Smoke Free Ontario
Government interference into the private activities of ordinary Ontarians continued on January 1 of this year when new regulations to the Smoke Free Ontario kicked in. These changes dramatically altered the way tobacco is sold and enjoyed in Ontario. The biggest impact is the ban on all patio’s where food and beverages are sold, which limits the places Cigar Studio is able to host our events.
This is not the first time that the government has encroached on our personal freedoms –like the freedom of the bar owner to run their establishment as they see fit or the freedom of cigar smokers to enjoy a legal product. That the government levies huge taxes on cigars yet profits financially from their purchase while limiting consumers ability to enjoy that product to a few places, is in itself a big hypocrisy. I know of many non-smokers who defend our right to enjoy a legal product because of their concern that the government appears willing to go after legal public activities that they deem socially unacceptable. What’s next? “No cheeseburgers for you, you could lose a few pounds”?
We must and will comply with the new laws and are looking for legal alternate sites and will let you know where our next event will be. In the meantime, we have had Toronto Public Health to the shop and our small table out front is legal, as is our “lounge” on Saturdays across the street.
Habanos Festival 2015
Each year in February, Habanos SA, the Cuban tobacco monopoly, hosts the largest trade show in the world focused exclusively on Cuban cigars. From the Monday Opening Night reception to the Friday night Gala Dinner (the latter attended by Paris Hilton and Naomi Campbell), the week is a blur of blue tobacco smoke. In between, are receptions, lunches, tastings, rum sampling, great jazz and dinners held in many of the new private restaurants that have popped up over the years. There is even a brewpub that has opened in Old Havana. This year’s new cigar releases highlighted exclusive products for the La Casa del Habano stores worldwide, the new Gran Reserva RYJ Wide Churchill, and a new Regional Cigar for Canada from Flor d Cana. But the grand slam was one of the cigars given out at the gala on Friday Night, a night devoted to everything Montecristo. 1500 guests were given the first chance to smoke the new Montecristo 80th Anniversary. What a cigar! That same night Mehran Aryafar of Toronto successfully bid on a humidor – ready for this – for E97, 500 euros, about $140,000 Canadian. Only in Havana!
Our trip to Estelli to visit the AJ Fernandez factory and fields in February was a highlight of the winter. That it was 80° there while minus 30° here was the added bonus. AJ and his #1 guy Ricki were great hosts. We enjoyed way too much local rum and smoked many of the best cigars from his factory. This factory is the supplier of the our Nicaraguan Private Label program. But where AJ really shines is in the tobacco fields with the growing, curing and aging of his tobacco. And why not since AJ was born and raised in the fields Pinar del Rio, Cuba. World class cigar manufacturers like Padron, Rockey Patel and Davidoff buy tobacco from him. Overall just a first class operation.