With a population 1/10th the size of the United States and no real reputation for tobacco production, why should you trust the opinions of a group of Canadians over your fellow American smokers? I’ll tell you why.
Yes, Canadians get the Cubans, but the amazing boutique brands that come through the USA are impossible to buy – they simply aren’t available. There’s a perception that we love our Cubans and don’t want to smoke anything else. And for a large portion of new smokers in Canada the belief is that the Cuban is the only cigar to smoke. The education process is difficult and it takes the word of an experienced friend to sway the loyal Habanos fan. If we want to try something truly unique, it means travelling somewhere where we can actually get it or arranging that nail-biting, cross-border trade.
In addition to limited brands we also pay very high prices. You think the taxes in your state are high? Think again.
Let’s say a Canadian importer pays $3 to purchase a cigar from the manufacturer. They are immediately charged two different types of duty. Duty on the tobacco, and a second duty on it being in the form of a cigar which in total works out to around $0.45 for our imaginary cigar. Then the government estimates the retail price of that cigar by adding 22% to the manufacturer’s cost so far. Now take that new price and give the the importer a little mark up for his hard work, say 50 cents. Now add another 56% on top of that as tobacco tax (not tobacco import tax – that’s different). Now we’re at nearly $7.00! The retailer is given his share for his hard work and so marks it up a bit more and then charges an additional 13% sales tax onto that, in most provinces. Once this is added you’re looking at around $8.50 per cigar for what is $3 in the USA. Do that with a $10 cigar and you’re at around $23 in Canada.
How does this translate into trusting the opinion of a Canadian? The Canadian dollar is fairly close to the USD and our minimum wage is generally in the same range as well. Let’s say the average every day Joe is making a modest $15/h – just an honest guy working hard to make a living.
A $10 cigar in the USA may sound expensive and for your $15/h worker this took 40 minutes to earn! For the Canadian who wants to smoke the same cigar you’re looking at well over an hour and a half of work! Let’s take it another step. A high-end cigar like a Padron 1926 that costs you $26 in the USA (an hour forty-five of work) now costs the Canadian 5 hours of work! Remember, we’re making around the same wage here.
When you’ve spent 30 minutes to earn a cigar and it doesn’t burn well, gets plugged, explodes or has a tear, it’s not a big loss in terms of having a cigar. But when you’ve worked two hours or nearly an entire day for that cigar, it better not fall apart, funnel or canoe (although we love our canoes up here – haha.) In general, any cigar worth smoking in Canada is going to cost you at least $12 for a robusto.
Canadians must demand that a cigar be perfect every time. The construction must be excellent. The flavours must be incredible. The company must earn their respect. If not, we simply will never try that cigar again. You have one chance to make it perfectly.
And while we’re at it, our booze can be a bit pricier as well. Ron Zacapa Solera 23 is around $80 here while in Miami it was $33!
“If you bought a bottle of wine in a restaurant and the cork wouldn’t come out and the waiter said ‘it’s a handmade product so sometimes that happens’, this wouldn’t be a good enough excuse. It’s the same thing with a cigar. If it’s plugged, keeps going out or wont burn straight, it’s because it was made wrong. And that’s not good enough.”
Next time you’re smoking a cigar ask yourself, “if this was 3 times the cost, would it still be worth smoking?” That’s the same question a Canadian cigar smoker has to ask himself every time he lights up. That’s why when he chooses to smoke a cigar, it better be good.
Need more proof on how much we pay? Check out this guys story: