New Antrim Tobacco Crisis

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Grand Duke Travis standing with the single mature tobacco plant grown in the Protectorate of New Antrim

The New Antrim Tobacco Crisis was a conflict that occurred between the Protectorate of New Antrim and its parent state, the Republic of Molossia. The dispute centered on New Antrim's right to grow tobacco and produce hand-rolled tobacco products. After six months of posturing and threats, the conflicted parties reached an agreement and the dispute came to an end in January 2008.

Prelude to the crisis

In 2004, three years before New Antrim became a protectorate of Molossia, President Kevin Baugh issued Proclamation 041209, which banned use and possession of tobacco products within the borders of Molossia. The penalty for violating the proclamation was a 50 Valora fine and/or deportment from the country.

New Antrim's tobacco plants

When he was ruling New Antrim, Grand Duke Travis also lived in Virginia, and decided to try his hand at growing tobacco. He purchased over 1,000 Cuban tobacco seeds and planted them in his backyard garden. Of these seeds, only three successfully grew into tobacco plants, and of those three, only one grew into a mature plant. Throughout the long growth period of this plant, Travis was privately concerned that he might be in violation of Proclamation 041209, although President Baugh had never explicitly banned tobacco inside the borders of New Antrim.

Presidente cigars

A Presidente cigar, hand-rolled in New Antrim

In July 2007, Travis began creating "Presidente" brand cigars that were to be the first domestically produced export of New Antrim. He sent the first shipment of cigars to President Baugh, who quickly condemned the creation of tobacco products as well as the importation of cigars into Molossia proper. To the President, it seemed to be a flagrant violation of his prohibition against tobacco. However, Travis viewed the creation of Presidente cigars to be a private enterprise carried out entirely independent of Molossia.

Crisis begins

Grand Duke Travis visiting the cigar rolling factory of New Antrim

On 5 August 2007, President Baugh clarified the situation and declared that Molossia's laws extended to New Antrim and must be followed. Travis replied by recording a video encouraging the residents of New Antrim to "Smoke 'em if you got 'em." In the same video, he taunted the President by asking "Have you got a light?" President Baugh responded to the video with a video of his own, pleading for a peaceful resolution to the crisis and asking for further talks to discuss how the interests of New Antrim can be taken into account while the laws of Molossia are respected.

Grand Duke Travis interviewing a juvenile cigar roller during a break from the tobacco production line

Retort and escalation

Travis then took a different approach and recorded a video tour of New Antrim's tobacco production operation. He started by showing viewers the lone tobacco plant growing in his garden. The tour then arrived at the cigar rolling facility in a backyard shed. Two young citizens of New Antrim, Prince Daniel Nicholas and Prince Ashton Roman, had been impressed into work as child laborers rolling cigars in the factory.

During the video tour, they appeared to be diligently and happily rolling tobacco leaves, although President Baugh later decried the use of child labor. To express the importance of the tobacco industry to New Antrim, Travis interviewed a pipe-smoking laborer who was relaxing after a long day in the factory. The child laborer replied that he was quite happy working in the factory and it caused him no hardship. Of course, the child was too young to actually speak, but he nodded his head in agreement.

After this exchange, the crisis came to a head and there were threats of revolution in New Antrim.

End to the crisis

By January 2008, Travis had come to the realization that he was isolated and alone without any help during the crisis. He reached out to President Baugh and agreed that it was time to negotiate. Among the terms agreed upon, it was decided that citizens of New Antrim may import tobacco products in limited quantities for personal consumption only but must immediately cease and desist in the growing and export of tobacco or tobacco products.

As talks moved forward, a storm destroyed New Antrim's tobacco crop, and brought an abrupt end to the protectorate's tobacco industry. Nevertheless, the President stood by his commitment to negotiate and continued to honor his side of the bargain. The result is the terms mentioned above, as well as disaster relief aid for the tobacco growers unemployed by the storm damage.