Sharing cigars with friends has been a Yuletide tradition since the practice began in Dickensian London, and it wasn’t long before the custom spread to the Continent and the United States. Although celebratory puffing continues to this day, the FDA—which now regulates all tobacco products in the US—is waffling over whether it should treat premium cigars as a separate luxury category totally apart from mass-market cigarettes.
As a result, many notable cigar brands, such as Davidoff and Padrón, did not introduce any new offerings this year, while some other companies have taken a gamble and brought out new cigars that may not be allowed to remain should the FDA insist on excessive new “research fees” for brands that previously didn’t exist.
In addition, this year, in an admittedly defensive move, the tobacco industry trade group, the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers (IPCPR), has changed its name to the Premium Cigar Association (PCA) to omit having the initials “CPR” as part of their abbreviation. Of course, the pipe companies are not happy about being left out, at least in name. And many retail tobacconists are upset at the renamed PCA’s proposal to institute a CigarCon event next year, where consumers would be allowed to attend the historically industry-only trade show (interestingly, at this year’s event, one cigar-friendly accredited media journalist who had been favorably covering this trade show for decades was prohibited from attending unless he paid to join the PCA).
Yet in spite of all these tribulations, this year has still given us the greatest assortment of new cigars yet—here are the best of the newest smokes and accessories to light up your holiday.