13th May2011

Seal Team 6 lights up; Maryland Institutes Ban; Titantic’s cigar box

by GoodFellasCigars

SEAL Team 6 Celebrates With Gurkha Cigar

MIAMI, May 9, 2011  /PRNewswire/ Heading the week after a successful mission by the Special Operations Team known as the Navy SEALs, the team celebrates with a handmade luxury cigar. The military is known quite well through the premium cigar market as many cigar manufacturers support our troops overseas with product, sponsorship and encouragement. If you open any Cigar Magazine, you will note photos of our troops celebrating with a premium cigar, hoping to relax with a taste of comfort in a sometimes very uncomfortable place.

(Photo:  http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20110509/CG97634 )

Gurkha Cigars, having a longstanding relationship with the Special Operations segments of our military released a SpecOps limited edition cigar last year, inspired by the Navy SEALs. The box of 20 sticks includes a knife and a challenge coin designed specifically for the military. Instead of a traditional cigar box, the package used is a pelican case, similar to those designed by the military to transport sensitive equipment and weapons. In this case, the fragile contents are a collection of the Gurkha Assassin, a trademarked rarity used by Gurkha Cigars for several years now. Only recently in Pakistan has the light come to shine on what the military ordinarily does quietly.

So what does SpecOps Team 6 celebrate with? A Gurkha Grand Reserve sent specially by Kaizad Hansotia, owner of Gurkha Cigars to his friends in the Navy. Gurkha has been known more recently as the world’s most expensive cigar, releasing the Black Dragon in 2007. Gurkha has the premium cigar market redefined from their $20,000 boxes of ‘HMRs’ to their special collector’s edition that demands over $150,000 for a box of cigars.

Now seen as a status symbol of luxury and the Rolls Royce of cigars, Gurkha continues to be the choice when a celebration in necessary. “Our focus has always been on exclusive, limited availability tobaccos, serving up the most unique and flavorful blends,” said Hansotia, affectionately known in the industry as ‘Kaizer.’

“When you are smoking a Gurkha you know three things: it’s expensive, it’s good, and a celebration is in order,” said Hansotia. The Gurkha brand has a long history in exclusive trade and in support of the military. Originating in India as British settlers opened trade routes; the name continues the tradition of rarities from distant lands in support of ancient warriors and today is no different. Focusing specifically on the limited and exclusive lots of cigar tobacco has caused Gurkha’s reputation to rise from a long history of premium cigar

About Gurkha:

Gurkha Cigars is one of the most famous brands of luxury cigars in the world.  Gurkha is known for limited release and rare tobacco products and the line is available at cigar retailers worldwide. With its extraordinary quality and premium blends of tobacco, Gurkha’s cigar brands include the Grand Reserve, Elegance and Shaggy. Created in 1989 and based in Miami, Florida the Gurkha brand is wholly owned by the Beach Cigar Group Inc, privately held and led by President, Kaizad (Kaizer) Hansotia.

SOURCE Gurkha Cigars

 

Maryland shipment ban has cigar enthusiasts all fired up

Jay Hancock

12:33 p.m. EDT, May 13, 2011, The Baltimore Sun

Sometimes Bruce Parrish likes to smoke a Fuente Fuente OpusX when he mows his Westminster lawn. He can’t buy the $20 Dominicans, described by Cigar.com as “perhaps the rarest and highest rated brand in the world,” at his local tobacconist, he says.

So he takes advantage of the modern economy and orders them online from Pennsylvania, whence they arrive by mail. Or at least they used to.

Starting May 1 it became illegal to ship cigars directly to Maryland consumers, according to an interpretation of a 2010 law by Comptroller Peter Franchot. As a result, smokers have been bombarding Franchot with combustible emails.

“If they’re going to apply that to a tobacco product, the next thing is going to be you can’t buy clothing online — or you can’t buy anything online,” says Parrish, a 50-year-old software engineer. “Just another example of the nanny liberals taking away our rights.”

It’s a complex issue touching on tax collection, tax fairness and interstate commerce. Even cigar dealers seem to have mixed feelings, with some Maryland store owners reportedly favoring the restrictions on out-of-state competitors with mail-order businesses.

But Maryland has outlawed mailed cigars at precisely the same time that it’s starting to allow consumer wine shipments. One sin is restricted, the other abetted. If that doesn’t tell you that nonsense still rules in the regulation and taxation of Internet retailing, you’ve been indulging in too many Cusanos and cabernets.

Curiously for a place with tight cigarette regulation, Maryland was until May 1 the rare state that didn’t make sellers of cigars and pipe and chewing tobacco be licensed. Fearing that smugglers and rogue dealers were cheating on taxes, Franchot asked the 2010 legislature to require licenses for purveyors of these “other tobacco products” and to make wholesalers responsible for paying the tax.

The law also outlawed direct shipments to consumers, even for law-abiding cigar fanatics who had set up accounts with Franchot’s office and paid the tax themselves, according to the comptroller.

“Cigar enthusiasts across Maryland have flooded our emails and phone lines” with complaints, says Brian Berman, membership director for Cigar Rights of America, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Virginia.

Philadelphia-based Holt’s Cigar Co., where Parrish gets some of his supply, sent customers an email Tuesday describing the new Maryland law as “unconstitutional, anti-freedom, anti-choice and wholly un-American” and urged them to contact Franchot.

Most states, including Maryland, ban Internet cigarette sales. But few have tried to outlaw or restrict consumer cigar shipments, says Chris McCalla, legislative director for the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association, based in Georgia.

Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Maine law that required delivery drivers to confirm that buyers of cigarettes or cigars were at least 18 years old. The court ruled that federal law preempted the regulation Maine was trying to impose, notes Kathleen Dachille, director of the Center for Tobacco Regulation at the University of Maryland School of Law.

Some Maryland retailers told McCalla they favor the mail-order prohibition because it’ll keep out-of-state cigar bazaars from undercutting them by not charging Maryland’s excise tax, which can run as high as 15 percent.

Those dealers “are circumventing the tax system,” he said. “Therefore the price is going to be cheaper online.”

Under previous law, Maryland buyers of Internet cigars — not out-of-state stores — were responsible for paying taxes. But how many of them do you believe filled out Maryland’s “Other Tobacco Products Tax Return” form? Representatives from Philadelphia-based Holt’s did not return my calls.

Unless the underground cigar economy is a lot bigger than anybody imagines, there doesn’t seem to be a huge amount of tax money at stake. In fiscal 2010, Maryland collected $11 million in excise tax on cigars and pipe and chewing tobacco and roughly $4 million in sales tax.

Franchot’s office was sounding contrite as the emails piled up.

Banning shipments of premium cigars “was not really the main focus” of the bill, Franchot spokesman Joseph Shapiro said on Wednesday. Rather, he said, it was aimed at contraband cheap cigars and “these cigar aficionados kind of got caught up in this. … We weren’t thinking of the cigar-of-the-month person.”

Franchot is working with legislators to change the law so premium cigars could be ordered on the Web — so long as the tax collection is assured, Shapiro said Friday. The wine shipment law, which becomes effective July 1 and which Franchot supported, requires out-of-state dealers to be licensed and to collect Maryland taxes.

Such a setup for cigars and pipe tobacco may satisfy smokers such as Parrish, who says he’s happy to pay the tax and has “self reported” cigar taxes to Maryland.

But altering the law will take at least until the special legislative session in the fall. And even then it won’t keep stop enterprising aficionados from bypassing the tax the old-fashioned way.

Unlike Maryland, the District of Columbia doesn’t levy an excise tax on premium cigars, McCalla points out. Pennsylvania doesn’t put an excise tax on cigars or pipe tobacco. If you want to be your own delivery man, they aren’t that far away.

 

Cigar box found by Southport pensioner could fetch £20,000, after it was discovered it was owned by captain of Titanic

May 13 2011

By Adam Faulkner, Southport Visiter

A CIGAR box that belonged to the captain of the Titanic has been discovered gathering dust on top of a bedroom cabinet in Southport.

The walnut humidor carries the distinctive emblem of the White Star Line and bears the monogramme “EJS”, the initials of Edward John Smith, master of the ill-fated vessel.

It was identified by auctioneer John Crane after he was invited to value a number of antiques for pensioner Hilary Mee at her home.

It is expected to fetch between £10,000 and £20,000 at an auction in Liverpool on May 19.

Delighted Mr Crane said: “When I was handed this box the White Star Line logo immediately caught my eye.

“At first I couldn’t work out what the initials stood for, but when I got back to the office and did some research the penny dropped that it was Edward John Smith himself.

“This is a most astonishing find. I must confess a slight tingle went down my spine when I realised what it was.

“We’re approaching the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic, and yet a piece like this was there, waiting to come to light.

“It’s unique and probably one of the most important pieces of Titanic-associated memorabilia to come on the market in recent years.”

Experts have confirmed the provenance of the 12-inch wide humidor, which weighs three pounds, complete with its ivory white star and brass fittings.

The box, made from walnut and lined with camper wood, was designed to hold 40 of the finest Havana cigars.

Hilary Mee said that it had been given to her father, who is aged in his late 80s, by relatives of Captain Smith’s widow, Sarah.

Mrs Mee, 64, said: “We really had no idea of its connection to the Titanic. It’s just been lying round the house in a bedroom on top of a cabinet for nearly 20 years.”

 

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