Last week when I said Sam Leccia would not be the last one to leave a brand before the end of the year, Tim Ozgener wasn’t the one that came to mind. After the jump, the press release and statement regarding why TIm decided to leave CAO.

The other news that came with the Sam Leccia story was the launch of Studio Tobac. A few customers were able to sample the Cain F Lancero, a project that will see shelves in a few months. The other announcement was that of the Cain Daytona, a project that’s been in the works for a bit. Jose Blanco tweeted about La Aurora’s new project, the Aurora Escogido Maduro, out just in time for my birthday in March. Another day, another Gurkha. This time, the Gurkha Jade, an exclusive for Smoke Inn. It sounds like the Liga Privada T-52 Flying Pigs are hitting retailers, but that remains to be seen.

The Where’s Waldo game regarding Manuel Garcia continues… hint, no one knows. CRA launched another sampler, this one for the holidays. Los Angeles is preparing a citywide smoking ban. In other cigar legislation stupidity.. Some people are upset regarding the smoke from a cigar lounge… go figure.


Richmond, VA—General Cigar announces that CAO President Tim Ozgener has decided to pursue personal business interests in his hometown of Nashville, TN, thus moving on from his 16-year career in the premium cigar business.

Ozgener, son of company founder Cano A Ozgener, joined the original family business in 1994 and has since been instrumental in building one of the most renowned and respected brands in the premium cigar category.

Dan Carr, president of General Cigar said, “We remain committed to CAO and are grateful to Tim for his contributions, not only to the brand but also for sharing his knowledge with the people who will continue his legacy. While we will miss Tim’s insight and passion, we respect his choice and wish him well.”

Gary Hyams, chairman of CAO International commented, “It has been a privilege to work with Tim over the last three and a half years and to have had the opportunity to share in his passion for CAO. I wish him and his family all the very best for the future.”

Ozgener commented, “It is with a heavy heart that I leave CAO. I look back at my 16-year career with the company with great pride and I will miss the friendships that I have made over the years in the premium cigar industry. I am confident that the team at General Cigar will carry the CAO brand to new heights and I wish them the utmost continued success.”

Tim Ozgener was named president of CAO in 2006. He is largely credited with bringing innovative packaging, new flavor profiles and unique marketing concepts to the brand which has continued to thrive since the company’s inception during the cigar boom.

About Scandinavian Tobacco Group

ScandinavianTobacco Group which purchased CAO in 2007 has recently completed a global merger with Swedish Match AB, combining all the tobacco business of

Scandinavian Tobacco Group A/S with the cigars and pipe tobacco business of Swedish Match AB (with the exception of its US mass market cigars). This new company, which has retained the name Scandinavian Tobacco Group, is now the second largest cigar company in the world, holding more than 30% of the U.S. premium cigar market and producing more than 2.5 billion cigars and 1,650 tons of pipe tobacco annually at the Group’s factories in Europe, Asia, the Caribbean and Central America. For more information, visit

About General Cigar

General Cigar Co. Inc., a division of Scandinavian Tobacco Group, manufactures and markets handcrafted cigars for the premium market. Committed to delivering cigars of the finest quality, General Cigar’s skilled artisans produce Macanudo®, Cohiba®, La Gloria Cubana®, Punch®, CAO®, Partagas®, Hoyo de Monterrey®, Excalibur® and several other leading premium brands in the company’s Dominican, Honduran and Nicaraguan factories. In addition, the company cultivates proprietary tobacco which is used exclusively in its blends. General Cigar also operates Club Macanudo®, a cigar bar in New York City. Based in Richmond, VA, General Cigar sells through tobacconists nationwide and also exports select products to 62 countries. For more information, please visit

® Macanudo, Cohiba, La Gloria Cubana, Punch, CAO, Partagas, Hoyo de Monterrey, Excalibur and Club Macanudo are registered trademarks of General Cigar Co. Inc.

Statement form Tim via TikiBar:

Today, I find myself in need of clarifying several matters pursuant to the recent press release that was distributed regarding my departure from CAO. It is true that after 16 years I am stepping down from my position at CAO and will no longer be involved with the company effective immediately. The reasons that lead me to this most difficult decision, however, may not be as transparent.

The reality of the matter is that due to the recent merger between Scandinavian Tobacco Group (ST) and Swedish Match, a decision was made to fold CAO into General Cigar Co. (GCC), resulting in a physical relocation of CAO headquarters to Richmond, VA, from its current location of Nashville, TN. After conferring with my family, my decision was made to remain in Nashville.

Furthermore, while I have stepped down from my role as CAO President, it is a misnomer to say that I have completely abandoned the premium Cigar industry. While I am leaving the manufacturer side of this great business, I will continue my efforts on the political and social fronts in aiding to lobby against egregious anti-smoking legislation and taxation wherever and whenever I am able, as I have done during the past several years. In addition, I will continue to serve on the board of several trade organizations.

In closing, my wish is that the CAO brand will continue to prosper and grow under the watch of General Cigar Co., and that CAO loyalists will continue to enjoy their brand of choice for years to come. As I stand upon the closing page of this chapter, however, I do so with a desire in my heart to make certain that the epilogue is written with accuracy and goodwill.

Sincerely yours,

Tim Ozgener

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Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I have written about the cigar industry for more than a decade, covering everything from product launches to regulation to M&A. In addition, I handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff here at halfwheel. I enjoy playing tennis, watching boxing, falling asleep to the Le Mans 24, wearing sweatshirts year-round and eating gyros. echte liebe.