WARNING – An Unprecedented Tax on Cigars is on the Horizon
I’ve been on the fringe of politics in my writing in the past, but I try to avoid many political issues. However, over the last couple of weeks, a disturbing piece of legislation has gotten some press and I just cannot help weighing in with my two cents. In simple summary, the U.S. Congress and President George Bush will be considering a bill aimed at providing health insurance for children via a tax increase on tobacco products (part of the Children’s Health and Medicare Protection Act). At first glance, I did not flinch too much upon hearing of it (certainly, I am all for poor children getting proper healthcare), but then I delved into the details. I soon got pretty pissed, when I discovered that the bill unfairly saddles the premium, hand-rolled cigar market with a disproportionate and unconscionable tax. The supporters of this bill do not just want to fractionally boost the tax or even double the tax – Noooo! Some D.C. yahoos want to raise taxes on hand-rolled premium cigars from the current average of about 5 cents per cigar, to nearly $10 per cigar! An unprecedented 20,000 percent bump!
Think about it! Your favorite $4 yard ‘gar goes to $14 overnight if this law passes – more than tripling its current price. The new prices would be in line with the current price of some super premium cigars, smoked at prime steakhouses by bankers, not by an average Joe pushing his Craftsman lawnmower around the yard.
The St Petersburg Times quotes Eric Newman in a July 17 article:
"I'm not sure in the history of man, since our forefathers founded the country in 1776, that there's ever been a tax increase of 20,000 percent," said Newman, who runs the Tampa business founded by grandfather Julius Caesar Newman. "They had the Boston Tea Party for less than this."
Other cigar industry experts fear the impact of this law, with some concerned that it could almost wipe out the industry. They rightfully argue that cigar purchases will drop significantly, putting many workers and whole companies in Central American countries like Honduras, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, and even some U.S. companies, out of business.
If you enjoy a cigar once in awhile or even all of the while – get off your butt and let your displeasure be heard. Please call or write your congressmen today to ensure this bill dies a quick death.
So let’s get smoking while we still can afford to do so.
Size: Clasico, 5.25 inches long, 54 ring gauge
Price: $6.50 to $7.50 range
Partagas has been a much-respected cigar brand for generations, dating back to the days when they were made in Cuba. Partagas is the last name of the founder of the company, but the Cifuentes family helped make Partagas a star cigar producer. Today, Daniel Nunez is in charge, and is credited with creating the Partagas Black product line. Nunez was Ramon Cifuentes’ hand-picked successor. Partagas Black is made predominantly with ligero tobaccos as its primary filler, and utilizes a sun-grown binder and a Cuban-seed, dark wrapper known as Medio Tempo.
- Wrapper: Honduras
- Filler: Honduras, Nicaragua
- Binder: Honduras
I had the opportunity to relax in my hammock on a recent Friday evening after a busy work week. I grabbed the lone Partagas Black out of the humidor and mixed a dirty martini. I had smoked a Partagas Black once before, but it was with some old buddies and a fair amount of beer. I recalled it being a good smoke, but could not exactly recall why.
Look and feel
The Clasico size of this cigar is about as dark a cigar as you will see in a cigar store, hence the name Black (I suppose). Coupled with its black and gold band, highlighting the familiar Partagas name and logo, this cigar will be noticed wherever you choose to light it. I was very impressed with the feel of the cigar, too. At a 54 ring gauge it is a “fatter” cigar, but the obvious weight in my hand let me know that the cigar was packed with plenty of tobacco.
Aroma and Taste
The pre-lit aroma was fairly straightforward, just that of good well-aged tobacco. Instead of my usual double bladed cut, I went with a punch instead – just to change things up a little. The pre-lit draw was fairly spicy, letting me know that the Partagas Black was about to live up to its full-bodied, fuller strength reputation. The initial puffs after ignition reminded me of charcoal, which was a little disappointing. However, it never really got to the point of being harsh to the taste buds. Instead it settled into a fairly good, strong-flavored smoke, with a mix of strong coffee and earthy flavors, but it also exhibited a classic strong spicy dimension, especially dominant on the finish. Many cigar smokers like this kind of spiciness in their cigars, though I prefer a much lighter spicy flavor. The cigar was definitely a full flavored and full strength cigar.
RATING: 8.8 (on a scale of 1 to 10)
The burn on this cigar was very good, struggling once nearing the end of the smoke. I did not take it down to the nub, as its strength was getting to me. A full flavored and full strength cigar of this nature is often enjoyed best after a heavy dinner, and my next Partagas Black will be enjoyed after a good steak. My pairing was also poor for this cigar -- a salty dirty martini was not the best choice. A port wine or after-dinner brandy would be better.
Keep the comments and recommendations coming – email: firstname.lastname@example.org
An Ironic Cigar Quote
"What this country needs is a really good five-cent cigar." - Thomas Riley Marshall, Vice President of the United States from 1913 to 1921.
DISCLAIMER: At the risk of sounding too much like a TV commercial, I do want to sincerely state: This feature is NOT intended to advocate the smoking of cigars any more or any less than you already do, nor do I intend to influence the non-smoker to begin smoking cigars. Make no mistake about it; CIGAR SMOKING MAY BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH.