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 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 Coronas Especiales
Cohiba Esplendidos 3 packs
Cohiba Exquisitos 5 packs
Cohiba Medio Siglo
Cohiba Medio Siglo Tubos
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
Diplomaticos Nortenos Regional Edition Canada
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 Seleccion No. 1
Montecristo 80 Aniversario
Montecristo Churchills Anejados
Montecristo Double Edmundo Boxes of 10
Montecristo Double Edmundo 3 packs
Montecristo Edmundo Tubos
Montecristo Edmundo 3 packs
Montecristo Especial No.2
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
Quai D Orsay Senadores Limited Edition 2019
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 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 Larranaga Montecarlos
Por Larranaga Panetelas
Por Larranaga Petit Coronas CAB 50’S
Por Larranaga Picadores LCDH & Specialists Exclusive
Quintero Favoritos Tubos
Quintero Favoritos 5 packs
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 Petit 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 Vigia Tubos
Vegueros Centrofinos 4 packs
Vegueros Entretiempos 4 packs
Vegueros Mananitas 4 packs
Vegueros Tapados 4 packs