Tobacconist University
Tobacco College

Tobacco College: Culture, Business, & Politics


1905 – Over 70,000 small cigar factories registered with the U.S. Government (maybe another 30,000 unregistered) and 7 out of 10 men smoked cigars in the United States.

1929 – Increasing cigarette consumption (due to industrialization), the advent of the cigar rolling machine, WWI, and the financial crash of 1929 all contribute to a substantially negative impact on the Cuban cigar industry. In addition, industrialization effects the pace of life, creating less time for the enjoyment of cigars.

1954 – The Sommelier Society of America opens its doors in the United States and begins educating wine enthusiasts.

1959 – Fidel Castro takes control of Cuba and announces that individual cigar brands are a thing of the past. The exodus of Cuban cigar makers begins...

1960 – Cuba quickly changes course and re-releases old cigar brands.
          – The Castro government begins the process of nationalizing privately owned tobacco farms. Great cigar makers like Cifuentes, Toraño, Menendez, and Palicio were forced into exile.

1966 - Birth of the famous Cuban Cohiba brand: created for Fidel Castro and later given away to V.I.P.s and Diplomats.

1982 – Commercial introduction of the Cuban Cohiba brand: made available for sale to the public.

1990s – Worldwide Cigar Renaissance

1994 – Cuban government creates Habanos S.A. which is in charge of global distribution and marketing for Cuban cigars.

1998 – Commercial introduction of the Trinidad brand. Production on the Trinidad brand started in 1980 exclusively for Fidel Castro. They were created for Cuba’s leader and as gifts for diplomats and high level guests. The brand was created to take the place of the Cohiba as Cuba’s most exclusive and prestigious cigar.

1999 – Swedish Match, Europe’s largest tobacco conglomerate, purchases the machine-made tobacco business from General Cigar (U.S. maker of Macanudo): including the brands Garcia Vega, White Owl, and Tiparillo.

1999 – SEITA S.A. , the French tobacco monopoly, buys U.S.-based Consolidated Cigar, maker of non-Cuban H. Upmann, Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, San Luis Rey and other famous premium brands.

Later that year SEITA S.A. merges with Spanish tobacco monopoly Tabacalera S.A to form Altadis, the largest buyer of Cuban tobacco in the world. (Consolidated Cigar becomes Altadis, USA)

2000 – Altadis completes 50% acquisition ($500 million) of Habanos S.A.: the global marketing and distribution division for Cuban cigars. Habanos has few physical assets, including ownership of Cuban brand names, an equity interest in Habanos retail stores around the world, and exclusive rights to distribute Cuban cigars.

2000 – Swedish Match purchases 64% of General Cigar (U.S. maker of Macanudo, Partagas, Punch, Hoyo de Monterrey and other premium brands).

2005 – Swedish Match finalizes 100% purchase of General Cigar.

2009 – President Obama signs the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, a law giving the FDA the power and authority to regulate all tobacco products, including cigars, pipe tobaccos, and even nicotine vapor products. A comprehensive history of the FDA’s regulation of cigars can be found here:

2016 – No new cigars or pipe tobaccos can enter the market after August 8, without FDA "approval", per the new FDA regulations. In addition, onerous new packaging/labeling laws have been created and free samples have been outlawed!

So, the "Golden Age of Cigar Making" transitions into the "Dark Age of Cigar Making" and now we face a new set of historical challenges; both social and economic. Over the last quarter century the premium cigar industry (as well as cigarette, snuff, pipe tobaccos, and machine-made cigars) has consolidated into a handful of very large multi-national corporations. In addition, large companies like Altadis, General Cigar Co., and Davidoff have significantly grown their direct-to-consumer business through retail and mail-order sales. These larger companies are well positioned to exploit the new FDA regulations and grow their businesses while smaller companies are unable to compete.

Over-regulation and mass-production can threaten the individual creativity and passion needed to create extraordinary cigars, pipes, and pipe tobaccos. As you will soon learn, no great cigar or pipe maker could be purely motivated by profits or production quotas. By nature, cigar and pipe making is risky, unpredictable, and both capital and labor intensive: the type of endeavor only a zealot could pursue. Great cigar/pipe makers are motivated by one uncompromising ambition: the desire to create the best cigar/pipe possible.

Certified R&D Tobacconists: United States

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Joseph Pasquali, CRTRudys Shop
Fort Wayne, IN - United States
(260) 451-0115

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Rami Abbouna, CRTSmokers Land
San Diego, CA - United States
(858) 484-7373

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Graymond Martin, CRTMayan Import Company
New Orleans, LA - United States
(504) 269-9000

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