Tobacconist University has announced the launch of its fifth certification program, the Certified Cigar Sommelier Tobacconist (CCST).

The new program is geared at individuals working in the hospitality industry, which can include fine dining establishments, golf and country clubs, casino lounges, and wine or cocktail bars and stores.

“There are so many secondary points of distribution for cigars outside of dedicated retail tobacconists,” Jorge Armenteros, president and founder of Tobacconist University told halfwheel, though he noted that the employees working in those locations rarely have any substantive or helpful knowledge. He hopes this new certification will change that.

The CCST program will be similar to Tobacconist University’s existing Certified Retail Tobacconist (CRT) training, though with modifications to suit these particular retailers. The coursework begins with each CCST apprentice agreeing to accept the program’s code of ethics and standards.

The coursework focuses on three main areas: retail school, cigar fundamentals, and pairing school. The program is designed to instruct employees on retail best practices and customer service without overburdening them with unnecessary information.

“Good educational fundamentals are one of the most important factors to enjoying premium cigars and we want to make sure all consumers have that opportunity,” Armenteros said. “Our goal is to enhance consumer appreciation for luxury tobacco products by empowering those who sell them, and ultimately reinforcing a consumer culture that appreciate the products and the tobacconists who sell them.”

Tobacconist University offers three additional programs: Certified Consumer Tobacconist (CCT), Certified Salesforce Tobacconist (CST) and Certified Master Tobacconist (CMT).

The CCST program is currently available via Tobacconist University’s website.

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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.