How Covid-19 affects tobacconists and consumers

In these days of uncertainty and crises you might want to know how tobacconists – and therefore you as a consumer – are affected by the various restrictions. We took a random look around the world.

Spain (Javier Blanco Urgoiti reports)

In Spain there are about 13,000 tobacco retail shops of which 300 to 400 are equipped with a walk in-humidor or humidor vitrines. All Estancos have to keep their doors open for 44 hours a week. Masks and gloves are mandatory and only one costumer at a time can enter the shop.

Italy (Gino Ianillo reports)

Tobacconists in Italy are obligated to offer their services for a minimum of 8 hours a day (Monday–Saturday) unless they close for holidays.

Austria (Reinhold C. Widmayer reports)

There are roughly 5,000 tobacco retail shops in the country. Approximately 200 take cigars seriously. All tobacconists are allowed to keep their stores open during the government shutdown. However, they may reduce their service to 4 hours per day (Monday–Friday) or totally close their shop for a maximum of 5 weeks.

Malaysia (Sam Spurr reports)

The whole country started a shutdown on March 17, 2020. Only essential services and supermarkets may stay open. Tobacconists are not considered “essential”.

Sweden (Simon Lundh reports)

At this moment, in Sweden life goes on like business as usual. All shops are open, including tobacco shops like Broberg’s. Some shopping malls announced to cut down their opening time by two hours a day, which will affect some tobacconists located within.

France (Guillaume Tesson reports)

Most tobacco shops are open in the France. Since employees are allowed to stay home rather than to go to work during the crises, some tobacconists may be closed due to this regulation.

Germany / Northrhine-Westfalia (Volker Schaeffner reports)

There seem to be no strict rules in this part of Germany. Most of the tobacconists keep their shops open. At Cigarworld Benden in Dusseldorf for instance, the retail service is fully functioning (10am–8pm). However, their cigar lounge remains closed.

Germany / Berlin-Brandenburg (Reinhold C. Widmayer reports)

Zigarren Herzog with 3 locations in Germany’s capitol is the biggest retailer in Berlin. They came up with the following solution: Customers may call in with their orders and pick it up themselves or have the order delivered. Of course, their online store is operating as usual as well.

Germany / in general (Jens Tausch reports)

Update March 20.:
Weekly markets, retail food stores, beverage markets, pick-up and delivery services,  (…) petrol stations, (…) wholesale trade may remain open. The sale of newspapers is also still permitted. The Sunday sales bans will be suspended in principle for these business lines between 12.00 and 18.00 hrs until further notice.

Before the implementation by the federal government and the federal states, Torsten Löffler, President of the Federal Association of Tobacco Retailers (Bundesverband des Tabakwaren-Einzelhandels – BTWE), had pointed out in a letter to Chancellor Angela Merkel and various federal ministers that the tobacco retail trade “in many cases with a deep and broad press assortment is a guarantor for the supply of the population with newspapers and magazines which are explicitly exempted from sales bans in the agreement between the federal government and the federal states”.

There is still great uncertainty in the retail trade for tobacco products and lotteries.

Meanwhile, several tobacco retailers have closed their shops for now. Among them are for example No 7 in Augsburg, Pfeifen Huber in Munich, Tabak-Kontor Leipzig or Falkum in Miltenberg. (source DTZ)

Panama (Jorge Tapies reports)

All cigar shops are closed and so is the Panama Cigar Club, as gatherings of people are prohibited. All measures are monitored by inspectors on the streets.

USA / Miami (Vincent Duran reports)

So far the cigar shops are open in Miami and obviously in most US States. It looks like Floridians are buying there cigars as usual but prefer to smoke them at home rather than at the cigar store. Miami Beach closed all bars and restaurants on March 17 at 10pm. The Premium Cigar Association (PCA) noted in a letter to all members: “The CDC has recently updated it’s recommendations to no gatherings of 10 or more people, changed from 50 people yesterday. PCA recommends each retailer does what they feel best in the interest of the safety and health of their employees and their customers.”

USA / New Hampshire (Reinhold C. Widmayer reports)

Two Guys Smoke Shop, a cigar retailer with shops in Nashua NH, Salem NH and Seabrook NH, is offering Curbside Service.  Curbside, meaning you can buy your cigars online or over the phone and pick up cigars at any Two Guys Smoke Shop location of your choice. License and proof of age is required.  “This is nothing new for us” said David Garofalo, owner and founder of Two Guys Smoke Shop, “we have been doing it for years for our handicapped customers and for people who are simply on the run.”  All three locations are still open for business and welcome all customers.

USA New Jersey (George Manzella reports)

In New Jersey, and most states in the USA, there is an 8pm curfew. All cigar lounges/shops have to be closed by 8pm. Most locations have closed their lounges completely and only offer grab and go, take out purchases. A few other precautions they are taking is, no community cutters or lighters and customers can not touch the cigars in the humidor if they don’t have cellophane on them. Only the employees with gloves on may touch the cigars. And of course, a lot of cleaning and hand sanitizer is available in the shops.

Turkey (Cem Erten reports)

The shops in Turkey are functioning as usual. It is up to the store owner to decide. La Casa del Habano in Istanbul is open but facing difficulties with their supply. All bars and night clubs are closed, though. It may be difficult to find a cozy place to enjoy a cigar. The government is evaluating the situation and may close all shops at any given date.

Great Britain (Nick Hammond reports)

Shops are open as normal and reporting an understandable reduction in footfall. Hunters & Frankau (the exclusive Habanos distributor) are delivering as usual, and stocks are good. The message is that cigar smokers can arrange pick up of their cigars at their chosen shop – or arrange delivery. “I’d ask our customers to keep on buying what they would normally buy,” says Stephen Johnstone of Robert Graham 1874. “We can deliver them to you no problem, but at the moment our staff are all here to help and we are maintaining a meticulous hygiene regime store by store. All our staff are currently operating a white glove service when handling cigars and goods. A lot of us in the cigar world are small businesses and we will need your support to help us get through this to the other side.”

Switzerland (Reinhold C. Widmayer reports)

All cigar lounges are closed by governmental control. Some hotels might be exempt, though. According to René Wagner at Zurich’s Tabaklaedeli, cigar stores are forced to keep their stores closed until April 19, 2020. However, customers are ordering online and cigars are being shipped.

Hong Kong (Eric Piras reports)

Hong Kong cigar bars are open and taking precaution measures to protect their customers. Eric Piras, owner of Bertie cigars: “From today, guests entering Bertie Cigars will be asked to sign a self-declaration form, stating that they and their families have not left Hong Kong within the past 14 days. And we ask guests who have been travelling not to visit Bertie until 14 days after their return to Hong Kong.” Cigars are also delivered to customers.

Brazil (Alexandre Lucido de Avellar reports)

Cigar shops are open in Brazil. No cigar events are prohibited, but cigar shops are cancelling many of them to avoid gib gatherings. Customers can still use lounges at cigar stores. People seem to avoid unnecessary errands, but stores remain open.

Finland (Petteri Patjas reports)

In Finland shops are still open – including the very few tobacco stores that we have left. We also decided to keep the only two official private cigar clubs open for members only, guests are not allowed at the club premises at this time. The need for a cigar sanctuary is now greater than ever!

Denmark (Simon Lundh reports)

The Danish Pipe Shop will close from Saturday, March 21 to April 13.

Norway (Simon Lundh reports)

The tobacco shops are still open.

Belgium (Ben Vinken reports)

In Belgium cigar shops are closed until April 3rd. Exceptions: newspaper kiosk or food shops that also sell cigars.



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