CStore Cigars: Expectations and the Reality

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On any given day, Google  “c store cigars” or “gas station cigars” and you’ll find there’s a general consensus about the genre by cigar aficionados everywhere. Here’s one comment found on a Reddit forum for gas station cigars vs. premium cigars recently - 


“Eat a bowl of poo with condensed milk.

Then eat a bowl of delicious Cinnamon Toast Crunch with unsweetened vanilla almond milk.

Tell me which one you like best.”

And there are a million more on the web just like it. 

C-Store Cigars vs. Premium's - There Is A Difference

Listen, folks, this prejudiced opinion of cigars is a bit ridiculous if you ask me. Critics who think that a fine Cohiba or Romeo should be compared to a Dutch or a Swisher really should find another hobby. I mean - even if you’re not a cigar smoker - there is a distinct difference. I’ve tried a couple of  premiums in my life and can’t say I was a fan. Could have been the best cigar in the world for all I knew - but I couldn’t appreciate then what a fine cigar is supposed to taste like. 

In all honesty - gas station cigars weren’t my thing initially, either. I figured - if premiums weren’t my thing - why would I smoke one from a gas station? All I’d ever heard was that they were gross and cheap. 

And then I smoked one.

Now - I’ll start by saying it wasn’t  like sitting in that cigar lounge puffing that Rocky Patel and sipping on a cognac. But then again - that’s not what I was expecting. I expected a flavored cigar that burned horribly and would smell like a burning shoe. But I found that it was quite different.

The first puff gave the aroma of Kahlua and a hint of chocolate - the wrapper was a bit frayed but that’s what Backwoods’ are known for. The draw was consistent and the smoke that filled the air smelled like a cigar with a hint of Kahlua and cream. It wasn’t entirely harsh on the throat, either. (You might get a decent buzz from a cigarillo, too - so you might want to take it easy if it’s your first time.) 

The point to all this is that - I’m not entirely sure why there isn’t a classification of these cigars already - it’s evident that some cigars are “mass-market” and cost $.99 for three pack pouch of them - and you have premiums that can run you tens - if not hundreds - of dollars for a single cigar. Not really sure - but, I don’t think anyone has stopped by their local cigar lounge looking for a couple of Swisher’s lately. 

However - let’s look at some numbers.

The Cigar Industry - By the Numbers

The cigar industry as a whole sold $9.4 billion in sales this year just in the US market alone and it’s expected to continue to grow by roughly 3.1% per year through 2025. Now - add the fact that the mass-market, “c-store cigar” category makes up a whopping 87.2 percent of that figure. 

In short- that Swisher you won’t find in a fancy cigar lounge outsells the entire premium industry itself.

There is much discussion and proposed legislation regarding flavors in tobacco and vaping, proposing that the flavored tobacco products entices our youth to smoke. A “gateway” , so-to-speak, for those who were supposedly “on the fence” on whether to smoke or not.  The belief is that there are some people out there who wouldn’t try a regular cigar if you paid them - but put some French Vanilla in there - and it’s suddenly irresistible. 

I truly hope there will eventually be some “standard” of what flavored tobacco products will be in the future and how they will be handled being sold to consumers. A ban on all flavored tobacco products would crush tax revenue drastically - and as long as the market growth is on an upward trend - I hope such drastic measures won’t happen for quite some time - if ever, at all. The middle ground will likely result in additional taxes on those flavors. So,  if Uncle Sam needs another five or ten cents so my cigarillo can taste like Russian Cream, I’m probably not going to complain.

Until our politicians can find some compromise, current manufacturers can do best to continue testing their products to ensure they are as safe as possible for their consumers health - and to create new products that carry the same regard. 


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