Our unfortunate reality...

Over the past few decades cigar smoking has transitioned. Worldwide it has become more accessible and far more affordable than it once was, It has become more 'mainstream' if you will.

There is a 'family' or brotherhood element that has emerged because everyday people have found a passion for cigar smoking and then found enjoyment in sharing that with others.


Sadly tho, here in New Zealand, things have been drastically changing in recent years, and are set to continue to get harder into the near and distant future.


Let's dive into the 'war on tobacco' and the problems that COVID-19 add into the mix.



The War on Tobacco...

New Zealand has seeming declared a war on all tobacco. In an effort to reduce the number of cigarette smokers, our leaders have chosen to take a hard approach and aim for 'smokefree NZ' - currently by 2025...


Sadly, we as cigar smokers are not seen separately to cigarette smokers and this government 'goal' has already had huge effects on us.


Taxes:

One of the most noticeable changes is the cost. While New Zealand has had very high taxes on tobacco for a long time now, in the last 5 years it has skyrocketed.

With a 10% rise each January, sitting on top of an already huge number, we currently pay around 900-1200% duty on top of the cost of a cigar... yip, 900-1200% duty... The government in New Zealand, makes at least 10x as much money from the sale of each cigar, than any other single person in the chain, from factory to your door. Read that again and let it sink in...


It's almost enough to make you wonder if there is actually a financial reason for them moving the smoke-free target from 2022 to 2025 right? I wonder if it will move again?


Either way, the effect this has on our own pockets is huge making cigars cost roughly 10x what they do in places like the USA.


Access:

Canteros has just opened the largest walk in humidor in New Zealand. yet, due to government restrictions, none of us will ever be allowed inside.

Furthermore the staff won't even be able to tell you about the cigars they have in there! They can pass you a plain text list, but; no photos, no reviews, no recommendations... You will literally need to sit there with the list and google the options to find out more about them.

This, coupled with 'smokefree areas' increasing across the country (even public outdoor spaces!) and continued increasing restrictions on venues and events providing smoking areas, may see us soon only able to smoke within our own properties.


Packaging

The requirement for plain packaging might not seem like a big thing to the end user, but this is also adding un-needed cost to our cigars.


In order to deliver plain packaging, retailers need to:

  • Have the packaging made themselves

  • Pay staff to wrap the plain band around every cigar

  • Pay staff to put the plain wrapped cigars into the specially made plain packaging

And then, process the order as per normal. These additional steps and the time it takes for them to arrange, and order, the manufacture of the plain packaging, adds additional costs to the products.


To me, this step is completely unnecessary. If we are not allow to see the product until we have purchased it, why does is need to arrive in plain packaging?



COVID-19

Ok, so I'm not going to get all 'wow-is-us' on the covid front, as there are many people around the world having it a lot harder than we are, but there are a few direct effects that Covid is having on cigar costs and supply that are worth mentioning.


Right now COVID-19 is hitting Central America hard; the word from Nicaragua is grim. sadly - this is not a rich country, and not one with a great deal of a health system; so while the Western world can handle slowing down a fast moving flu; they simply cannot.

On top of that they are facing increased energy, interest rates, inflation and freight costs as well as a domestic labour shortage.


Steve Saka has noted there are already shortages and delays in the raw tobacco leaf production, as he puts it this will see a major shortage in finished goods and potentially in the quality of goods being produced


Right now New Zealand is starting to see these issues with constant price increases across the board from international suppliers, which obv affects our retailers and in turn, us, and shortages are already seen in a few 'standard lines' being on backorder here.

The word from our largest importer is that in the short term future "your favourite cigar may not always be in stock" but they are taking measures to ensure that there are plenty of options available to us.


Freight is another big issue for us here in NZ. During the past year in the world of covid, a shortage in planes taking off has seen shipping charges to New Zealand from DHL, FedEx & UPS double!

Additionally, the news that USPS are halting shipping to NZ completely for the foreseeable future is a problem as less options mean more of a monopoly.


So there you have it, the lay of the land if you will, and while it may look a little bleak, I guess we need to stick to our kiwi guns and say she'll be right?



- Don José









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Enjoy your read with a good cigar.