Cigars shortened to counter anti-smoking laws

2014-02-25 21:32
Habanos SA president Luis Sanchez Harguindey. (Yamil Lage, AFP)

Habanos SA president Luis Sanchez Harguindey. (Yamil Lage, AFP)

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Havana - Shorter cigars that can be savoured more quickly are Cuba's strategic response to global anti-tobacco campaigns.

"With restrictions around the world on where one can smoke, the logical answer is to provide the enjoyment of intense flavour in less time," Luis Sanchez-Harguindey, the co-president of Habanos SA, told AFP.

"Today's trend is to provide cigars to consumers that have a larger caliber but are shorter precisely so they can be smoked more quickly," the Spaniard said in an interview on the sidelines of Havana's annual cigar festival.

Habanos SA is a joint venture between Cuban state company Cubatabaco and the Franco-Spanish Altadis that was bought in 2008 by the British Imperial Tobacco Group.

One of the stars of the festival is one such new smoke - the Partagas D6 - that measures just 9cm in length. In contrast, the longest Havanas can traditionally be more than twice that long.

Puffing on the new product takes about 15 minutes, according to Habanos SA.

Younger consumers and women increasingly are being targeted with milder, more refined flavours.

"There are other brands, like Hoyo de Monterrey, that allow for the introduction of more delicate flavours, more meant for young people," said Sanchez-Harguindey, a non-smoker who took to cigars when he arrived in Cuba in 1998 while working for a foreign bank.

"Traditionally, the cigar smoker is a man who is middle aged or older, especially because of the price of cigars," he added. "The most expensive products, like the Cohiba, aren't in everyone's reach."

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