In response to the Canadian government’s passage of the anti-tobacco S-5 bill in May, the Premium Cigar Retailers of Canada has launched a new portal that allows Canadian citizens and businesses to easily contact their Member of Parliament in support of an exemption for premium cigars from the bill’s plain packaging requirement.

The site went live on Saturday morning, announced in part by an email to customers of Village Cigar Co., which is helping spearhead the effort. In it, Jerry Filice and Ryan Baker, the founding partners of Village Cigar Co., said that the plan for plain packaging which the Canadian government is going to enact “will in turn have a ripple effect that will all but wipe out the premium cigar industry across Canada.”

The website is also being supported by a social media campaign on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, which the pair told halfwheel is designed to motivate all Canadians to send letters to their Members of Parliament asking them to communicate to the Minister of Health that plain and standardized packaging on premium tobacco is a useless endeavour based on statistics so low they are deemed to be insignificant.

The campaign has already received support from some notable names in the cigar industry, including Alan Rubin of Alec Bradley, Jose Blanco of E.P. Carrillo, Rocky Patel of Rocky Patel Premium Cigars and Nicholas Melillo of Foundation Cigar Co., who have all created video messages encouraging Canadians to speak up in favor of the premium cigar exemption.

“This is survival,” Filice and Baker said, nothing that they fear that many cigar manufacturers will produce separate runs for Canada to adhere to the pending requirements. “If plain packaging passes on premium tobacco in Canada, we will be wiped off the map,” they added.

This article has been updated to add that the website is the creation of the Premium Cigar Retailers of Canada, not just the owners of Village Cigar Co.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.