Cigar Industry Mourns Loss of Tony Barone

Tobacco veteran, mentor passes away

Tony Barone Commonwealth – Altadis cigars tobacco (CSP Daily News / Convenience Stores / Gas Stations)

Tony Barone

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Tony Barone, former vice president of wholesale trade for tobacco company Commonwealth-Altadis Inc. until his retirement in May 2013, has died after a brief battle with cancer. He was 65.

Born in Ybor City, Fla., Barone was the fourth generation in his family to work with cigars. He worked in the industry for 37 years, first in sales for the BIC Corp. and its pens and tobacco lighters, and then with cigars. He first began with Hav-A-Tampa and then followed the years of acquisitions and mergers and stints heading up sales, marketing and national accounts.

A familiar refrain was that "Tony could sell a million cigars in a matter of minutes by simply picking up the phone and making a few calls." It was the way many people thought of him. But for those who knew him well, Tony's personal qualities and depth of character are what defined him best.

"Tony used to call on me when I was (a buyer) at Revco Drugstores," remembers Rich Ivancic, today a key account and private-label director for Altadis U.S.A.'s premium cigar division. "Little did I know that I would one day be working side by side and then directly for him on national accounts with the company. He was the same person on both sides of the desk."

Ivancic pointed to character and trust as to why Barone was so successful in selling cigars. As a buyer for a chain, "you could really depend on Tony for good information," and that was really important. If there were two companies wanting to partner with you, you could always feel comfortable working with him, he said.

The family will hold a life celebration on February 14 in Pompano Beach, Fla.

Commonwealth – Altadis Inc. is the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based USA Division of Imperial Tobacco Group serving customers and adult smokers throughout the Americas. We offer a broad portfolio of signature brands including USA Gold, Montclair, Dutch Masters, Backwoods and Phillies, and Phillies Krome.

CSP sends condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.