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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Educating Consumers Is Serious Business: A Letter From The President

Jorge Armenteros, CMT
President & Founder
Tobacconist University

I have been educating consumers since 1995 and certifying them since 1997.  In 2006 TU became the official educational curriculum of the RTDA/IPCPR/PCA, all the while educating consumers as well as tobacconists.  By 2015 we developed our own proprietary online exam platform for consumers: we made that available to retail tobacconists in 2018.  We know that the most important educators in this industry are retail tobacconists.  

Retail tobacconists are the only professionals who hand sell cigars to consumers face-to-face, every day and night:  not one single cigar maker, blogger, online cigar reviewer, youtube personality, or social media loud mouth can say that.  

Retail tobacconists are the infantry, backbone, keystone, and soul of the luxury tobacco industry.  

Educating consumers is the ultimate competitive advantage for a retail tobacconist and the lifeblood of our industry.  Any moron can buy a product for a buck and sell it for two, but successful tobacconists add value, build loyalty and enhance the customer's experience.  A retailer's education and ability to educate are the difference between success and failure. This principle is timeless and more important than ever before.  

The internet provides opportunities for people to get information, both good and bad.  Sadly, the internet and social media provide as much good education as bad information.  While there was a ton of bad information on the net 20 years ago, there seems to be exponentially more today.  The problem is only exacerbated by bad information being reprinted and repeated by the uneducated.  

Fortunately, the buck stops at TU.  While there are some cigar education websites, blogs, and social media groups that have popped up over the years, nothing comes close to our content and curriculum.  

I make it my business to see what kind of information is being offered on the internet and I rarely say anything critical, even when I probably should.  Nobody elected me fact checker of the industry, so I shut my mouth and keep my nose to the grindstone.  I think time and substance will separate the wheat from the chaff.  Plus, over one thousand certifications through TU and 25% growth in the last year is proof of progress and success.  Yet, I wonder if I should speak up more?  Just this week I "learned" 'cellophane is plastic', 'boiled water is the same as distilled', and 98% of people on facebook smoke mold thinking it is plume.  There are thousands of new and impressionable consumers learning stupid things every day.    

I know there are many good information sources on the net but the stupidity of pseudo-experts has become a cancer.  I encourage all those with a passion for luxury tobacco to venture out and find voices that they like and can relate to, but don't assume everyone knows what they are talking about.  And just because something gets repeated doesn't mean it's true.  Please check your facts before parroting them!    

Always remember certified tobacconists are there for you and the TU curriculum (Tobacco College, Accoutrements College, Taste College, Service College, FAQs, Glossary) is yours to reference: just use the search bar at the top of every page!  I know it's not a sexy magazine or blog, but it is the most solid and comprehensive resource on the internet for consumers and tobacconists.

You need a bulletproof knowledge foundation to take your passion to the next level.

Our academic curriculum has always been open and available to anyone for free!  We do not require your email address, personal information, or money to give you access.  We take great pride in offering our substance for free.  We would never force an advertisement down your throat, plug a product for money, or ask you to pay to see our academic curriculum.  Furthermore, paywalls are bulls**t.  Don't trust people who ask you to pay for information that is freely available.  And if you do, don't expect much.  Either go where the pros go or expect to be a hack.

If you have high expectations and you want the first and finest education and credibility, then please visit the Tobacconist University website and look into our Certified Consumer Tobacconist (CCT) program.  This is the ultimate proof of knowledge and credibility.  

PS: In addition to our free academic curriculum, you can see all of our certified tobacconists on the TU website.