El Gusto forced to quit. The Belgian magazine has been forced out of magazine stands by the government. The 25th issue won’t appear in the Belgian newsstands or tobacconist shops. After 12 years, this is the bitter end for the magazine. El Gusto was distributed in Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg. It was published in both the French language and in Dutch.
Publisher, editor, and owner of the magazine, Ben Vinken received a letter from the Belgian Food & Drug Authority. They feel that the detailed reviews in the magazine and articles about cigars are in violation of the law. They also added that brand names are seen on cigar pictures in the magazine. And that’s, according to the government, a violation of legislation from 1977. The anti-tobacco advertising law says that ‘advertising and sponsoring is any publication with the meaning to enhance sales’. Business to business, that’s still allowed but because the El Gusto magazine is for sale on newsstands, it’s not a b2b magazine.
Ben Vinken replied in a press release that he has no other option to comply. Potential jail time, starting at a month up to a year, and a hefty fine between 80.000 and 800.000 euro are too serious to ignore. But he says it’s unfair. In the 12 years that the magazine was allowed, it did not lead to an increase in premium cigar sales. And he feels that El Gusto is the victim of strict legislation. “The legislation is written to stop the unhealthy cigarette industry, without any consideration for the niche markets or premium cigars. Cigar aficionados are educated tobacco smokers. Let’s start by improving the law, by differentiating types of tobacco and tobacco users.
This looks like the end of El Gusto. There are two more cigar magazines from Belgium. Those are Aroma G and Robusto Magazine. The last one is a free internet publication in pdf. Both magazines are published twice a year. Aroma G will not be sold on the Belgian market but will remain available in The Netherlands, Luxembourg, and France. Robusto Magazine is contemplating on the next move.