The French cigar industry knew it would happen. The official text will be released tomorrow but a few months after the law on the plain packaging for cigarettes entered in effect, the French Minister of Health, Marisol Touraine, already confirmed today that some cigar brands whose name may connote an idea of “social standing, good life or qualities like masculinity or elegance” will be forbidden. Industrials and importers will have two years to remove them from the shelves. Firsts brands to be announced in the medias : Punch, Paradiso and (for the cigarillos) Café crème. Probably much more.
Update February 3, 2017:
The official decree, online since today, mentions every single tobacco product allowed to be sold in France. All the cigar products that will have to be removed within the next two years are followed by an asterisk, which means “Approved for one year after the coming into force of the by-law (all tobacco products), except for cigars for which the registration period is two years.”
The list contains some surprises and some contradictions. Some items in one brand are forbidden, some others are not…
Among the cigars listed, to be forbidden: all the Café Crème lines, Bolívar Belicosos Finos (the rest of the line is approved), Cohiba Esplendidos, Exquisitos, Genios, Lanceros and Magicos, Cuaba Distinguidos, H. Upmann Majestic, Hoyo de Monterrey Hoyo du Gourmet, Punch Double Coronas, Punch Coronations (though the Punch Royal Selection N°11 & N°12 remain legal), Romeo y Julieta Cedros de Luxe N°1, 2, 3 & Romeo y Julieta Fabulosos, San Cristobal de la Habana La Fuerza, most of the Villiger Premium line, Davidoff Exquisitos and Davidoff Signature Exquisitos, Padrón 1964 Anniversario Principe Natural (though the Maduro and Torpedo Maduro remain accepted), Flor de Selva El Galan, Flor de Selva Fino, Flor de Selva Bouquet El Galan, Flor de Selva Bouquet Fino, Ashton VSG Enchantment, Casa Magna Extraordinario, the entire Oliva Serie V line, the Paradiso line (except the Supremo) and the entire Asylum Premium line. No trouble though for cigars carrying Al Capone or Hemingway in their name.
“We expected this”, says Sandro Stroili, one of the biggest French importers (Rocky Patel, Ashton, Oliva, La Flor Dominicana, Tatuaje…). “But as for the brands I import, I feel quite satisfied. I fought for about a hundred of references to be maintained and most of them are still there. But the fight goes on. Now, the brand owners have to ask their lawyers to fight back.”