Pure tobacco cigarettes, made in Cayman

| 17/06/2016 | 25 Comments
Cayman News Service

Cordell Gutierrez in his cigarette factory on Shamrock Road.

(CNS Business): A young Caymanian entrepreneur has begun manufacturing and selling cigarettes locally using pure tobacco imported from Kentucky with no additives. Cordell Gutierrez (23), who grew up on Cayman Brac, began selling his cigarette packages in December last year under the brand name Blacktip. The cigarettes are produced in a small factory in Prospect, next to the Cayman Islands Brewery, and distributed to a number of retail outlets across Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac.

Although producing and selling cigarettes is a controversial choice of business in an age where smokers are being strongly encouraged to give them up, Gutierrez, a non-smoker himself, told CNS Business that he is not trying to get people to pick up the habit, but for people who are already smokers, his cigarettes are less harmful because they don’t have all the additives that the large tobacco brands add to their product.

Cayman News Service“Regular cigarettes have 600 to 900 chemicals and preservatives added to the tobacco, which are addictive themselves,” he said. Just some of the chemicals found in tobacco smoke include acetone, ammonia, arsenic, butane and formaldehyde, he noted. “People have told me that after smoking pure tobacco cigarettes for a while, they found it much easier to give up cigarettes altogether.”

Asked why he chose this particular business, he said, “I just thought it was a good idea. I looked into it, why this would be better than regular cigarettes, and saw a market for it. Cayman has its own beers and now has its own cigarettes. It just gives smokers an option to smoke less harmful cigarettes.”

The 1,200sqft Blacktip factory contains five machines to process the cigarettes plus room to package and wrap them, and is currently producing around 200 cartons a month, which Gutierrez hopes to increase as sales pick up.

Gutierrez himself works full time at CUC as an engineering technician, having gained an associate’s degree in Science and Electrical Technology with Renewable Energy from the New England Institute of Technology on Rhode Island.

Cayman News Service

Cordell Gutierrez in the Blacktip cigarette factory

He has one employee at the factory, Kyle Bang, who has worked as a technician for a cigarette packaging company in
the US, but the plan is to hire and train Caymanians for this work as the business expands. “Right now, I need someone with experience,” he said.

The dried tobacco is imported $150 lbs at a time in 5lb bags from a farm in Kentucky. Gutierrez noted that the tobacco in his cigarettes will seem looser than in the top brand names and that’s because the big tobacco companies use chemicals to make the dried tobacco sticky so that it packs in tighter. However, Blacktips actually have 33% more tobacco in them because the diameter of the filters is slightly wider than in brand names.

“The feedback is that Blacktips are a lot smoother than what people are used to. That’s the number one response,” he said.

Running his own business at just 23 is an impressive start, and Gutierrez said it was overwhelming at first. “Now it feels great, though a lot of pressure. It’s a dream — everyone wants to own their own business.”

Blacktip cigarettes, which come in regular, mild and menthol flavours, are sold at all Blackbeard’s and Big Daddy’s outlets, McRuss in Marine Drive, Mr Arthur’s on the waterfront in George Town, Lorna’s gas station in Bodden Town, and on the Brac at La Esperanza, Market Place and West End Rubis gas station. They retail for $5.50 to $6 per pack.

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Category: Local Business, Small Business

Comments (25)

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  1. Yung Caymanian says:

    How can these cigarettes be classified as better for smokers when the the dosage of nicotine and tar are almost double that of the brands currently being sold on island? I don't doubt that they have less chemicals than traditional brands, but it is a little misleading when the nicotine and tar content is far greater in Black Tips

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  2. Better Business Bureau says:

    Cordell, my brother, you clearly have some business chops, but it would be more beneficial to Cayman if you were to find another niche to capitalize on. Caymanians don't need our own people helping to poison us with 'cancer sticks'. As a 'non-smoker' yourself, you should have done a self-evaluation to see if this was a good idea.

    For example:

    Q: "Does the world need MORE poisonous cancer sticks on the market?"

    A: NO
    B: NO
    C: NO
    D: all of the above

    Financially, it may be lucrative, but health-wise, it is a poor choice.

    If you have some time this week, please take a trip down to the George Town hospital, review the gallery of Cancer Survivors (obviously not all are smokers) and then visit the Cancer Society and National Drug Council to learn more about the impacts of smoking.

    You are helping our people to DESTROY THEMSELVES!

    Please re-think this. Take all of your stock to Mount Trashmore today and set it on fire or ship it back to your suppliers along with the one employee.

    We DO NOT need this poison in Cayman. We are trying to STRENGTHEN this country and you are contributing to the 'weakness' of so many.

    Our government did such a great thing by outlawing smoking in public places. The next step should be to raise the tax on cigarettes by 10,000%.

    Do your part by shutting DOWN this business for our Country's sake.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Seriously, the cost of a T&B Licence for this type of business should be 100 times (or, a 1,000 times)that of a normal small business in Cayman...Sorry, I'm having problems with my zeros... I meant... 10,000 times.

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    • John says:

      Obesity causes as many health problems as tobacco use. Should we charge anyone that sells fried chicken 10,000X more for their T&B licence also?

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      • Better Business Bureau says:

        Actually, YES! Fast food and other types of unhealthy junk food should be astronomically more expensive than healthy food.

        Government should also give incentives to stores that provide healthy produce and other supplements at affordable prices. Health food restaurants should be given lower business licencing fees and other incentives to help to promote good health in Cayman.

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        • Anonymous says:

          This world needs a lot less people like you... All up on your high horse, trying to control what other people do. Get a life.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Sorry.. He's a fellow Bracker, but really can't support this venture. I spent many a year damaging my health with that poison and now I'm finally able to say I no longer and will never smoke again! To each their own.. But I will always advise anyone to stay away from this poison! Sorry again bro!

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Only in Cayman would it be thought of as a good idea to manufacture a product that kills millions around the globe, (many of them passive smokers) when the rest of the civilised world is turning its back on smoking.
    This is the kind of backwards mentality that is making Cayman a laughing stock, but I dare say some idiot will believe the myth of Caymans entrepreneurial spirit, (11:28).
    How can you possibly be happy for someone who is exploiting anothers dependence on nicotine for their own profit. It is immoral and dumb stupid to believe that this is filling a market void, it is simply encouraging your tobacco junkies and your children to raise their risks of dying from a tobacco related illness.
    If the CIG had any trace of common sense they would ban the importation of cigarette tobacco leaves or raise the importation duty to a prohibitive level before the consequences of this madness results in an increase of young smokers and the inevitable public health consequences for the future.
    I hope this young man reflects on his naivety when he visits a cancer centre to see first hand what his vile business is promoting. Put your money into something worthy of praise and stop trying to peddle death or serious ill health.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Or CIG could stay out of people's lives as much as possible, and not try to control what people wish to do with their own bodies/lives.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    The world needs more people like this to move forward. I don't and never have smoked cigarettes but If I did I would try his.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    You are well positioned for when we legalize weed son.

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  8. Strictly vaping says:

    Vaping is the future and the future is now. I like your entrepreneur spirit but I can't support you by buying cigs.
    Vaping saved my life!

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  9. Anon says:

    Black tip ? Don't you mean black lung! Err is this a joke. Who's actually checked, tested and verified that these cancer sticks are not more dangerous than a standard cigarette! This is a terrible idea, let's keep condoning smoking and make a package that looks cool that kids wanna buy! Stupid.

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  10. Sara says:

    Half of these people commenting have nothing good to say, because he is a HARD-WORKING YOUNG CAYMANIAN!!!! Typical " Crabs-in-a-bucket " mentality i swear. I bet you would have something else to say if he was on the road stealing, selling drugs & jobless! Congrats Cordell im so proud of u regardless of what these small minded people have to say.
    From your
    *Fellow Bracka!*

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    • Anonymous says:

      Isn't is strange that when it suits, those with names who are clearly not of 'historical' Caymanian heritage suddenly become 'hard working Caymanians' to promote their supporters warped sense of identity.
      What is different with this guys heritage to say that of a first or second generation 'paper Caymanian' or indeed anyone who comes to this place to contribute and become a naturalised citizen?
      It matters not whether he is a 1, 2 or 50 generation immigrant, those who follow should be treated with the same respect. I wonder, would a newly honoured status holder be cheered as a 'hard working Caymanian' or accused of 'exploiting hard working Caymanian smokers' by the dead heads who don't understand their own history, (or as I suspect, the history of their own immigrant fore fathers).

      You see, it's not the fact that he is obviously a man of Central or South American heritage, (for that I applaud him) it's the double standards and hypocracy that some seek to utilise to further a non sensical argument that I object to. Especially when it's the health of 'hard working Caymanians', or more likely, the disadvantaged, poor and young Caymanians that will inevitably suffer.
      These will undoubtably include the same people who hang around outside local bars during the working day and who drink the 345 swill from the local brewery. They are the uneducated, already have serious physical and/or mental health issues, are already unemployable with serious anti social behavioural issues and who are already in a financial or personal crisis.

      Just what they need, cheap nicotine to get them through another depressing day in paradise.

      So before you get on your nationalist, (and frankly idiotic) soapbox, think about who will have most to lose.

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      • Anonymous says:

        He's not an immigrant or a paper Caymanian nor is he from Central or South America. Completely raised in the Brac by a Caymanian woman and he doesn't speak a word of Spanish. If his surname wasn't Spanish, you would never know his heritage was from a Spanish country. His father is from Central America.

        At least he's trying something. I don't hear anyone objecting about Winston, Salem, Benson & Hedges and all the other foreign brands being sold here. Why object to a Caymanian making a few dollars?

        And the liquor? It's okay to get liquored up and drive and hit down people?

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  11. Anonymous says:

    This is awesome! I've met this young man and he will make it work! Good luck to this young Caymanian!

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  12. Anonymous says:

    Less harm-full cigarettes ? LOL . I imagine its better to kill Caymanians with Caymanian cigarettes instead of those dreadful imported ones? Possibly Mr. Gutierrez can inform the results of testing done on his fags , that show a decrease in potential long term damage the smoke does to the lungs, alveoli and bronchial passages . I am sure they have the result data on hand. This would be clinical laboratory testing , not Shamrock Road testing.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Awesome! I hope this endeavor succeeds . I am definitely a non smoker but I would never try to prevent anyone from smoking because of my lifestyle. Good luck

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  14. Anonymous says:

    YES! Regardless of how you feel about the risks associated with smoking cigarettes I am so please to see more Caymanians embracing entrepreneurship. Find a need in the market and fill it! The vape company did it and its a logical alternative to imported cigarettes which constantly have the duties increased as a deterrent.

    Please let us not hinder this type of entrepreneurial spirit with excessive red tape. Well done young man this made me very happy today!

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    • Smoke 'em if ya got' em says:

      And once an alternative to cigarettes, like Vape Juice and its required hardware becomes more popular and pushes revenue from cigarette import duties down, you must know the Government will increase duties on Vape Juice and its required hardware.

      Sin Tax my ass, no one in power really cares, it's all about the money, honey and if you got it, they have your disease.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    Maybe getting ahead of the curve for the day marijuana is legalised? Makes sense.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    Govt need to give him the GREEN light to roll ganja cigarettes.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    You're about 20 years too late bud. No one smokes anymore.

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