CEO, General Cigar Company
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Cullman: It's very exciting.
CA: But the bottom line is that the ending of the embargo will have a tremendous positive impact on cigar awareness and cigar consumption in the United States.
Cullman: I agree with that 100 percent. There's nothing to say that our Partagas or our Macanudo couldn't be blended with Havana tobacco in ways that improve our cigars but don't necessarily make them Havana cigars.
CA: This interview would not be complete without talking about and asking for your reaction regarding the article that appeared recently in The New York Times by Jane Brody on the negative impact of cigar smoking on one's health. As a leading executive in the cigar business, I would like to know--I think our readers would like to know--your reaction to it.
Cullman: This is a tricky subject. Unfortunately, tobacco and health have been in the headlines for many, many years. Since I'm not a scientist, it's very difficult for me to talk with great authority. But I can say this, that Jane Brody certainly stirred the pot. One of the studies that she quoted was a 1972 study and was way out of date. And many of these studies are based on cigar smokers outside the United States, mostly in Europe, who smoke small cigars, little cigars that are more like cigarettes than they are like cigars and are smoked in large quantities. We're finding in today's surge of cigar smoking that most cigar smokers may be smoking one cigar a day, maximum two, more likely one or two a week as opposed to one or two a day. They use it for relaxation. They use it for the enjoyment of companionship. I firmly believe that, as you have discovered in the wine and spirits industry, that products used in moderation can be of benefit to the psyche, to the general well-being of the individual as opposed to a real harm. The cigar is consumed in a very different way than a cigarette is. It's consumed without inhaling, it's consumed very infrequently, and it's not a habit. It's part of a lifestyle.