The cigar industry had news for the shade of Vice President Thomas ("What this country needs . . .") Marshall. Thanks to a new process, an improved 5¢ cigar was on sale across the U.S. After nearly a century, tobacco makers have found a way to turn damaged leaves and leftovers into a synthetic leaf that is milder and cheaper than natural tobacco.

The synthetic leaf, called HTL (for "homogenized tobacco leaf," was first developed by General Cigar Co., fourth biggest U.S. cigar maker. Now in use in General Cigar's bestselling nickel...

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