France is expected to ban the use of the Café Crème name, arguing that it violates French Public Health Code.
Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG) issued a statement following reports in the French media. The company said it does not believe any final decision has been made, but is aware the French government reviewed all tobacco names following France’s implantation of TPD2, the new European tobacco directive.
While not widely-known in the U.S., Café Crème is distributed in over 100 markets. The name is used for small cigars and cigarillos, which are produced in Holland. It was introduced by Henri Wintermans in 1883.
According to STG, French law prohibits tobacco products from referencing the taste, smell, aroma or suggesting lifestyle benefit. There is concern the government will argue the Café Crème name refers to the taste, smell or aroma.
“A ban would be unjustified. The Café Crème brand name is not a reference to the taste or smell of the cigars which don’t taste or smell of coffee,” said Niels Frederiksen, ceo of STG, in a statement. “French cigar smokers won’t quit smoking because we change the brand name Café Crème. If the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Budget issue a ban, they would deprive us of our trademark rights in a global cigar brand for no legitimate reason. Such a ban would go far beyond what is required to protect the public against the risks associated with smoking.”
STG said it has contingency plans in place, though it will fight any ban on the name. If enacted, STG would have one year before it would be forced to change the name.
France and Britain are the largest of the 100 or so markets where Café Crème is sold. French sales of Café Crème account for 4 percent of STG’s worldwide sales. Four percent of the company’s 2015 sales number would be around $21.5 million.
For context, the total cigar of STG—which includes General Cigar Co. and Cigars International—is 28.75 percent of the company’s sales.