After an aggressive campaign from several health groups and three U.S. Senators, Camacho Cigars will no longer sponsor tomorrow’s Orange Bowl. Members of the Orange Bowl Committee and the Pinellas Park, Florida, company, a unit of Switzerland's Davidoff of Geneva, agreed that it was the best decision in light of the circumstances.
“This is not what either of our organizations envisioned when we set up our partnership,” said Dylan Austin, head of marketing for Camacho. “Our support for the decision that was ultimately taken was out of respect for the history and long-term community involvement of the Orange Bowl Committee.”
The issue came to a head just before Christmas, when several health organizations, including some aimed at preventing childhood tobacco use, sent an open letter to both the Orange Bowl Committee and the NCAA asking them to remove the sponsorship and cancel the three-year agreement.
Senators Dick Durbin, Frank Lautenberg, and Richard Blumental, all Democrats, joined in the call to remove the sponsorship from the January 4 college football game. The organizations claim Camacho's sponsorship will be seen as an NCAA endorsement of smoking, and that children will associate the brand with role models in the collegiate athletics community.
Camacho is disappointed to see the partnership go. “Whenever a company like ours gives up the opportunity to promote a legal product, which is manufactured, marketed and sold exclusively for and to adults, it is unfortunate. It is also unfortunate that we have forfeited an opportunity to contribute, through our partnership, to a first class south Florida organization that is highly regarded and very proactive in the community,” said Austin.
Under the agreement, Camacho would have had a presence for the Orange Bowl at Sun Life stadium that would include smoking lounge areas open to fans during pre-game events. Lounges would be constructed in areas already designated for smoking. Camacho Cigars was among more than 50 partners in a sponsor list that included Stella Artois and Bacardi, two brands that produce adult beverages.