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Thursday, July 9, 2020

The Tragic Tobacco Trifecta Of Loss: Beetles, Mold & Damage

The cigars in this image were boxed and sealed in airtight plastic in 2007.  They were opened in 2020 and it was discovered that everything was ruined due to mold!  The financial and emotional damage is incomprehensible, especially if these were your cigars and your were salivating and ready to smoke them.  But mold does not just appear on older or aged cigars; it can be found on recently shipped cigars!  Mold can result from less than ideal factory conditions or be exacerbated by very oily wrappers on freshly made cigars.  

This past March a Certified Retail Tobacconist reported to TU that they had to destroy more than $13,000 (wholesale value) of cigars due to mold.  The cigars were stored perfectly but a flow valve on a humidifier failed to stop the flow of water, creating an unseen puddle and soaking through a massive amount of cigars.  To add insult to injury, the water leaked through walls and into the neighbors basement and cost the retailer another $400+ in repairs.  Mold is evil and it will irreparably contaminate and destroy cigars; and this happens every day to retail tobacconists and distributors! 

The insipid tobacco beetle is yet another enemy of tobacco purveyors.  They will eat through and destroy your inventory without you even knowing it.  Adding insult to injury, you may not even notice the damage until months later when you open a box and find holes in your cigars and dead beetles at the bottom of a box.  At this point, you can't know if the beetles were triggered by temperature at factory, distributor or during shipment.  The loss exists and there is no one to blame or compensate you for the loss.  Things get even worse if you operate cigar lockers for customers and they bring in "outside" cigars which can contaminate other customers' cigars!  We have heard countless stories where tobacconists compensate customers for beetle ridden cigar losses even when they have no fault in the matter.  There are many veteran retailers who will not house customers' cigars in lockers because of this potential problem.  We recommend you review our content on Tobacco Beetles, but know that they will inevitably cost you money.  Adding insult to injury, beetle damaged cigars, like moldy cigars, have no salvage value, so they must be removed from the premises and destroyed.  

Damaged cigars are yet another way tobacconists loose money every day.  If your'e a retail tobacconist you see customers drop cigars on a daily basis, and this is just one of the ways they get damaged.  People mishandle cigars on a daily basis in a retail humidor; foot, body and head damage occurs daily in every walk-in humidor.  Furthermore, many cigars get damaged during import or shipping to stores.  Tapered heads and all cigar feet are susceptible to damage during shipment, long before they arrive at your favorite local retail tobacconist.  In addition, if you are in this business long enough, you will regularly see entire batches of piramides/torpedos arrive with cracked heads; and often times it is not worth the effort to get your money back from the importer.  Even worse, there are brands whose wrappers are extremely delicate and will crack with minor deviations in humidity or even gently handling.  Damaged cigars are so common it seems unreal, as if an evil fairy pounces on them overnight, just to see your angst the next day!

These losses are real and devastating to retail tobacconists.  We estimate at least 5% of all cigar inventories are lost due to mold, damage and tobacco beetles, with no recourse for vendors.  And we haven't even mentioned shoplifting/slippage!  This is a difficult business with many challenges!   As always, we encourage you to shop with your local retail tobacconist and help us preserve luxury tobacco for generations to come!        

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