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Republicans Find a Way to Smoke at Convention

Andrew Nagy
Posted: September 4, 2008
Updated September 5

A hospitality tent co-sponsored by C.A.O International Inc. offered cigar smokers attending the Republican National Convention in Saint Paul, Minnesota, a place to light up without violating the citywide public smoking ban.

"[The tent] was one of the only places in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where you could enjoy a cigar," said Frank Kapp of C.A.O.

C.A.O teamed up with the America Media Institute, a project of the nonprofit Liberty Institute, to try and provide what they called "a relaxing oasis in which to meet and mingle, while eating, drinking and smoking."

The hospitality tent was located at the Saint Paul College Club, about two miles from the convention, and was catered. The tent boasted many C.A.O. products that were set up as if they were displayed in a cigar shop. Smokers could pick and choose their cigar and then a worker would cut and light it for the customer.

On Wednesday night, former New York mayor and Cigar Aficionado cover subject Rudy Giuliani visited the tent, according to C.A.O., and spoke to a crowd of about 250. In wake of the devastation left by Hurricane Gustav, the proceeds from that night went to the Red Cross to help the survivors.

To comply with the citywide ban, 51 percent of the public area needed to be open air, and so the tent sides were left open.

Kapp said the Republicans seemed to favor C.A.O.'s America and Gold cigars.

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