News: Sam Leccia Banned From 2011 IPCPR Trade Show *Updated 7/17/11*


Some disappointing new was shared by Sam Leccia on his Facebook account moments ago.


His statement is as follows,


I am saddened to announce that my Debut is on hold. I have been barred from attending the Cigar Show by court order. I will however, be vigorously pursuing Oliva’s failure to fulfill it’s contractual obligations to me and my family. I have faith in the legal system and I will see you all as soon as possible. Thank You all, from the bottom of my heart, for your continued support.

This is sad news and it is quite obvious the Nub brand has developed well without Sam at the helm, and one would think the marketplace would be big enough for both to get a piece of. It also leaves a sour taste in our stomach as this piece of gamesmanship is pretty petty. More as it develops…

Jose Oliva issued a statement from Las Vegas;

I am always amazed by how quickly people will draw conclusions with little more than marginal information.

Prudence prevents me from getting into details about this situation. I will however offer a few items for consideration.

The Oliva Cigar Co is not a big conglomerate, it is a small family owned business. The consistency of actions by the family and the company throughout the years should carry some weight when hasty generalizations are being made. For years Oliva has provided world class cigars at reasonable prices, even when the economy allowed for gouging. We have sought to bring new and innovative products to the genuine aficionado and to always advance our craft. Furthermore, the actual facts of the matter are not being sought by those eager to draw conclusions.

Consider that a judge heard facts that you have not and ruled accordingly. Consider also that during the course of future trials many more facts will be divulged. The life’s work of an honorable family and company should be considered. However, if that is not compelling enough, those who have taken an interest in this dispute should follow the litigation closely. Some patience may save you some “egg on the face” as well as surprise you.

First let me say I am a fan of Oliva cigars and some of their reps are the best around. The product is exceptional and the prices are fair. However, I find this statement from Oliva inflammatory. We should applaud them for not gouging prices? Did they imply other companies gouge? Not to mention the comment at the end is a slap in the face of the consumer. Let’s face it, people like Sam. The rumour has it that he was difficult to work with, but so far he has taken the high road. We all know the court of public opinion outweighs the legal courts. Afterall, both OJ Simpson and Casey Anthony were acquitted of murder. And right now to the consumer, Oliva appears to be guilty of being a bully.


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  • dmjones1009

    Gotta agree with your editorial analysis at this point, Barry. Jose Oliva may be completely “in the right” as far as his legal rights and obligations go and a judge may well come down on the Oliva side in this whole dispute before the day is over, but if the company comes off looking like a bully in the face of a small, independent competitor (and with Sam’s ties to Torano, that may not technically be the case fully, but it is the perception) I believe it will not help the company long term. If Jose or anyone else from Oliva happens to read this, let there be no mistake…I am a fan of your products…AND I am a fan of Sam. Jose’s right…I don’t know all the facts, but I can’t see this turning out favorably for either party if dirty laundry continues to be aired in public.

  • Tom Utter

    Oliva is rightfully worried about losing market share, and they ARE going to when Sam’s products start hitting shelves. But, if they’re not careful with the way they regard Leccia, then they’re going to lose from their fan base too!

  • Cigarpoet

    The reputation of a party may be greatly damaged even if he wins the case.


    Oliva has already lost some respect — even among those who are fans of the company and their cigars.

    It’s just sad to see how Oliva has not only shoved Sam Leccia out of the way but tried to erase Sam’s major contributions at Oliva, trying yo convince us that it was all due to the Studio Tobac team — as if Sam Leccia’s obvious contributions never happened.

    I’m sure there’s blame on both sides, yet it’s interesting how our perception is that Sam Leccia is taking the high road — all class — while Jose Oliva and family’s pontifications, lack of respect and bullying are reflecting just the opposite.

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  • jitzy

    Personally I have nothing against Sam since I don’t personally know him but the fact of the matter is this HE signed a 5 year non compete contract and you could bet your ass he was paid a shit ton of money to sign that contract no one held a gun to his head so to vilify Oliva is kinda crazy. Now lets talk about Sams contributions to Oliva yes they were good but honestly without Oliva footing the bill for all those clothes, events The CAR, The Motorcycle….Sam didn’t pay for all that advertizing Oliva did. If it weren’t for the big company behind him he would of fell to the wasteside like so many other start up brands do. Do I feel Sam earns some credit in all this? sure but the fact is he worked for Oliva when “he” came up with the Nub if he thought he could of made that brand what it is today he should of quit Oliva and then came out with it but he knew damn well that wasn’t gonna happen.

  • Barry


    There have been stories that tbhe 5 year non compete is a myth. One would think that Charlie Torano who is a lawyer wouldn’t have agreed to distribute the cigars if a non compete that was honored or for that long was in place.

    Fact is there are two sides to a story, but right now in the eyes of public perception people are in the corner of Sam.


  • jitzy

    Of course there is a non compete agreement, if there wasn’t Sam wouldn’t of publicaly said that Oliva wasn’t living up to there end of the agreement also if there was no agreement there would be no court cases and no injunctions stopping Sam from going to the show. Your right Charlie is a VERY smart man, my guess is this these cigar’s are already mad and with all this “Hype” around them now the way Torano could look at it is if Sam win’s the distribute under Sam’s label if not they sell them as their own illuding to the fact that they were indeed Sam’s cigar and sell them that way, either way it’s a win win for them. Don’t let your fondness of Sam cloud your judgement on this one Barry.

  • Barry


    Depends on how much Sam had on the input of the cigar. If it’s his blend, and his concept. Also depends on his contract with Torano. My point is this. If Sam had an iron clad non-compete for 5 years, Torano most likely would not of gotten involved.

    I’ve heard a lot of things behind the scenes that can flip flop how a person feels, however public opinion has people pretty upset at Oliva.

    Regardless if I am on the side of Sam or not, because at this point I am fairly neutral. I have friends in Oliva and Sam has been great toward me since the start of

    The point is Oliva right now looks like the bad guy. They don’t owe it to anyone, but if they have a rock solid case they should issue some kind of statement that lets people have an idea instead of talking about price gouging.

  • jitzy

    I do agree that Oliva’s official statement stinks but it also sounds like a P.R. guy wrote it and it didn’t come from the heart. The part of the whole statement that should really stick out to everyone honestly is the part were he says “a judge ruled accordingly” That stinks of a PR guy he’s making it like their was a trial and Sam lost which is far from the truth a judge more than likely had no choice but to ennact an injunction to have him stop his going forward with this company till an actual trial or a settlement can be reached. One thing everyone needs to think about however is this what does Oliva have to gain going after Sam and trying to ruin his company? I really don’t think it was going to hurt them financially if Sam came out with his own brand BUT if they paid him a lot of money for a non compete why shouldn’t they go after him. It’s the same thing if I had a contract with you and paid you $100 to not use a capital letter “C” in A
    Cigar Smoker and right after I paid you you put the capital “C” right back in your blog. I’d want my money back and I’d be pretty upset that you did that.

    PS if you end up in Orlando we gotta get together for a smoke it’s been too long.

  • http://cigarsmokersjournal johnnyv

    For what its worth, I thought the nub and the Cain were crappy overrated cigars that had Sam done on his own without Oliva, he’d fallen on his face. I do agree that Oliva is positioning studio tobac as if Sam never existed. Of course Sam has to take the high road. His attorney advised him to do so because that’s his only option against the big bad Oliva. Torano has minimal exposure non compete or not unless they actively recruited Sam which would just be plain stupid. Sam has all the exposure here.”Difficult to work with” can mean a lot of things and there’s no such thing as a rock solid non-compete clause these days.

  • Chris

    Sorry but I am not concerned about Sam. I don’t care where or how he ends up. As long as the company continues to produce quality cigars at reasonable prices. Satisfy the cigar consumer. I don’t give a hoot about Sam.

  • Jay

    This really isn’t a situation where Oliva is being the big, bad bully. Sam signed a no-compete contract and then violated it by starting a cigar company before the contract ended. Oliva has to press on with a lawsuit to protect their interests and the legality of the contract made with Sam. What would any contract with Oliva be worth if they just ignored those parties who don’t honor their side of the deal?

    Oliva is only looking like the bad guy in the eyes of those extremely loyal to Sam Leccia. Like Jose said, a judge heard the facts and deemed the ban appropriate. I think we should all wait until the facts are public before hanging Sam or Oliva.

  • Barry

    I think if Oliva handled the statement much differently it would of helped there case in the eyes of the consumer on the side of Sam.

  • Barry

    One more thing I as I said before. Charlie Torano is a lawyer, and one would think he would be aware of the whole situation before agreeing to work with Sam. I can’t see him taking on a brand knowing it had a 5 year non compete.

  • Jay

    My guess is that it poses little risk for Torano as they are only providing distribution.

  • Devils Advocate?

    Here is a thought. Maybe the non compete for 5 years was due to a flood of new product coming out and Oliva’s attempt to protect future product? For all we know Sam’s Debut could be a knockoff of Oliva’s next big hit…maybe the V Maduro knockoff since it is a big seller for them.

    I have heard for years that Sam was not the creator of the NUB or Cain cigars, but simply a face for the brand. He brought the young rocker look to the brand. He helped develop the blend, but I do not think he was the reason for the cigar or brain child.

    Sam did state that Oliva did not love up to their agreement, what was that agreement? Furthermore, do two wrongs make a right? I dont think so…

  • John

    Is Oliva being a bully or pursuing a course which they have no real choice. If you have a contract with a person and you chose not to enforce it, it sets a precedent whereby all others can ignore their contracts. Not only in employment matters.
    Also, doesn’t Sam have a suit against Oliva? Funny how no one is commenting about that.
    I like Sam and I stand by him, but the facts in this are not public yet everyone seems to be happy to draw conclusions from these meager rumors.
    I hope it comes to an early conclusion where both parties walk away happy.

  • Wayne

    I Will not smoke another Oliva Cigar. I have removed all of there cigars from my humidor and stomped on them!!! Sam will be back.

  • Adam Boca

    Before anyone else stomps in their Oliva’s please send them to me…I like Sam, but a good cigar is a good cigar!

  • http://n/a Jack

    Let’s face it, two parties involved in this battle have the true and factual knowledge to fight it out in court. Everything else written is 100% speculation. I smoke a ton of Oliva cigars. They make some of the best cigars on the market today. Sam’s Debut cigar (when it comes out) will no doubt be a great cigar too. I’ll continue to support Oliva and when Sam’s new stuff hits the shelves, I’ll try them too. If they’re as good as his Cain line, I’ll be a big buyer of them for sure. I don’t know either Jose or Sam. I do know they both make good cigars. I hope this is worked out so that both can move onward and upward. More often than not, the only ones winning in these battles are the lawyers,as they get paid big bucks to litigate these cases. Non competes can be very complicated. You can not prevent a man from making a living, that’s a fact. However, as a business owner, you do have the right to protect your interests. Charlie Torano is an attorney IIRC. Surely he must believe Sam had some merit in going out on his own, otherwise I doubt he would have signed on to distribute Sam’s new line. Want my advice Sam and Jose, shake hands, settle out of court, and move forward like gentleman. The cigar business is one of the last left in the world where a handshake is still considered the honorable way to do business. Move on guys, life is too short. If you need to battle, how about spending that time and money on battling all the anti smoking zealots that look to crush us cigar smokers like ants. You won’t get better advice than this. Trust me, I ran a HUGE business for many years and eventually sold it for a good buck. good luck to all of you.

  • Phil Kohn

    I agree that this is a contentious issue, but using O J Simpson and Casey Anthony as an analogy is way out of line.
    How do you compare two murderers to a cigar company’s behavior?

  • Barry


    My point was that public opinion sometimes outweighs what the courts decide. I did not compare sam or oliva to them.


  • Dante

    Jose Oliva can suck it.

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