Larry Sharpe

0040 - Rick Rodriguez of CAO Cigars on blending, talking tobacco, and learning from Benji Menéndez

Rick Rodriguez dropped by Cigar Snob HQ for an interview. Rick is the blender and ambassador at CAO Cigars, the General Cigar brand known for products like Flathead and Pilón, among others. Unlike so many other blenders, Rick came into his role from the sales side of the business. We talked about how he got his start, what it was like learning to blend with a cigar legend, and what’s on the horizon for the CAO brand.

Rick Rodriguez is the blender and ambassador for CAO Cigars.

Rick Rodriguez is the blender and ambassador for CAO Cigars.

0038 - Larry Sharpe, Libertarian candidate for governor of New York, on cigars, vape products, and government intervention

Larry Sharpe is running for New York governor as a Libertarian.

Larry Sharpe is running for New York governor as a Libertarian.

These days, it seems like there’s no aspect of our lives that is outside the reach of divisive politics. Cigars are no exception, with government seemingly on a perpetual assault of the rights of cigar smokers, tobacconists and manufacturers at the federal, state and municipal levels.

Few states are more notorious for their restrictive anti-tobacco policies than New York. With a gubernatorial election coming later this year, incumbent Andrew Cuomo (who is a safe bet in the Democrat primary) faces not only a Republican challenger, but also an unusually competent third-party challenge from Libertarian Larry Sharpe.

Cigar Snob senior editor Nicolás A. Jiménez had a chance to speak with Larry about FDA regulation, state and local prohibitions, and what his own libertarian approach to these issues might be if he ended up taking the helm in Albany.