bmj banner

Tobacco Rag banner

white cloud cigarettes

pattyn banner

itm banner

Archive for February, 2008

Reality check

February 20, 2008 | Comments (0)

I knew Santa Cruz had a sizable population of German heritage, but there’s something bizarre about speaking German with a tanned taxi driver while zipping past palm trees in balmy 32-degrees-Celsius (90 degrees F) weather in a very un-European landscape. Santa Cruz is said to have the world’s second-largest Octoberfest after Munich. Too bad it’s […]

Read More

Santa Cruz do Sul

February 19, 2008 | Comments (0)

While Paraguay obviously has the manufacturing capacity, it is not a major leaf-producing country. Where does it obtain its tobacco, and are leaf producers in a position to help curtail the illegal cigarette trade? To find out, we’ll travel to Santa Cruz do Sul, the largest tobacco-producing area in the region.

Read More

The fourth-largest market

February 18, 2008 | Comments (0)

If you are looking for a bargain, Rio’s Centro Uruguaiana is the place to be. Normally expensive brand-name sneakers, faux designer purses and wristwatches sell at rock-bottom prices—as do cigarettes. Telling fake from real isn’t easy, however—even for the trained eye. That afternoon we present several cigarette packs purchased at Centro Uruguaiana to Dante Letti, […]

Read More


February 17, 2008 | Comments (0)

The insignia thief must have turned himself in, because we’re allowed off the plane. But while the flight attendant has her decorations back, we’re without luggage. It’s still in Miami, where we had a tight connection. Fortunately, there are two more Miami-Rio flights that day. The airline promises to deliver that afternoon. There’s something oddly […]

Read More


February 17, 2008 | Comments (0)

We haven’t even landed in Latin America yet, and we’re already being threatened with detention—not for investigating the counterfeit cigarette trade, but for theft. As the plane descends, a terse flight attendant announces that a pin and some other American Airlines insignia have disappeared from a cabin crew member’s uniform. If the decorations aren’t returned […]

Read More

We’re idiots

February 11, 2008 | Comments (0)

“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” The leaf merchant was not impressed with our suggestion to track down a cigarette counterfeiter in Paraguay and interview him for an upcoming article in Tobacco Reporter about the illicit tobacco trade. “You’ll never find one. And even if you do, they will kill you.” Good. That confirms […]

Read More