Cuban cigars get shorter to counter anti-smoking laws

Written by AFP | Havana | Updated: Feb 26 2014, 18:10pm hrs
Shorter cigars that can be savored 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 flavor 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 9 centimeters (3.5 inches) 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 flavors.

"There are other brands, like Hoyo de Monterrey, that allow for the introduction of more delicate flavors, 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.