For the sixth time, Darren Cioffi, owner and founder of Nashville, TN-based Principle Cigars has broken the world record in slow smoking a cigar.
On June 15, 2018 at the Cigar Smoking World Championship (CSWC) Qualification Tournament in Bucharest, Romania, Cioffi set the new world record with a smoking time of 3 hours, 24 minutes and 27 seconds. The previous record was held by Oleg Pedan of St. Petersburg, Russia, with a time of 3 hours, 14 minutes and 36 seconds.
Marko Bilic, president and founder of Cigar Club Mareva in Split, Croatia, founded the CSWC in 2010. It is comprised of a series of qualifying tournaments in countries around the world each year during which competitors attempt to smoke a very small cigar on a single light.
“As founder and one of the judges of this competition, I can’t have a favorite competitor in this challenge, but based on my experience as an eyewitness of this competition around the world I can for sure say that Darren Cioffi is a game changer and a game creator. He is true talent powered by a positive competitive spirit. He continually sets the bar for slow smokersat a higher level,” Bilic said.
“After an almost one and half year retirement [from the competition] he came back to remind all of the best competitors the reasons why they should never forget about the greatest one there will be. He is one of the most awarded men in this very, very demanding and growing challenge,” Bilic said.
Club Mareva establishes the rules for all the qualifying competitions, which involve the slow smoking of a Mareva-size cigar. Normally enjoyed in about 25 minutes, the challenge is for participants to make their cigar smoke continually for the longest period of time without allowing it to extinguish.
“When I first heard about the idea for a world championship in cigar smoking I thought, ‘these people are crazy’ only to find out later that the CSWC is not just a gentlemen’s game, it is a perfect reason to get together with the cigar family all around the globe,” said Reinhold C. Widmayer, editor-in-chief of Cigar Journal magazine.
The CSWC currently holds around 35 qualifying tournaments in countries all over the world. The annual world championship event is held in September in Split, Croatia.
“The CSWC is a dynamic initiative that brings a convivial competitive spirit to the cigar lifestyle. It embraces people from all over the world and all walks of life, challenging themselves to enjoy a cigar for as long as they can. By its unique nature it has attracted and sparked curiosity, which has created a strong following to this tournament,” said Mahesh P. Ramnani, Managing Director of Rasa Trading Company, European distributor of cigars including Arturo Fuente, Davidoff and Principle Cigars.
Cioffi entered his very first CSWC competition in 2014. That year he set a new world record and became the first American to win the world championship.
“Prior to my involvement with the CSWC, it was dominated mainly by Russian competitors,” Cioffi said. “After the 2014 World Championship, I continued to compete and won a dozen or so qualifying tournaments. Russian smokers continued to up their game and the record went back and forth between them and me for a while.”
Cioffi set new world records five times from 2014 – 2016. He then retired from competing to focus more on Principle Cigars and to help promote and expand the CSWC. During his absence from the sport, the Russians dominated once again.
“My previous best time was about 2 hours and 50 minutes. Since I stopped competing, they had pushed the record up to around 3 hours and 14 minutes. At the competition in Bucharest I really just felt like smoking a cigar so decided to compete at the last minute. Needless to say, I was very happy to top the record by 10 minutes and probably as shocked as everyone else – especially after not having done this for a year,” Cioffi said.