The CRA Tour - Getting Started

Last night I joined about 300 people who lit up smokes in the name of fighting for their right to enjoy a fine cigar. We stood atop the Hudson Terrace rooftop lounge on the West Side of Manhattan, getting the Cigar Rights of America Freedom Tour started in style. With an open bar and plenty of fine cigars, the cigar industry got things going in fine fashion.

“It’s humbling to see the amount of people here who are passionate about their right to smoke cigars,” said Michael Herklots, general manager of the Davidoff shops in Manhattan, while holding a smoldering cigar in his hand. His and other shops in New York City and Philadelphia sold tickets to the show.

The lions of the cigar industry were the stars of the night—Carlos Fuente Jr. spoke about the passion of making cigars, and the right for consumers to enjoy them in peace. “Long live the cigar—and long live our freedom!” he said.

Christian Eiroa, maker of Camacho Cigars and the one credited by his fellow comrades with thinking up the idea for the tour, asked the crowd: “When was the last time you smoked a cigar in a bar? There’s a very important aspect for us being here.”

Litto Gomez, the hat-wearing maker of La Flor Dominicana cigars, said “Are we going to let the anti-smoking people continue to kick our asses?” The crowd shouted “No.” Gomez promised: “The CRA is going to put up a big fight.”

The CRA was formed by Keith Park, owner of God of Fire cigars and Prometheus, and Jeff Borysiewicz, owner of Corona Cigar Co. Backed by most of the best-known premium cigarmakers in the world, the CRA is a consumer organization hoping to fight for the rights of cigar smokers across the United States.

“Our biggest enemy is complacency,” said Jorge Padrón, maker of Padrón Cigars.

It was a beautiful night, with just a hint of the coming fall in the clear air, and each manufacturer auctioned off rare boxes of their cigars to the happy crowd. “This was every retailer and every manufacturer working together,” said Herklots, giving a nod in particular to Cigar Inn of New York City, which sold 65 tickets to the event. “Everybody put business aside and brought passion to the table.”

This morning, the group of cigarmakers split, half going to Minneapolis and the other half (including myself) heading to Milwaukee. We’re going to smoke in the Midwest and Orlando to drum up support for the CRA.

To get more info on the CRA, go to And be sure to check my blog all this week to follow along with the tour.
Jeremy Ranke Wisconsin August 20, 2008 9:25pm ET
it was a pleasure to get a chance to meet and talk with you at tonights cra event, hopefully by banding together and mounting some opposition to these liberal attacks on our freedoms we can prevail. cause in the end, legal or not, i will enjoy my cigars. thanks for being there and representing the best cigar publication arround. -Jeremy R
Christian Aliperti August 22, 2008 12:37am ET
Dave, I had a great time meeting you and thought the NY turnout was great. It was nice to see the passion of the cigar manufacturers and the support from the retailers for the cause. The after party at the Grand Havana Room was great and I was fortunate enough to see the candid side of the cigar makers and I am even more impressed with their amazing passion for their products and the camaraderie of everybody there. Support this cause!
DAVE Savona New York August 22, 2008 2:30pm ET
Jeremy and Christian, nice to meet you.

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