Tributes Paid To Former Hunters & Frankau Stalwart

MEMBERS will have been saddened to hear of the passing of Simon Chase, a leading light of the UK and indeed international cigar industry, in March. He was 74 and had been suffering from cancer.

Simon, who for years was seen at industry gatherings, both social and commercial, was Hunters’ Director of Marketing for many years, and knew his game inside out. He was revered worldwide as a cigar sage, and each year conducted the sometimes chaotic Habanos Festival Gala Dinner with humour and good grace. He helped raise tens of millions of dollars for Cuba’s health system. AITS members were always glad to see Simon at cigar events – not only was he a fount of knowledge, he was a considerable raconteur and an entertaining guest and speaker.

His passing leaves a huge gap in the UK cigar trade. His unique knowledge and authority gave him a level of credibility at Government level which will be hard to recreate; it was Chase’s tireless lobbying which ended in the granting of the Sampling exemption in the 2007 Smoking Ban – in hindsight a crucial move which has allowed cigar retailers to continue to trade and, indeed, expand. Many of our cigar specialists up and down the land now enjoy the hard-won benefits of this superlative piece of lobbying. Chase was also closely involved with planning for future legislative obstacles until recently, when ill health forced him finally to take a back seat.

Simon had the respect and the affection of thousands around the world – and we offer our condolences to his wife, family and friends. He will be remembered as one of the cigar world’s greatest pioneers, a fierce protector of its rights – and a friend to all at the AITS. We shall miss him.