The tax-free travel guide to smoking accessories
Smoking accessories were once a small, but firmly established part of the typical duty-free shop’s product assortment. Times have changed somewhat, however. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the wave of airport security restrictions which followed, plus the growing muscle of the anti-smoking lobby, have all conspired to make fancy lighters, cigar cutters and other smoking accessories far less widely available than they once were.Part of the problem are the tangle of rules about what you can and can’t take onboard an aircraft these days, which can vary considerably from country to country, and from airline to airline. First, the good news: in theory it should be okay to bring cigar cutters of any type onboard most airlines even if you pack them in your hand luggage. The US Transport Security Administration (TSA), one of the world’s strictest airport security authorities, allows them, for instance, (as long as the blades aren’t longer than four inches).
The bad news is that stories abound of US airport passengers, who have had their cigar cutters confiscated by grumpy TSA staff, who clearly didn’t know the rules they were supposed to be enforcing. You could try arguing the point if you are unlucky enough for this to happen to you, but in our experience it rarely gets results and could end in tears if tempers begin to fray!
The TSA’s rules relating to lighters have changed considerably in the years since 9/11. The most recent regulations introduced in 2007 saw a partial lifting of the TSA’s blanket ban on lighters in carry-on luggage (officers were confiscating some 22,000 lighters per day!). Everyday lighters can now be brought onboard, but torch lighters, which are often used to light pipes and cigars, cannot. All lighters remain banned from checked luggage.
Is that clear? We thought not. Well, for more information on the TSA’s latest regulations on hand luggage restrictions, see http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm.Other countries have more relaxed rules regarding the carriage of lighters in hand luggage, but remember that as lighters contain liquid fuel, they generally have to be packaged in a plastic bag along with any other items containing liquids, aerosols and gels before they can be taken through airport security. If you are buying a lighter in duty-free, it is also likely to be placed in a sealed tamper evident bag.
On the question of where to find a decent range of smoking accessories, our advice is to head for one of the growing number of specialist cigar shops found at larger international airports around the world. In Europe, for instance, Zürich airport’s excellent selection of stores includes a recently opened World of Pleasure cigar shop, which in addition to a range of Cohiba, Davidoff and Avo cigars, features a decent range of smoking accessories, including lighters from Colibri and Zippo.
Similarly, World Duty Free’s Cigar House shop-in-shops at all three of London Heathrow’s terminals also stock a good range of lighters, cutters, cigar cases and humidors, as well as a selection of cigar-related books and magazines. Elsewhere, Madrid Barajas, Barcelona El Prat and Amsterdam Schiphol all boast a decent selection of cigar accessories.
In the Middle East two airports stand out for their excellence in all things cigar related�?” Dubai and Beirut international airports. Beirut Duty Free’s La Casa del Habano is particularly impressive, boasting an entire gondola dedicated to lighters, for instance, as well as a wide selection of cigar and pipe smoking accessories. While you are there, check out the VIP lounge with its leather seating and bar, plus the two beautiful walk-in humidors, which stock some 35 different Cuban cigar brands in many different styles and shapes.
The international Casa Del Habano chain also operates a shop at Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur International airport’s Satellite Terminal, where travellers will find a great range of accessories such as lighters, pipes, leather cigar cases from stylish brands such as Porsche Design, Siglo and ST Dupont. As for other recommended places to find smoking accessories, check out our airport pages for the destination you are travelling to see if it boasts a decent duty-free cigar shops.Cigar and cigarette smokers tend to be very brand loyal and that loyalty can easily spill over into the type of lighter, cigar cutter or even the type of match they use. That makes it hard for us to make recommendations about specific accessories, but there are some brands out there, which tend to be very well thought of such as Palio and Xicar cigar cutters, while lighters such as Dunhill, Colibri, Vector and Corona have also stood the test of time.
As we have seen smoking accessories are not such a highly visible or widely available product sector in duty-free as other categories, but if you are lucky enough to be travelling from or to an airport with a specialist cigar store or shop-in-shop, it should carry a reasonable selection. Happy hunting!