I somehow missed this yesterday, but upon waking up and checking the Morning Call this morning I discovered this positively inane editorial from Paul Carpenter at the Morning Call. Spouting off glittery reviews of every eatery in the valley is one thing, but uninformed diatribe about new businesses in the valley is another.
The editorial comes a few days after the Morning Call scooped the story that Famous Smoke of Easton wants to put in a large cigar-friendly restaurant and bar. Mr. Carpenter goes on to falsely assert that since 1962 “no American has been able to legally purchase a top-notch cigar.” Although the trade embargo is ridiculous and stops citizens of the U.S. from buying Cuban cigars, things are not at all like portrayed in this piece of hack journalism.
He goes on to detail the illegalities of buying, smuggling, or smoking Cuban cigars and muses that if caught, “you may do the rest of your smoking in prison.” Obviously he hasn’t a clue, because at the border if you’re found with a box of Cubans they simply take them, destroy them, and send you on your merry way back into the country. No jail time, no nonsense. Officially they can fine you and do all sorts of nasty things, but take a look around the internet and you’ll find different stories. He then goes on to quote Havana Journal, who have nothing to do with cigars, saying that the Cohiba name was “stolen” by the Dominicans. Cohiba is one of the most well know and highest-praised brands of Cuban cigars in the world. There’s also another Cohiba in the Dominican Republic that distributes to the United States. The two are unrelated, however the name came to the Dominican after Cuban exiles fled during the revolution, went to the Dominican, and set up shop there. It’s not a simple case of a bunch of foreigners stealing a name.
He then goes on to compare these high quality, highly praised Dominican cigars to Chinese knock-offs, which is completely offensive to nearly everyone in the cigar hobby or industry. It really blows my mind that one of Famous Smoke’s own employees commented on the article and failed to point this out. Dominican, Nicaraguan, and other cigars of non-Cuban origin are outstanding to smoke, and are far from “knockoffs”. Go take a look at the Cigar Afficianado Top 25 for 2010. Only three of the cigars listed are from Cuba (although that includes the #1 place). In 2009 the top Cigar of the year went to a non-Cuban cigar. To say that any other country’s offerings are terrble, gag-worthy, and subpar is completely insane. I can say it for a fact, because I’ve smoked various Cuban cigars and I’ll take a Padron 1964 over 98% of them any day.
Considering the fact that two of the biggest retailers of cigars in the United States are located in the Lehigh Valley (Famous Smoke and Cigars International) and employ over 200 people, I would think this gentleman would do his research a little better. Again, I do not support the Cuban trade embargo but the falsities in his writing are glaring. I, too, applaud the Famous Smoke endeavor and I’ll be glad to go “gag on the knockoff cigars from the Dominican Republic.”