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Plain Packaging – What it Means for Cuban Cigars in Canada. PLUS, A List of Delisted Habanos cigars.

Plain Packaging – What it Means for Cuban Cigars in Canada. PLUS, A List of Delisted Habanos cigars.

All signs point to the Canadian government sticking with its plan to enforce the plain packaging law on tobacco sales in the country.  Despite numerous protests, petitions, advocate groups, it seems the government will go ahead and do its part to help destroy what is already a highly regulated business sector – the premium cigar market. 

Selling cigars in Canada, in a legal fashion, is a very tough business.  There are so many options for consumers that are sometimes more affordable than purchasing from a local authorized retailer.  I have been fortunate and grateful to have built a loyal and passionate clientele that have continued to buy from our shops locally, both at La Casa del Habano in Montreal, and most recently from Whisky Café in Montreal.  With all those challenges to ensure customers are satisfied, we are now being faced with a hurdle that will be, to say the least, a test to the industry, and an annoyance to the end customer.

     Here are the details and dates and how it can affect you, the cigar consumer.  Effective November 9, 2020, the cigar distributors will no longer be allowed to sell cigars with the original packaging.  Retailers will then have until May 31, 2021 to sell off all their inventory with original packaging.  This pertains to the premium cigars.  The small format (mini, club, cigarillos) are already in plain packaging mode.  Keep in mind that discounting tobacco in some parts of Canada is illegal, and so retailers in say Quebec are not even permitted to sell their inventory at a discount should they need to liquidate their cigars.

At the time of this writing, all of the major cigar distributors are out of stock on most of their best sellers.  Havana House, Canada’s exclusive distributor of Habanos, is slowly running out of many of their cigars.  Other distributors like GVA (Davidoff, Arturo Fuente, Brickhouse, etc…), House Of Horvath (My Father Cigars, Calixto Lopez, Atelier, etc…) are in the same boat.  The reason for their low inventory is that they were all very careful on not ordering too many cigars before the November cut-off with the original packaging, with fear of being stuck with all those soon to be illegal cigars.

  To add to the complexity of the situation, COVID 19 hit the world, making travel next to impossible and creating work from home environments commonplace.  Without much travel in which cigar smokers obtain varying portions of their cigars, the Canadian demand at the local retailers was far beyond the expected sales forecasts that any of the distributors could have predicted, and thus, the inventory is being depleted at a faster than ever rate.  The result is that many cigar distributors are sold out of our favorite sticks, and will only receive more in months from now.  It seems that we will be without several cigars for a period of time.  

What a year it has been.

Resistance from the consumers. 

     Having spoken to several authorized retailers, the initial response from clients to the plain packaging is cold.  “We just received the Macanudo cigars, with the same price, but with the plain packaging, and clients are not interested in it” commented Trae Zammit from Smokin’ Cigar in Toronto.  Other retailers are finding their humidors are starting to look “depressing” with the ever-growing percentage of brown packaging.  The cigar retail section of Whisky Café will also be affected as it’s large humidors will have less color than usual from.  I believe that once all the cigars are uniform and the clients overcome the adjustment period, the negativity of it will neutralize from a cigar smokers’ point of view.  After all, we do not enjoy cigars because of the band, but of the pleasure and relaxation it provides.

     Let’s get down to the details.  Below is a list of Habanos cigars coming from Cuba that will be delisted and no longer available as of November 2020.  In some cases, they are already unavailable as they may have sold out.  Brace yourself, you are sure to find some of your favorites in the list.

Notable and iconic cigars that will no longer be available.

When first looking at the list, I had to double check and triple check it a few times to ensure I was not misreading.  There are simply too many iconic and important cigars that are being delisted.  This is by no means on knock on the people who made the decisions.  No doubt they were business decisions based on past sales, and there was no room for sentimental decisions.  I get it.  However, not having the entire Por Larranaga and Cuaba lines hurts.  No more personal favorites such as the Partagas 898, Cohiba Siglo V, Rafael Gonzalez Petit Coronas, Romeo Y Julieta Cazadores, and San Cristobal De La Habana La Fuerza.  

     The iconic cigars, such as the Cohiba Lanceros, Montecristo A and Trinidad Fundadores will no longer be available.  You may ask, when is the last time you smoked any of these?  The reality is, that indeed, those cigars are in the rotation, and even if they are not the most common daily cigars, they do remain a celebration cigar, something you save the date for.

Complete lines will disappear.

The Montecristo Linea 1935 line that consists of the Leyanda, Dumas and Maltes cigars will no longer be available.  The Añejados complete line will disappear, although that line never really took off.  Our beloved cabinets of 50, no longer available.  Not one!  It is not 100% clear yet what the future holds for the cigars that come in more elaborate packaging, such as the revered Cohiba Behike, the annual Book Humidors, the Replica Humidors, and so many others that we’ve come to love.

A call to encourage local shops

     It is clear that many Canadian cigar smokers purchase their cigars from places other than Canadian retailers.  Although I am not here to change any habits, I do encourage the community to purchase a few cigars here and there from their local shops as often as possible.  It will make the difference between keeping the industry alive or not having one at all.  Remember, they are providing a service, their expertise, taking risks, and offering an experience when we enter their fine establishments.  Let’s try not to lose that.   

A list of DELISTED CUBAN CIGARS in Canada

     For sake of clarity, note that if it says “tubos”, it means only the tubos is delisted and not the regular cigar.  If it reads “5 pack”, then only the 5 pack of that cigar will be delisted, and so on…    

BOLIVAR

Bolivar Belicosos Finos Cabinet of 25 (it seems the box pressed version will be available)

Bolivar Coronas Junior

Bolivar Royal Coronas Tubos

Bolivar Soberano Limited Edition 2018

COHIBA

Cohiba Coronas Especiales

Cohiba Esplendidos 3 packs

Cohiba Exquisitos

Cohiba Exquisitos 5 packs

Cohiba Lanceros

Cohiba Medio Siglo

Cohiba Medio Siglo Tubos

Cohiba Panetelas

Cohiba Panetelas 5 packs

Cohiba Piramides Extra Tubos

Cohiba Robusto Tubos

Cohiba Siglo I Tubos

Cohiba Siglo I 5 packs

Cohiba Siglo III

Cohiba Siglo III 5 packs

Cohiba Siglo IV Tubos

Cohiba Siglo IV 5 packs

Cohiba Siglo V

Cohiba Siglo VI Tubos

Cohiba Talisman Limited Edition 2017

CUABA

Cuaba Distinguidos

Cuaba Divinos

Cuaba Exclusivos

Cuaba Salomon

Cuaba Tradicionales

DIPLOMATICOS

Diplomaticos Nortenos Regional Edition Canada

FONSECA

Fonseca Cosacos

H. UPMANN

H. Upmann Connaisseur No. 1

H. Upmann Coronas Junior Tubos

H. Upmann Coronas Minor Tubos

H. Upmann Half Corona 5 packs

H. Upmann Magnum 46 Cabinet of 50

H. Upmann Magnum 54 Tubos

H. Upmann Propios Limited Edition 2018

H. Upmann Robustos Anejados

HOYO DE MONTERREY

Hoyo De Monterrey Epicure Especial Tubos

Hoyo De Monterrey Epicure No.1

Hoyo De Monterrey Epicure No.2 Tubos

Hoyo De Monterrey Epicure No.2 Cabinets of 50

Hoyo De Monterrey Epicure No.2 Tubos

Hoyo De Monterrey Petit Robusto 3 packs

Hoyo De Monterrey San Juan Tubos

JOSE L. PIEDRA

Jose L. Piedra Petit Cetros

JUAN LOPEZ

Juan Lopez Seleccion No. 1

MONTECRISTO

Montecristo 80 Aniversario

Montecristo A

Montecristo Churchills Anejados

Montecristo Double Edmundo Boxes of 10

Montecristo Double Edmundo 3 packs

Montecristo Dumas

Montecristo Edmundo Tubos

Montecristo Edmundo 3 packs

Montecristo Especial No.2

Montecristo Leyenda

Montecristo Maltes

Montecristo Medias Coronas

Montecristo No. 3.  5 packs

Montecristo No. 4.  3 packs.

Montecristo No. 5 Boxes of 10

Montecristo No. 5 5 packs

Montecristo Open Junior Tubos

Montecristo Open Eagle Tubos

Montecristo Open Master Tubos

Montecristo Open Regata Tubos

Montecristo Petit Edmundo Tubos

Montecristo Petit No. 2 Tubos

Montecristo Petit No. 2. 3 packs

Montecristo Petit Tubos 5 packs.

Montecristo Petit Tubos

Montecristo Supremos Limited Edition 2019

Montecristo Tubos

QUAI D’ORSAY

Quai D Orsay Senadores Limited Edition 2019

PARTAGAS

Partagas 898 HR VARNISHED

Partagas Coronas Gordas Anejados

Partagas Coronas Junior TUBOS

Partagas Lusitanias in boxes of 25 and Cabinets of 50.  Only boxes of 10 will remain.

Partagas Mille Fleurs

Partagas Presidentes

Partagas Serie D No. 4 Tubos

Partagas Serie D No. 5 Tubos

Partagas Serie D No. 6. 5 packs

Partagas Serie E No. 2. 5 packs

Partagas Serie E No. 2 Tubos

Partagas Serie P No. 2 Tubos

Partagas Series No. 1 Limited Edition 2017

Partagas Shorts CABINET of 50

POR LARRAÑAGA

Por Larranaga Montecarlos

Por Larranaga Panetelas

Por Larranaga Petit Coronas CAB 50’S

Por Larranaga Picadores LCDH & Specialists Exclusive

QUINTERO

Quintero Favoritos Tubos

Quintero Favoritos 5 packs

Quintero Nacionales

Quintero Tubulares

RAFAEL GONZALEZ

Rafael Gonzalez Perlas

Rafael Gonzalez Perlas 5 packs

Rafael Gonzalez Petit Coronas

ROMEO Y JULIETA

Romeo Y Julieta Capuleto Limited Edition 2016

Romeo Y Julieta Cazadores

Romeo Y Julieta Cedros Deluxe No. 2

Romeo Y Julieta Cedros Deluxe No. 3

Romeo Y Julieta Churchills Tubos (all configurations)

Romeo Y Julieta Churchills Anejados Tubos

Romeo Y Julieta Club Kings

Romeo Y Julieta Exhibicion No. 4

Romeo Y Julieta Julieta

Romeo Y Julieta Petit Churchills Tubos

Romeo Y Julieta Petit Coronas

Romeo Y Julieta Petit Royales

Romeo Y Julieta Petit Royales Tubos

Romeo Y Julieta Piramides Anejados

Romeo Y Julieta Romeo No. 2.  5 packs

Romeo Y Julieta Romeo No. 3.  Boxes of 10

Romeo Y Julieta Short Churchills Tubos

Romeo Y Julieta Tacos Limited Edition 2018

Romeo Y Julieta Wide Churchill Tubos

SELECCION SERIES

Seleccion Petit Robustos

Seleccion Piramides

Seleccion Robustos

SAN CRISTOBAL DE LA HABANA

San Cristobal De La Habana La Fuerza

San Cristobal De La Habana La Punta

San Cristobal De La Habana Prado LCDH & HS

TRINIDAD

Trinidad Fundadores

Trinidad Vigia Tubos

VEGUEROS

Vegueros Centrofinos 4 packs

Vegueros Entretiempos 4 packs

Vegueros Mananitas 4 packs

Vegueros Tapados 4 packs

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