various government bodies, whether they are just for an individual state/province or country wide. In Part 2 of the article we will analyze the effects that other legislation can have which are not related to taxes and duties.
Attending any sort of herf of social cigar event is fairly difficult in Canada, especially during the winter months. A lot of family members don’t like the idea of smoking indoors, and smoking indoors with 5 other friends is even worse. Now some of you might ask, why don’t you crazy Canadians head to your local cigar shop and light up a nice cigar while enjoying a fine leather chair and some HD Television like most American’s due on a regular basis? Unfortunately, that is not the case in Canada. So I’m left once again to ask, Would you support your local B&M if…
Smoking was not allowed indoors
Smoking bans are pretty commonplace in most of the world. And it has become fairly accepted to limit your smoking indoors to certain approved areas such as a Casino or a cigar shop. This is how it started in Canada but was escalated in 2004 to include a 100% indoor smoking ban in public places. This means that there are no longer provisions for specially equipped smoke rooms, it’s a full ban on smoking except for basically your home or other private residence. On top of that, there are even restrictions in Canada that prevent you from smoking within a certain distance of entrances and exits to buildings.
So my options to enjoy a cigar are fairly limited but many people are becoming more resourceful. Garages seem to be the easy first pick since they are mostly sealed off from the house and offer some warmth without cost during the winter season. Some people just use a propane heater and a covered porch or similar area outdoors. Think about how this would affect your trips to the B&M. No more fancy couches and TV’s in a well ventilated room for you to enjoy a cigar. Time to brave the cold almost every time you want to light one up.
So some of your local tobacconists would get around this by setting up some outdoor patio’s or lounges. Although this is still limiting based on weather, it does allow you to still enjoy a cigar with some good company.
Most people also prefer to enjoy their cigar with a fine drink such as a port, cognac or scotch. Typically these are available from your local tobacconist, but not always. In Canada, it is very difficult to obtain a liquor license and your local B&M would likely have to be in business as a bar or restaurant to qualify. So subtract the wide selection of fine alcoholic beverages from your local tobacconist. This likely won’t be a deal breaker for most since you can bring your own beverage but it does take away from the allure of spending an evening at your local cigar shop with a fantastic selection of your favorite libations.
Local cigar manufacturers were extremely rare
Another direct result of the strict regulations on Tobacco would be the rarity of local cigar manufacturers. There has been a growing number of boutique cigar manufacturers from the USA that have been producing some great quality cigars, Tatuaje and Illusione are two names that come to mind. I have no doubt that those manufacturers have had to jump through a few hoops to get all the government paperwork in place but they can still offer great cigars at reasonable prices.
Now start adding to the mix the regulations, taxes and duties we’ve discussed throughout this article and you can safely assume that there would be far less boutique manufacturers around. I’ve lived in Canada all my life and smoked cigars for many years now and I’ve only heard of two. One of them just lives in Canada and runs the company but does all of his work in Nicaragua. The cigars for this boutique brand are also very sparse with most of his distribution over in Europe. When you compare this to the new manufacturers in the USA you can see an obvious difference in how they all operate and distribute.
With the lack of local manufacturers you can also expect all the fun local events to disappear. Those special night’s at your local B&M premiering new blends or just promoting a certain manufacturer would occur much less frequently. Some local shops would still hold events and have a certain blend/brand on special but they would likely not be sponsored by the manufacturer. This is the typical occurrence in Canada these days. As you can expect, all the fun swag, cigar giveaways and meeting cigar industry people would not happen during these events.
As you can appreciate, there can be many ways your Friday night at the local B&M can change in a short period of time. Some locations on the USA are already feeling the pain of indoor smoking bans while others are on the cusp of passing bills to make it happen. Each little change happens in steps and once one is passed the next one gets brought to the table. This is how it occurred in Canada. We all enjoy relaxing with a friend and enjoying a cigar while striking up a good conversation or watching the game on TV. This hasn’t stopped for me even with all the restrictions, it just makes us become more resourceful. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about how things can change and how they are for us Canadians. If you are at all curious about any more details feel free to contact me or post a comment and I’ll get back with an answer.
Daniel Temos (a.k.a. Dalamscius) writes articles and cigar reviews with Tony Casas on www.casasfumando.com. Be sure to check out the site. He is an IT Professional from Toronto, Ontario, Canada and enjoys cigars, scuba diving, hockey, fishing, nature and anything that challenges his mind. If Daniel’s not sitting on his big comfy couch or at work you can usually find him in a boat on top of the water or 100ft under the water enjoying a dive. He is engaged to a wonderful Fiance and looking forward to his wedding. Feel free to contact Daniel anytime via email (dalamscius[at]gmail[dot]com). And make sure to follow him on twitter http://twitter.com/Dalamscius
8 thoughts on “A Comparison between Canadian and American Cigar Shops – Part 2”
Now imagine the government just raised their tobacco excise by 25% so that you’re now paying $409.71 tax per kg. (2.2lb) Congratulations, you’re a resident of Australia 🙁
I’ve always wondered in the places where there is an across the board smoking ban if one could open a private club B&M with monthly fees and then legally have smoking. Is that possible?
Wow how things have changed in Canada. I visited once in 92 and the bars were hoping, people were dancing, drinking and smoking like chimneys. I was NOT a smoker at the time and only smoke cigars now but I thought for sure Canada was going to remain a Wild West fun place. Sounds like it’s gotten, well, a bit towards the prudish and boring 🙁
Cam, I’m curious now how far the Anti-Smoking bans stretch in Australia, are they as bad as some parts of Canada? Also, is customs as tough on shipping tobacco cross border?
Josh, It’s very hard to do this. I have a local herf club that gets together every now and then at some private indoor places but it’s always kept very low-key and you can only be invited in. Kinda too exclusive, although we do have two police officers in the club! hahaha
Someone in Ottawa actually tried creating a private club, charging fees and turning away general public. They did a nice job. Had a pub with a bar, private humidors and alcohol storage and all that. It lasted about a month before the government stepped in. The guy refused to shut down and was eventually jailed for a few days till he gave in…
It depends a little on state, but generally you can’t smoke indoors in a public place. The states differ on what constitutes outdoors. In my state smoking is permitted in outdoor dining or drinking areas, unless the outdoor area has a roof, as well as walls that cover more than 75% of the wall area. I think this is pretty similar to Canada. The solution is the same – a bunch of guys huddled under a propane heater!
You can ship tobacco across the border, but if you declare it to customs you’ll pay the excise at $409.71 per kg. Most bags are x-rayed or searched on entry, so if you don’t declare it and get caught you’ll be fined, plus have to pay the excise or lose your cigars. You can bring in 250g duty free – that’s not a lot of cigars. International mail order can be a real pain, but some people do it quite successfully, while others can’t win a trick.
To put the prices into perspective, at Cigars International a box of CAO Brazilia Piranhas retails for US$109.95, at my local B&M they’re US$366.65.
Another *awesome* government initiative is that from 2012 tobacco products will have to be sold in generically branded packaging where the package, font and positioning of text and mandatory health warnings is identical across all brands. It’s not yet known whether cigar bands will be affected.
To our friends in the US, support the CRA because this is a picture of where things are headed all over the world. The UK is almost as mad, and it seems in the US that New York state wants to go first.
we have the same anti smoking laws in Washington state as in Canada…. can’t even smoke in a smoke shop. So it is happening in the states just as well as in Canada. B&M’s are all but nonexistant around here because of it.
I’m in the same spot as homebrewer. It’s almost illegal to exhale up here. You wonder what they will take away next????