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Edgar Cullman Jr.

CEO, General Cigar Company
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Demi Moore, Autumn 96

(continued from page 13)

Cullman: As I've said, we don't like to talk about numbers.

CA: You have brands like Garcia y Vega, White Owl, Tiparillos. Obviously, 20 years ago the volume was higher.

Cullman: [Emphatically] Much more.

CA: Where was the volume at its peak, and has there been any renaissance in those sales numbers?

Cullman: There were several peaks. The most recent peak for the entire industry was at the end of the '60s when the U.S. cigar industry hit 9 billion units in 1969 and 1970.

CA: What was your volume in that period?

Cullman: It was 1.8 billion units. From 1969 until 1993, there was a straight line decline in the industry from 9 billion to 2 billion or 2.1 billion, whatever it is. We probably suffered proportionately so, a little more, a little less, depending upon the year. But we had a very big business in 1969 in the small-cigar business. The Tiparillo and Tijuana Smalls were very, very big at that time. And it was because the first surgeon general's report on cigarette smoking came out [in 1964], many of the cigarette smokers turned to cigars as an alternative for a period of about four or five years. That created a major resurgence in the cigar business. Again, the cigar industry could not make enough cigars to fill the demand. That was short-lived, however, because it was based upon a false premise. The premise was the cigarette smokers could make a transition to cigars, and most of them could not. There just is a different taste, there's a different enjoyment level. I think the resurgence today has a very different foundation.

CA: What's happened between '92 and '96?

Cullman: What's happened is we had a big surge in all of our domestic-made cigars.

CA: Machine-made cigars?

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