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INTERVIEWS & ARTICLES

Cigar Dave Discusses Government Regulations and Enjoying Cigars -- on Lubbock’s First News KFYO


By: Cole Shooter

On Monday’s edition of Lubbock’s First News, guest host Cole Shooter and Rex Andrew discussed cigars, government regulations on tobacco, and the “pleasure police” with Cigar Dave, host of the Cigar Dave Show.

“The General” Cigar Dave likened the regulations and higher taxes on cigars to higher taxes and outright bans on other areas such as fatty foods and sugar, and raising taxes on these products can work as a de facto ban on the items.

“When you talk to one of these food police, pleasure police, or these climate change people and try to say ‘well let’s look at the facts; let’s talk science’, they don’t want to hear it,” said Cigar Dave. “

“They really believe that we’re dumb; that we are like a bunch of three or four year olds that can’t make up our own minds…they wag their finger at all of us saying ‘we’re much more educated and smarter than you are, therefore we have to tell you how you should live and what you should eat.”

Cigar Dave also discussed the basics of getting into the hobby of smoking cigars and the major differences between smoking cigars rather than cigarettes.

You can hear the Cigar Dave Show from 9 to 11 p.m. on Saturdays on KFYO, and live from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Sportsradio 1340 The Fan.


Corey Deitz

Corey's Radio Blog

By Corey Deitz, About.com Guide since 2002


    'The Cigar Dave Show' a Refreshing Breath of Fresh Air

    Monday December 6, 2010
    In a world where it seems we are pummeled daily with news stories about what's bad for us, statements from organizations on what we shouldn't eat, and even word that the government may soon be able to ban bake sales in schools - Cigar Dave is a breath of fresh air, so to speak. (Screenshot: cigardave.com)

    I've listened to The Cigar Dave Show several times now out of curiosity and I enjoy the freewheeling spirit of the program so much, I wish I did smoke cigars! What's evident to me is a lot of people - Cigar Dave's listeners - are enjoying the pleasures of life and are quite comfortable in discussing subjects which might not be politically correct in some circles: smoking and other indulgences that are labeled 'bad for you' by some and certainly 'not good for you' by others.

    It seems Cigar Dave could care less as he talks about "Cigars, Spirits, Diversions, Dice, Games, the Good Life."




    Cigar Industry Heating Up Again

    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

    TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- For about five years in the 1990s, the cigar industry luxuriated in a wild sales boom when celebrities and trendy 20-somethings decided that puffing imported, hand-rolled stogies was The Next Big Thing.

    The bubble burst when the supply of quality tobacco couldn't keep up with demand. The market became flooded with inferior but pricey cigars hastily rolled with lower grade tobacco, as many of the poseurs and neophytes moved on to something else.

    In the years since, the industry has enjoyed a quiet, steady climb. The bad product is mostly gone, the market settled and refined tobacco growing methods make ''sticks'' from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Honduras every bit as good as those storied but forbidden Cuban stogies.

    Cigars aren't selling like it's 1997, but nobody is complaining. Last year's sales were still more than triple the early 1990s pre-boom numbers, even though new laws keep adding places where smokers can't light up.

    ''There's never been a better time to be a cigar connoisseur,'' said David ''Cigar Dave'' Zeplowitz, whose Tampa-based radio show celebrating good smokes is heard in more than 100 markets and on satellite stations. ''The cigar industry is vibrant, it's healthy, even though there are more restrictions on peoples' right to enjoy a cigar than ever before.''

    Norman Sharp, president of the Washington-based Cigar Association of America, said it's hard to tell how many people smoke cigars because for many it's just an occasional hobby. The industry tracks trends by looking at how many cigars are imported into the United States each year.

    At the height of the boom in 1997, imports peaked at 417.8 million cigars, nearly five times more than in 1993, according to the cigar association.

    After dropping to 248 million in 1999, the numbers started another upward turn. In 2005, imports had climbed to 319.4 million cigars, with another slight bump expected this year.

    ''The increases are much more manageable than in the days of the boom when there was almost a craze aspect to it,'' Sharp said. ''What we're seeing is much more manageable growth.''

    Cooper Gardiner, vice president of marketing for the General Cigar Co., the largest manufacturer of imported, handmade cigars in the United States, said there aren't huge numbers of new smokers like during the '90s, but he expects the industry to keep growing by a few percentage points a year if the tobacco supply can keep up.

    ''I think most people are happy,'' said Gardiner, whose company produces such popular brands as Cohiba, Macanudo, Punch and Hoyo de Monterrey. Another leader in the handmade cigar market, Fort Lauderdale-based Altadis USA, manufactures Don Diego, H. Upmann, Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta and other brands.

    Zeplowitz said the cigar boom -- he prefers to call it a ''renaissance'' -- was so good for business because it introduced a lot of people to cigars who continued to smoke after others moved on.

    Sharp said the boom also ''spruced up'' the cigar industry. Younger people were smoking, new makers entered the fray, a greater selection of sizes and shapes was introduced and packaging got more provocative, updating a fuddy-duddy image.

    Profits generated during the boom allowed manufacturers to pay for new farming technology and other advances, resulting in superior cigars on the shelves today, said Gary Bahrenfus, manager of the landmark Edwards Pipe & Tobacco shop in Tampa.

    ''The product that we're smoking today is second to none,'' Bahrenfus said. ''It's the very best tobacco that's ever been grown. It's got the most flavor, it's got the right texture. When you pick up a cigar, there's not a bad cigar.''

    Fine, hand-rolled cigars are readily available in the $3-to-$7 range, and ''super premiums'' and limited edition sticks can run $15 and up. Retailers say the average smoker of premium cigars lights up one to three a week.

    The renewed interest in good smokes resonates in Tampa, whose early growth was spurred by the cigar industry when Cuban manufacturers began relocating here in the 1880s to escape political and labor unrest in their native land.

    The east Tampa community -- dubbed Ybor City after cigar magnate Vincent Martinez-Ybor -- grew to more than 250 cigar factories with 30,000 employees. For 50 years the city was the cigar capital of the world.

    Several notable cigar concerns still call Tampa home, including the Oliva Tobacco Co. -- supplier of a good chunk of tobacco used in premium cigars sold around the world -- and mail-order company Thompson Cigar, one of the largest cigar retailers in the United States. Ybor City, now revitalized as an entertainment and tourist district, features specialty shops luring would-be smokers with artisans rolling cigars on the premises.

    More cigars are being smoked these days, even as health officials warn against it. Cigar smokers who don't inhale are at a lower risk for lung cancer or heart disease but are still susceptible to cancers of the mouth, tongue and throat.

    Zeplowitz, whose radio show also celebrates ''cigar lifestyle'' accouterments like good steaks, martinis and fine wines, doesn't want to hear it. He rails against the ''pleasure police'' and others who try to restrict his right to enjoy a good smoke.

    ''It's just like every other luxury product,'' he said. ''People are enjoying them more than ever, but they are enjoying them in moderation.''

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    Cigar Dave radio show celebrates stogies, the good life

    By MITCH STACY, Associated Press

    TAMPA, Fla. - David Zeplowitz hates the "pleasure police."

    That's what he calls those who would impugn his right to enjoy such pursuits as sipping a cocktail, digging into a thick steak and - especially - stoking up a fine, hand-rolled cigar.

    "Cigar Dave," as he is known to devotees of his weekly radio program, stands ready to defend the good life while extolling the virtues of a good smoke for two hours every Saturday afternoon.

    "I look at myself as a spokesperson for people that say we enjoy doing these things, we're adults, we can make our own decisions and we're going to fight," he said.

    Zeplowitz's celebration of the finer things, his vast knowledge of cigars and conservative political rants have earned the 39-year-old veteran broadcaster a following in close to 90 U.S. cities since his show debuted in Tampa eight years ago.

    Between the "long ashes" greeting to listeners and the ceremonial "lightation" of the week's featured stogie, Zeplowitz - respectfully called "the General" by his Cigar Army legions - fields questions, advises, introduces new products and chats up cigar-smoking celebs. Beer, cocktails, fine food and other accouterments of the "cigar lifestyle" also are popular topics.

    New to cigar smoking? Zeplowitz will recommend a good beginner's "stick" and send a few out to you. Wondering about the proper way to cut and light it? He's got the paraphernalia and the answers.

    Are those illegal Cuban cigars really superior? That's a myth, he says. State-of-the-art farming and quality control make cigars from Honduras, Dominican Republic and Nicaragua even better than the forbidden Cuban product now.

    Cigar makers who buy up the commercial spots on Zeplowitz's show also fill his office with boxes and boxes of top-shelf smokes for him to sample and give away to listeners.

    It's good to be the General.

    "I think people want to go back to the Rat Pack days," the Buffalo, N.Y., native said. "When you went to Vegas you could have a good time, you could smoke a cigar, you could have your beverage, you could tell dirty jokes and nobody cared. It was fun. And that's really what we do on the show. We're politically incorrect and damn proud of that."

    Politics has crept onto his agenda more lately, especially as the war with Iraq was unfolding. Cigar Dave and his listeners hashed over the conflict and kept up the attaboys for President Bush and the troops. For weeks, he harped on France for refusing to support the U.S. war effort, calling for a boycott of French wine.

    "To not discuss the war and what was going on and not be patriotic would have been a tremendous insult to the troops over there," he said.

    Zeplowitz's formidable following has made him a central figure in the cigar universe. Manufacturers see his fans packing remote broadcasts and asking their dealers for the smokes he talks about on the show.

    "He's a pretty bright man, and he got himself educated on the product and found a niche," said Jim Colucci, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Altadis U.S.A. Inc., makers of Montecristo, H. Upmann, Romeo y Julieta and other popular brands.

    Gary Bahrenfus, who manages the landmark Edward's Pipe and Tobacco shop in Tampa, is an occasional guest on the show and sat alongside Zeplowitz recently for the annual "Cigar Draft," in which callers chose and analyzed favorite cigars in an NFL Draft format.

    "There will come a time when he will be lauded by the industry," Bahrenfus predicts. "He has a been an asset to our industry, more than any other one person I can think of."

    A Syracuse University graduate, Zeplowitz moved to Florida in 1989 after buying a small AM station in Zephyrhills, north of Tampa. Tracing his love of cigars back to his grandfather, he found Tampa - arguably the epicenter of the nation's cigar culture - an ideal locale to immerse himself in the hobby.

    Tampa's early growth was spurred by the cigar industry, when Cuban manufacturers began relocating here in the 1880s to escape political and labor unrest in their native land. The east Tampa community - dubbed Ybor City after cigar magnate Vincent Martinez-Ybor - grew to more than 250 cigar factories with 30,000 employees. For 50 years the city was the cigar capital of the world.

    The Depression took its toll, cigarettes eclipsed cigars as the smoke of choice and the area declined. But the cigar heritage is still celebrated as a theme of Ybor City's revitalization as a busy entertainment district.

    Zeplowitz started the show on a now-defunct AM station in July 1995 in the midst of a boom in the popularity of imported cigars and moved two years later to his current flagship, WFLA-AM. A few other radio shows around the country are devoted to the subject, but none boast his reach and popularity.

    Besides the featured cigar he lights on the air, Zeplowitz says he smokes only one or two more during the week. When he's tasting product, he'll only burn an inch or so of each cigar. Moderation is a Cigar Dave mantra.

    A bachelor, Zeplowitz owns a boat, loves to fish and play golf, pastimes that are, of course, enhanced with a good smoke.

    His favorite brand of cigar?

    "Whatever I'm smoking at the time," he said.

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    Welcome to the All Access Music Group News/Talk/Sports Section.
    10 Questions With...

    Cigar DaveNAME: Cigar Dave
    TITLE: "The General"
    COMPANY: "Smoke This!"/Cigar Connoisseur Radio Network
    BORN: 1964 in Buffalo, NY
    RAISED: Buffalo, NY
    BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS: Began broadcasting career as a news intern while a high-school sophomore at WKBW-TV in Buffalo, NY at age 15; Graduated in 1986 from Syracuse University Newhouse School of Public Communications and the School of Management. Degree in Broadcast Management and Finance; 1989 to 1995: Owned and operated WPAS-AM in Zephyrhills, FL; 1992-1995: Awarded CP, built, owned and operated WBSB-FM in Dade City, FL (both suburban Tampa, FL markets); July 1995: Created and began hosting the cigar lifestyle show "Smoke This!" on WSUN, Tampa, FL. Currently airs on over 90 stations Saturdays 12Noon-2PM Eastern Time, originating from WFLA, Tampa, FL.


    2. Is America getting more or less permissive as far as cigars and wine and other of the "finer things" are concerned? Which way is the pendulum swinging right now?

    Certainly more Americans are taking the time from stressful lifestyles to kick back a bit and smoke a good cigar, drink a glass of fine wine, and enjoy a good meal. But not without grief---from the self-anointed pleasure police--- who capitalize on America's Puritinistic guilt-complex which causes us to be in a constant state of guilt for enjoying anything even remotely pleasurable.

    Cigars, wine, steaks, caffeineated coffee, dirty jokes, fornication---the pleasure police hate it all. Their goal is to protect us from ourselves, and make our lives miserably boring. Thankfully there are a large number of hard-working, successful, intelligent, vociferous Americans ---including me--- who take on the pleasure police and enjoy every moment of pleasure derived from a fine cigar.

    3. Here's an obvious and probably often-asked question- for someone who's never smoked cigars, what would be a good starter cigar? What should a novice be looking for? What was YOUR first cigar?

    I always recommend that "Cigar Virgins" begin with mild cigars that have a Connecticut Shade wrapper. You can't go wrong with a Macanudo as a starter cigar. It's smooth, flavorful, and mild.
    In any premium, long filler, hand-rolled cigar, you look for a nice silky wrapper, seamless construction, a cigar that feels nice to the touch, and that's properly stored in a humidified environment.
    I began enjoying cigars while in college. I began with Antonio y Cleopatra's and Swisher Sweets. Certainly, my cigar selection is far better today than in those "lean" college years.

    4. What's the holy grail of cigar connoisseurs- is there one cigar you haven't yet experienced that you want to try? If not, what's the very best cigar smoking experience you've ever had?

    The best cigar is whatever I'm smoking at the time.

    5. Who are your influences?

    My mother and father, and both sets of grandparents---whose example, wisdom and guidance have been priceless.
    Other people I admire include former President Harry S. Truman and General George S. Patton. Men who always led with integrity, conviction, strength, and guts. My kind of guys!

    6. From what markets do you get the best response?

    We get great response from markets large and small including LA, Detroit, Tampa, Miami, Atlanta, and Charlotte.

    7. What's the best advice you ever received? The worst?

    "Take all the experience you can get, and the cash will come later" ---given to me by my father when I began my broadcasting career as an unpaid intern.
    Since I'm an optimist and try to focus on all things positive, I really can't recall ever getting bad advice, especially from my parents. I can pretty much take their advice to the bank---every time!

    9. Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without _____________.

    ...laughter (and a morning cup of caffeineated coffee)

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