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Sunday, February 3, 2008

Looking Forward

I have been thinking about those heady days in the 90’s after Cigar Aficionado (CA) was released, the cigar boom, cigar dinners all the time, and a seemingly endless stream of sophisticated new customers. I remember when big fancy corporations and executives would come in and buy oodles of gifts for their clients and co-workers: they were conspicuous and passionate cigar smokers. I remember black-tie dinners, events at restaurants, and hotels between NYC and Philly; all the time! It was busy and fun.
Honestly though, I did not appreciate it enough. I was young and capricious… and resentful of the trendy and superficial smokers; customers which do not exist today. But a mere 10 years later we are living in the opposite world. Politicians use all smoke issues to placate their constituents, the captains of industry still come in but they are now on the ‘down-low’, and the customers that remain are persecuted everywhere they go. What the F&^%$ happened?!? (sorry for the language) The world, science, facts, and people have not changed; politics have!
Perhaps my thoughts are prompted by the recent announcement that the CA Big Smoke has been cancelled in Chicago, due to the new anti-smoking laws. Obviously this is another preposterous defeat. But I do not hear about any lawsuits, protest campaigns, or marching in the streets. I feel like we continue to lay down and take the beating while the world goes up in smoke.
But there is an ebb and flow to everything, yin and yang, two sides to every coin, … and TU is working diligently towards improving our world. Currently there are almost 20 new CST Apprenticing and on their way to being Certified. Those CST will be out Certifying Retail Tobacconists who will in turn Certify Consumers; by this summer. We are building Credibility one Tobacconist, one person, at a time. While I like to take the long-term view, things are starting to change positively now.
I know this century will see more:
  • empowered, educated, & credible Tobacconists
  • passionate, committed, & substantive Consumers
  • proactive & enlightened Cigar & Pipe makers
… because we are starting to value and prioritize Education.
Obviously, I believe we can build a better industry. By investing in people (i.e. Tobacconists & Consumers), using technology in a proactive way, and embracing change, we absolutely can make a healthful place for luxury tobacco and Tobacconists in our modern age.
Jorge Armenteros, CMT

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