this issue's Injector Section we took a look at ZEN tubes from HBI ( www.hbiinternational.com ).
While this should be of little surprise as we have covered just about all of their other
products in this issue, (no, they did not pay us to do this, it just so happened that they
sent us such a huge variety of new products that we felt it interesting to share the
wealth with our readers). The
ZEN tube comes in Light and Full Flavor
as shown at left. They (like many private label tubes) are manufactured by CTC (The
Clinton Tube Company of Canada) and while they are unremarkable as to the character, that
is actually a good thing in that that designation simply means the taste is neutral and
does not interfere with the tobacco taste. They look pretty much like all of the other
tubes in this category and the light uses a slightly longer filter element in combination
with a more porous paper. The price is not as low as the ZEN line of tobacco products,
costing about the same as the Escort and Premier at best and a little higher at the
extreme. Again however, the key to this whole line of products as mentioned before is the
"name" ZEN which is catchy and even more eye catching is the box design (see
page top). Most tubes are packed in pretty mundane boxes and these certainly have an
improved packaging panache. Rumor has it that HBI is exploring the
possibilities of colored tubes and we feel that the market is ready for such cosmetic
upgrades as long as the dye used in coloration does not add unwanted flavor to the smoke.
Perhaps even a flavored tube with say a light vanilla seasoning might be appropriate for
their ultimate designer tube.
Judging from the innovative spirit coming out of Phoenix, Arizona and Vancouver, B.C. we expect to see even more design upgrades from HBI in the near future.
An important part of the MYO experience is the participant's ability to control factors such as style, flavor, cut , and strength of what they may choose at any given time to enjoy. Most Light Filter tubes seem harsh to me except for the CTC Escort and the new Zig-Zag 100 mm Light. These are found to be less harsh mostly because of the way they lighten the smoke. Specifically they use a more porous paper in the tube part itself and resist the more common practice of using ventilation holes in the sides of the filters. You can really cut the power of what you are smoking without losing too much of the flavor by using Gizeh's Charbon filter Tubes (charcoal filtered) which we reviewed in our October/December 2000 issue. (See the Archives section in the Filtered Tubes category of October/December 2000 to read the review). These are excellent tubes, but are more expensive than most other tubes as they come in only boxes of 100 and these smaller boxes are more than half the price of other, larger boxes of tubes. Plus they REALLY filter the smoke a great deal.
There is, however, a more economical way, and one that works as well as the Gizeh charcoal tube but filters a bit less. The David Ross filter, which is a plastic filter tip that attaches like any cigarette holder does an incredible job of filtering the smoke without losing the flavor. It uses an interesting mechanism which, while it involves small holes in the red insert as filtering agents, does not bring in outside and thus drier air. The four holes in the red insert that separates the tube from the lips "squeeze" the smoke and thus cause excess tar to be accumulated in the filter tip. The tip provides a very nice feel in the mouth or teeth as well as reducing the power of whatever tobacco you are using, all without increasing harshness. They are relatively cheap, they can be disassembled and cleaned, (simply use a small Q-Tip or pipe cleaner to push out the red insert from the end you put in your mouth - then clean) and each one will filter at least 6 cigarettes before cleaning is necessary. All parts are plastic so their is nothing to over-saturate or wear out. They come 10 filters to a box and should retail around $2-$3 per box and again they are nearly infinitely re-usable.
Those that have tried them at our store and those readers who have come upon them in other retail tobacco shops rave about them. So if you are looking to lighten the "load" we recommend them highly. Made in Italy, they are distributed by CTC (the Supermatic people) and are available at many online and local retail outlets. We particularly like them when smoking strong halfzware blends in injected tubes but even when smoking lighter, more elegant, distinctive tasting blends like Ramback Turkish, Lane Oriental Turkish, or McClintock Gold, little flavor is lost. They FIT MYO tubes, which is important to note as many filtered cigarette holders were and still are designed to hold the smaller (in diameter) manufactured cigarette. They reduce, by at least one half, the tar of whatever you are used to smoking with very little flavor loss. We like them a lot and would like to know what more of you think of them as they become more widely available.
The Vera Cruz line of designer, upscale quality tubes is just about ready for manufacture. We are hoping to have sufficient information to help present this product with complete info at the upcoming RTDA (Retail Tobacco Dealers Association) Convention this July in Las Vegas. We have had a tremendous response from our coverage of this ground breaking product and while the cat is not quite out of the bag, its claws are certainly beginning to emerge.
There can now be no
doubt whatsoever that the market is ripe for these kinds of upscale amenities. We would
like to assure our readers that this tube is a reality and is coming. A possible new
design (made necessary by limitations in the tube printing process) has emerged and is
shown at right. The Full Flavored Maduro is identified with an "M" and The
lighter Elegante with an "E", each on the band. We think they are breathtakingly
beautiful and await anxiously along with you for
the final Vera Cruz debut. It is time for the MYO industry to take this next step
towards maturity in order to compete with the much larger packaged cigarette market as
well as the designer cigarette market ruled by Nat Sherman, Dunhill, and Sobranie. Let us
know what you think about this new design as your feedback is the ultimate test for any
new product. - RYO
By the way, one of our readers, Michael Byrd, sent us the Ramses II Egyptian Cigarettes at right. These are no longer available but do remind us of an era when smoking was far more festive. The embossed box alone is a masterpiece of artistic expression and the smokes inside though pretty old were still great Turkish offerings. Mark Ryan of D&R Tobacco (www.cigarettetobacco.com ) sent us the Sobranies at right. They had gold foil tipped filters and various colored papers much like the Sherman Fantasia. The smoke was not a complete Turkish offering like the tinned Balkan Sobranies of old but was, none the less, really delicious.
|EDITOR'S NOTE: These reviews are solely for the convenience of people of legal age who already smoke, are trying to cut down on smoking, wish to spend less money on their smoking, want to roll their own cigarettes from high quality tobacco, and, in general, wish to have a far more satisfying, and economical smoking experience when compared with smoking pre-manufactured cigarettes. We, in no way, encourage people to smoke. Further, we prescribe to a sane, more logical approach to smoking that involves common sense as to quantity coupled with a strong desire to manage the habit until it becomes an occasional, freely chosen, diversion, that can be fully enjoyed with minimal health risks. Finally, we strongly encourage those who do smoke to take it outdoors, or to appropriate environments where tobacco can be enjoyed away from those who do not smoke, most especially children. We do not sell tobacco or related products from this site; We distribute information about our perceptions of the quality of what is available and where it can be obtained. If you are under 18, it is illegal to buy tobacco and you should immediately exit this site. If you do not smoke, it would seem illogical to start.|
© 1999 RYO Magazine
A Publication of
The Andromedan Design Company
is a trademark of The Andromedan Design Company,
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