Public Relations, Marketing &
Personal Representation

Check out our blog at blog.tortoricipr.com!
News & Notes

      Most Romantic Valentine’s Day Ever?

Savannah, GA  January 22, 2013 – What’s more romantic than Valentine’s Day or a long Valentine’s weekend at Savannah’s renowned Ballastone Inn?  A complimentary long-stemmed rose and free split of champagne plus priority dinner reservations at one of the city’s finer restaurants, that’s what, according to Jennifer Salandi, owner of the Ballastone.

 “Make it look like you’ve planned this for weeks and call us now because our availabilities are limited,” said Salandi. “We’ll make it a Valentine’s celebration you and your partner will never forget.

 “I order the long-stemmed, large-head roses special, and pick them out myself.  Then each rose is placed bedside in an antique sterling and crystal bud vase. At turndown or check in, a quality split of champagne is presented to the two of you, in addition to all the other food and beverage offerings of the Ballastone throughout the day,” said Salandi.

 Salandi explains that, although many of the city’s finer restaurants are already sold out for Valentine’s, the Ballastone’s concierge can sometime “work miracles.”

 “We work with all the top-rated restaurants in town, and we have special relationships
with four of them, in particular. They include The Olde Pink House, Elizabeth on 37th, Alligator Soul and Circa 1875,” Salandi said.

Built in 1838, the restored luxury inn boasts a history as rich as its furnishings. Today, the Ballastone pampers well-heeled travelers who have come to expect the kind of four-star service the Ballastone Inn provides.

Located at 14 East Oglethorpe Avenue in Savannah’s historic district, the Ballastone is convenient to the best dining, shopping, and local culture that Savannah has to offer.  Featuring a parlor and private bar plus 16 sumptuously outfitted bedrooms on four floors, the beautifully decorated Victorian-style mansion includes an elevator, private courtyard garden and off-street parking with 24-hour surveillance.

Salandi says her professional staff and concierge services are always working to make guests’ getaway vacations, romantic weekends and business trips a pleasure. 

“We’re proud of our gourmet breakfasts and, in the afternoon, our guests enjoy high tea served in the inn’s parlor. There, they enjoy a selection of teas from Harney & Sons served on antique silver while indulging in a lovely selection of fresh scones, tea sandwiches, homemade pastries and other hors d’oeuvres, most of which are featured in our Ballastone cookbook. Offered at our private Victorian bar are seven quality, boutique wines from a selection of elite vintners as well as complimentary port and sherry. A special selection of ice cold beer is available all day,” she added.

“We also provide free Wi-Fi in every room plus the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and the Savannah Morning News delivered daily.”

More information about the Ballastone Inn is available at www.ballastone.com, by email at inn@ballastone.com or by calling (912) 236-1484 or (800) 822-4553 and, with nearly 4,000 members, the Ballastone Inn’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/ballastone is another way to keep up with events and future promotions offered at the Inn.

# # #

Contact:               Tony Tortorici, Tortorici & Randolph
                              678-493-0313 or tony@tortoricipr.com

EDITORS – Visitors to Savannah’s Ballastone Inn tend to come primarily from the states of Georgia and Florida, of course, but they include guests from California, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas and Washington, DC.  Other guests come from Arizona, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia as well as from other states and around the world.

Living Large with Living Social at Savannah’s Ballastone Inn

 Savannah, GA  July 31, 2012 – Living large is easier than ever at the Ballastone Inn, chosen year after year as Savannah’s Most Romantic Inn and its Best Bed and Breakfast, says owner Jennifer Salandi.

 Salandi has partnered with Living Social to offer two nights for loving couples in a deluxe room for $274 or a suite or junior suite at $375, regularly valued at $548 and $750, respectively. Available since July 30, only a limited number of the specially priced packages are still available for purchase online through August 8 at http://tinyurl.com/c2nyfyr.

 Built in 1838, the restored luxury inn boasts a history as rich as its furnishings, having served as both a bordello and a home for the Girl Scouts of America - but not at the same time, Salandi wryly explained. 

 Today, the Inn pampers well-heeled travelers who have come to expect the kind of four-star service the Ballastone Inn provides. The Living Social special offer includes a bonus bottle of red or white wine in-room on arrival, the famous Ballastone Inn gourmet breakfast for two, formal afternoon tea, and savory hors d’oeuvres.

 Located at 14 East Oglethorpe Avenue in Savannah’s historic district, the Ballastone is convenient to the best dining, shopping, and local culture that Savannah has to offer.  Featuring a parlor and private bar plus 16 sumptuously outfitted bedrooms on four floors, the beautifully decorated Victorian-style mansion includes an elevator, private courtyard garden and off-street parking with 24-hour surveillance.

 Salandi says her professional staff and concierge services are always working to make guests’ getaway vacations, romantic weekends and business trips a pleasure. 

 “In the afternoon, our guests enjoy high tea served in the inn’s parlor where they steep over a selection of teas from Harney & Sons served on antique silver while indulging in freshly cut salmon sandwiches, blueberry scones with Devonshire cream and other Dixie delights. Later, the evening’s hors d’oeuvres are served at our private Victorian bar where they enjoy a selection of seven boutique wines, champagne or complimentary port and sherry. A special selection of ice cold beer is available all day,” Salandi said.

 “We also provide free Wi-Fi and television in every room plus the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and the Savannah Morning News delivered daily,” she added.

 Full details of the Living Social offer are available at http://tinyurl.com/c2nyfyr.  Salandi explained that the two-for-one promotional value expires on December 31, 2012.

 More information about the Ballastone Inn is available at www.ballastone.com, by email at inn@ballastone.com or by calling (912) 236-1484 or (800) 822-4553 and, with nearly 4,000 members, the Ballastone Inn’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/ballastone is another way to keep up with events and future promotions offered at the Inn.

# # #

As Long, Hot Summer Cools, Don’t Miss Specials at Savannah’s Historic Ballastone InnSavannah, GA  July 17, 2012 – Now that the long, hot summer is turning a tad cooler, reward yourself by spending a few days at Savannah’s Ballastone Inn before the summer specials run out, suggests Jennifer Salandi , owner of the four-star bed and breakfast chosen year after year as Savannah’s Most Romantic Inn and its Best Bed and Breakfast.

 According to Salandi, the Ballastone’s best summer vacation rates are available Monday through Thursday through August, 2012.  Go to www.ballastone.com, email to inn@ballastone.com or call 912/236-1484 or 800/822-4553 for availability and more information. Regular room rates range from $179 to $365.

 Originally built in 1838, the Ballastone Inn is located at 14 East Oglethorpe Avenue in Savannah’s historic district, convenient to the best dining, shopping, local culture and attractions.  The intimate, luxury Inn features a parlor and private bar plus 16 sumptuously outfitted bedrooms on four floors. The beautifully decorated Victorian-style mansion includes an elevator, private courtyard garden and limited off-street parking.

 Salandi says her professional staff and concierge services are the best Savannah has to offer, always working to make guests’ getaway vacations, romantic weekends and business trips as pleasurable as possible.  Several Ballastone vacation packages are available including a Walk, Ride and Dine Tour; Savannah Dinner and Sightseeing Tour; Ladies Weekend Getaway Package; the Earl Moore Walking Tour and a Romantic Getaway Package.

 “Our staff also will make arrangements for an historic carriage ride, nature tours, golf outings, the best private guided tours or anything else to help make Ballastone visits even more special,” said Salandi.

 “Many of our guests head for the beach after breakfast. Tybee Island is only minutes away. We set them up with beach chairs and beach towels and include a simple picnic lunch, too,” she said. “But the best part is returning to the Ballastone and washing the salt water out of your hair in your room’s elegant bath. Then, you might want to take a short nap in the cool comfort of your antique-rich room before you come downstairs for a glass or two of crisp, chilled white wine and some tempting nibbles prior to your night out on the town,” she added.

 “Every moment at the Ballastone is special, whether you are enjoying the comfortable luxury of the parlor and bar or the intimate elegance of the rooms and suites,” Salandi said. “We also provide a gourmet breakfast, a charming afternoon tea, and tasty evening hors d’oeuvres plus fine wines from our private bar.  There’s free WiFi and television in every room plus the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and the Savannah Morning News delivered daily, if you must stay in touch with the outside world while you are staying with us.”

EDITORS – Visitors to Savannah’s Ballastone Inn tend to come primarily from the states of Georgia and Florida, of course, but they include guests from California, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas and Washington, DC.  Other guests come from Arizona, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia as well as from other states and around the world.

# # #

       ESSENCE OF SCOTLAND’S LEGENDARY BALMORAL ESTATE COMING TO ATLANTAAtlanta, Georgia July 9, 2012 -- The legend of Balmoral Estate, Scottish home of the British Royal Family since 1848, is about to come alive in Atlanta, Georgia complete with high tea, haggis and single malt scotch, around-the-clock English butlers, a Scottish bagpiper at sunset, and gillies to tend the trout-stocked lake.

 The idyllic estate in the shadow of Scotland’s Lochnagar Mountain along with Pennyhill Park, an upscale destination resort in Bagshot, England, and Savannah’s Ballastone Inn are the inspiration behind the 50-rooms and suites of Balmoral Court Hotel and Spa, according to developer and operator Tarby Bryant of the Sweetwater Hospitality Group.

 The intimate north Atlanta-area facility will feature a core hotel building surrounded by ten thatched roof English cottages, each with its own 24/7 English butler, five large bedrooms and elegant baths, and a butler’s pantry. Behind each cottage will be an English botanical garden, while a shepherd and Blackie the border collie will guide a herd of South African Dorper sheep over the hotel’s rolling, grassy acreage. Balmoral Court room rates are expected to range from $275 to $500 per night.

 According to Bryant, the $30 million boutique resort will be open by mid-2013 situated on up to 125 acres in North Atlanta adjacent to a 15-25 acre lake and an 18-hole golf course. The main hotel core building will include reception, two formal parlors , a library,  three meeting rooms for up to 60 corporate guests, a world class, 60-seat, dinner-only five-star restaurant and a luxury 10,000 sq. ft. spa.

Bryant has partnered with Hardin Construction Company and Advent Construction Management who will employ up to 400 tradesmen during construction. Balmoral Court will operate with 80 highly trained full- and part-time staff. Architectural design of the unique facility has begun by Rabun Architects of Atlanta. PKF Consulting will be engaged for market and feasibility work.  Although Bryant has narrowed his search for what he considers the perfect site, he continues to scour North Atlanta locations to be sure he has the best possible location for his dream resort concept.

As unique as the destination resort will be, so will be its financing, according to Bryant who is offering ownership and leaseback of the ten English cottages. Ownership of each of the ten Balmoral Court cottages is being offered to private investors at $1.5 million each. The hotel will lease back each cottage for $150,000 per year and will pay all upkeep and maintenance, utilities, taxes, insurance and replacement of furniture, fixtures and equipment, as needed, to maintain five-star resort standards.

About Tarby Bryant

Bryant is former CEO of the Atlanta Economic Development Corporation. He is a founder of and currently operates The Gathering of Angels, an Atlanta-based angel-investment organization that helps find capital for seed and early stage companies.  His career includes having served as developer, CEO or Managing General Partner of eight luxury hotels including a Hyatt Regency, two Hiltons, and a Stouffers. Bryant was the merchant banker on the Four Seasons Atlanta Hotel. He managed the restoration of Savannah’s exclusive Ballastone Inn in 1980 and operated it until 1986. It continues today as one of Georgia’s premier boutique hospitality facilities. More information about Tarby Bryant is at http://gatheringofangels.com/tarby.html.


Typical cottage at proposed Balmoral Court Hotel & Spa

# # #

STATEMENT June 8, 2012:

Evander Holyfield is travelling and unavailable for comment.  His senior advisor – Tony Tortorici – had this to say about today’s reports:“Evander Holyfield’s personal financial situation is complicated. He and his closest friends and advisors are working together to resolve these issues as quickly as possible. 

“His house, for example, was purchased by J.P. Morgan Chase, technically as part of a foreclosure. However, Evander continues to live in the house while options are being pursued.  He is confident that an amiable agreement will be reached soon to resolve this situation.

“As for claims related to child support payments, Evander denied that any of his children have ever been deprived of anything that they wanted. He recently was quoted as saying, ‘I love my kids and my kids love me. They have been well provided for and have never been deprived of anything. There is no closer bond between a father and his children than I have with my kids and no amount of irresponsible allegations can change that.’

“Evander’s popularity as a five-time world heavyweight champion continues. He is in great demand for appearances, sponsorships and charity events throughout the U.S. and around the world. He’s really a very nice guy whose sincerity, Christianity, positive outlook and frequent references to what his mother taught him help him deal with such matters day by day.”
                                                        #  #  #

EVANDER HOLYFIELD NAMES TORTORICI & RANDOLPH
            AGENCY OF RECORD FOR WORLDWIDE MARKETING, PR

ATLANTA, GA  June 1, 2012 -- Global boxing icon Evander Holyfield today named the Atlanta marketing and public relations firm of Tortorici & Randolph, Inc. and its owner, Anthony J. Tortorici, as agency of record and senior advisor, respectively, regarding all worldwide marketing and media relations for the only five-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world, Holyfield Management, Inc. and the Holyfield Foundation.

According to Holyfield, all incoming marketing proposals and news media inquiries regarding these entities will be submitted to Tortorici for review, research and recommendation. In addition, the agency will develop new marketing and media opportunities for Holyfield and his Foundation and will manage their implementation.

Tortorici served 13 years as Vice President of Public Relations for Coca-Cola USA followed by two years as Executive Vice President of Marketing for Ogilvy & Mather PR in New York City before he founded his own Atlanta-based agency 20 years ago. The agency since has served clients including Chick-fil-A, BellSouth, Atlanta Paralympic Games, International Special Olympics, Rubbermaid, Shell Energy, General Electric, and several celebrities, sports teams, foundations, associations and other organizations.

"We are proud and honored to be serving this remarkable athlete and very special human being as part of his senior management team. Evander is, indeed, the "Real Deal" and he has much to offer his legions of fans on every continent by giving back to them directly and through his Foundation which is being reactivated. There isn't a goal that he has set that he hasn't accomplished, and we will flat out do our best to help him continue to do so in the future," Tortorici said.



                                                           # # #
===== ===== ===== ===== ===== ===== ===== ===== ===== =====

FOR IPCPR NEWS RELEASES AFTER AUGUST 9, 2011, PLEASE SEE:

 

  June 1, 2012 -- Global boxing icon Evander Holyfield today named the Atlanta marketing and public relations firm of Tortorici & Randolph, Inc. and its owner, Anthony J. Tortorici, as agency of record and senior advisor, respectively, regarding all worldwide marketing and media relations for the only five-time heavyweight boxing champion of the world, Holyfield Management, Inc. and the Holyfield Foundation. According to Holyfield, all incoming marketing proposals and news media inquiries regarding these entities will be submitted to Tortorici for review, research and recommendation. In addition, the agency will develop new marketing and media opportunities for Holyfield and his Foundation and will manage their implementation. Tortorici served 13 years as Vice President of Public Relations for Coca-Cola USA followed by two years as Executive Vice President of Marketing for Ogilvy & Mather PR in New York City before he founded his own Atlanta-based agency 20 years ago. The agency since has served clients including Chick-fil-A, BellSouth, Atlanta Paralympic Games, International Special Olympics, Rubbermaid, Shell Energy, General Electric, and several celebrities, sports teams, foundations, associations and other organizations. "We are proud and honored to be serving this remarkable athlete and very special human being as part of his senior management team. Evander is, indeed, the "Real Deal" and he has much to offer his legions of fans on every continent by giving back to them directly and through his Foundation which is being reactivated. There isn't a goal that he has set that he hasn't accomplished, and we will flat out do our best to help him continue to do so in the future," Tortorici said.                                                            # # # ===== ===== ===== ===== ===== ===== ===== ===== ===== =====

 

 

WWW.IPCPR/NEWSROOM.HTML
 

 

 IPCPR Says 'NO' to Proposed Alexandria, LA Smoking Ban Extension

Alexandria, Louisiana  August 9, 2011 – The crossroads of Louisiana may well be at a crossroads of its own when it comes to recognizing the rights of its citizens and local businesses.

Alexandria sits in the geographic center of the state of Louisiana.  City leaders passed a smoking ban in restaurants one year before the state did in 2007. Now some city officials are considering a total ban, a move that would eliminate the exemption of Alexandria’s bars and gaming establishments from the statewide ban.

“Statewide, the only places you cannot smoke are restaurants. For several years now, a small group of prohibitionists have consistently failed in their efforts to expand the state’s smoking ban to include bars.  Although we are grateful that cigar shops and cigar bars are exempt from the state ban, the Alexandria proposal is simply a local attempt to get around the state’s defiant rejection of a more restrictive smoking ban,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director for the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

McCalla said that legislated smoking bans are an affront to the rights of citizens and businesses alike.

“We fully support the right of individual business owners to choose to make their establishments smoke free or not. However, when the government steps in and tells them how to run their businesses, it has gone too far. That’s what legislated smoking bans do,” he said.

The IPCPR is an international association of retailers and manufacturers of premium cigars, pipes, tobaccos and related accoutrements with dozens of members throughout the state of Louisiana.

“Extending the smoking  ban in this Central Louisiana city could have a negative economic impact throughout the state where we have dozens of members - small businesses that employ local workers and pay local salaries,  and local, state and federal taxes. Why, in these perilous economic times, would any legislator – local, state or federal – take up a virtually meaningless yet job-killing issue like extended smoking bans?” McCalla asked.

McCalla also challenged claims being made by prohibitionists who seek support for their position.

“They are making health-related claims that are outrageous and indefensible. They are quoted in the local media as saying lives are being lost because of the limited smoking ban. This is a ridiculous claim that needs to be challenged.  They can’t substantiate it, because it’s not true. They say a compromise should be reached on the subject.  Well, when Americans start compromising their rights and freedoms, they are embarking on a slippery slope toward lost freedoms of all kinds,” McCalla asserted.

McCalla urged Alexandria residents to tell their city council representatives that an expanded smoking ban is not needed, not necessary and unwanted in this Rapide Parish city.

###

 

 

 

 

 St. Louis County Cigar Store Owners Seek to Maintain Exemptions

St. Louis, Missouri  July 28, 2011 – Local premium cigar store owners who are small-business members of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association are urging St. Louis County leaders to maintain their exemptions from the current smoking ban.

The Council is not required to give notice on amending a current law. Nonetheless, word got out that an amendment was being considered and proponents of both sides were represented at Tuesday night’s Council meeting.

“It’s too late to save all the businesses that were hurt, the scores of jobs that were lost, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes that won’t be collected due to enactment of the current smoking ban.  But only less than 200 establishments fall within the exemptions to that law and, because of the nature of their businesses, they should be allowed to remain exempt,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

McCalla said that prohibitionists’ outrageous claims regarding the alleged negative health effects of secondhand smoke based on junk science are to blame for misleading the public and causing the economic and other unnecessary challenges to the sale of legal tobacco products.

“The levels of secondhand smoke that might cause potential issues to interior air quality are 25,000 times higher than might be found in normal restaurants and bars where smoking is permitted.  That’s not just us saying that. It’s the Occupational Safety and Health Administration – OSHA – a division of the United States Department of Labor, which set these standards,” McCalla said.

Some business establishments which are forced to comply with the ban feel that those exempt should be bound by the same restrictions.

“We firmly believe that there should be establishments for smokers and others for non-smokers. However, it should be up to the business owners to determine whether or not their establishments are smoke free or not.  Just because one business owner is forced by law to do so doesn’t mean another business should be forced to do so, as well,” McCalla pointed out.

“We are urging out members and their customers to notify their council representatives to tell them that the smoking ban is damaging enough to local businesses and that removal of the handful of exemptions that remain is adding insult to injury,” he said.

# # #

 

 

 

 Premium Cigar Association Names Spann Chief Executive Officer

 

Columbus, GA  July 17, 2011– The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association based in Columbus, Georgia, has named William S. Spann as its new Chief Executive Officer.  Spann was introduced to the association at its 79th Annual Convention & International Trade Show held July 17-21 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Spann had served as chief of staff of the Florida Office of Financial Regulation and, before that, as president and chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of Greater Florida.  He served as part of Governor Jeb Bush’s executive leadership team first as communications director and then chief of staff at the Florida Department of Children & Families.

He earned the rank of Commander during a 20 year-career with the U.S. Navy.  His final duty station was as Director of Communications for the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis where he also taught Ethics and Moral Decision Making for the Junior Officer

Spann replaces Joe Rowe who retired as Executive Director after ten years at the helm of the IPCPR.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors of the IPCPR, I want to extend a hearty welcome to Bill Spann who, we are confident, will help continue moving the association forward in behalf of its retail and manufacturing members. At the same time, we wish Joe Rowe a long and happy retirement. He will be missed,” said Gary Pesh, president of the IPCPR.

About IPCPR

With more than 2,000 members throughout the U.S. and 31 foreign countries, the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association is the leading non-profit industry organization representing retailers, manufacturers and distributors of hand-made cigars, pipes and accessories.  Stores displaying the IPCPR logo are recognized as premier purveyors of premium tobacco products. Members of IPCPR have access to IPCPR market research, trade shows, services, publications, and participation in community, constitutional and legislative action programs.

# # #

 

 

 

Wayne Newton to Accept Donation to USO Las Vegas at IPCPR Tradeshow 

Richmond, VA, July 16, 2011— Wayne Newton will join representatives of the USO Las Vegas in accepting a $20,000 donation from General Cigar on behalf of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) on Monday, July 18 at 2:00 PM at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in the Venetian Hotel.

General Cigar and the IPCPR are making the donation to support the “$1K a Day” campaign created to help fund the USO Las Vegas facility in McCarran Airport.  Doug Bradford, center director of USO Las Vegas says it takes about $900 a day to operate the facility, which has been visited by more than 17,000 people with military ties since its opening last Veteran’s Day.

“The ‘$1K a Day’ campaign is the perfect way for businesses and individuals to show their support for our nation’s armed forces,” said Bradford. “The importance of letting our men and women in the military know that we do not take for granted what they do for our country, every day, cannot be stressed enough.” 

“Entertaining the men and women of our armed forces overseas has been one of the highlights of my life,” said entertainer and USO tour veteran Wayne Newton. “I have been associated with the USO for decades and am honored to join the organization in accepting General Cigar and the IPCPR’s generous donation which will go a long way in helping fund the USO’s new Las Vegas center.”

General Cigar and the IPCPR will be in Las Vegas for the IPCPR’S 79th annual convention and international trade show which brings premium cigar manufacturers and retailers together to celebrate the industry and debut new products.

“We chose to represent the premium cigar category by contributing to the USO because we value the organization’s heritage and long-term commitment to supporting members of the U.S. Armed Forces bravely serving our country all over the world,” said Dan Carr president of General Cigar. “We are honored to assist the USO in enhancing their presence in the city of Las Vegas which has graciously welcomed the IPCPR tradeshow for many years.”

The USO has more than 160 locations worldwide that serve as a home away from home for our military. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the organization and its mission to lift the spirits of America’s troops and their families. For more information about the USO Las Vegas "$1k a Day" campaign or to learn how to contribute, contact Doug Bradford, USO Las Vegas Center Director at 702-261-6590. 

General Cigar’s commitment to supporting the USO stems from its comprehensive corporate citizenship program which is underwritten solely by the company. Since 1992, General Cigar has actively provided agricultural, environmental and educational support in the Dominican Republic and Honduras, where its premium cigars are handcrafted. 

About General Cigar

General Cigar Co. Inc., a division of Scandinavian Tobacco Group, manufactures and markets handcrafted cigars for the premium market. Committed to delivering cigars of the finest quality, General Cigar’s skilled artisans produce Macanudo®, Cohiba®,  La Gloria Cubana®, Punch®, CAO, Partagas®, Hoyo de Monterrey®, Excalibur® and several other leading premium brands in the company’s Dominican, Honduran and Nicaraguan factories.

In addition, the company cultivates proprietary tobacco which is used exclusively in its blends. General Cigar also operates Club Macanudo®, a cigar bar in New York City. Based in Richmond, VA, General Cigar sells through tobacconists nationwide and also exports select products to 62 countries. For more information, please visit www.cigarworld.com.

Macanudo, Partagas, Cohiba, Punch, La Gloria Cubana, Partagas, Hoyo de Monterrey, Excalibur and Club Macanudo are registered trademarks of General Cigar Co. Inc.

About the IPCPR

With more than 2,000 members throughout the U.S. and 31 foreign countries, the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association is the leading non-profit industry organization representing retailers, manufacturers and distributors of hand-made cigars, pipes and accessories.  Stores displaying the IPCPR logo are recognized as premier purveyors of premium tobacco products.

Members of IPCPR have access to IPCPR market research, trade shows, services, publications, and participation in community, constitutional and legislative action programs.

About USO
The USO (United Service Organizations) lifts the spirits of America’s troops and their families millions of times each year at hundreds of places worldwide.  We provide a touch of home through centers at airports and military bases, top quality entertainment and innovative programs and services. We also provide critical support to those who need us most, including forward-deployed troops and their families, wounded warriors and their families and the families of the fallen.

The USO is a private, non-profit organization, not a government agency. We rely on the generosity of our volunteers and donors.  In addition to individual donors and other corporate sponsors, the USO is supported by Worldwide Strategic Partners: American Airlines, AT&T Inc., BAE Systems, The Boeing Company, Clear Channel Communications, The Coca-Cola Company, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft Corporation, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Procter & Gamble and TriWest Healthcare Alliance. We are also supported through the United Way and Combined Federal Campaign (CFC-11381).  To join us in this patriotic mission and to learn more about the USO, please visit www.uso.org.

# # #

 

 

 

 U.S. Tobacconists Complete Certification

Columbus, Georgia  June 20, 2011— Tobacconist University, the official curriculum resource of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association, has conveyed the distinction of Certified Retail Tobacconist on the following recipients:

 

Matthew Allen Boris L. Grossman Luis Roberto Molina
Ronald Alred Steven Harper Liam A. O'Malley
Jason Bean Greg Hernke Erich Orris
Charles E. Bingham Therina Himes Zack Photakis
Jeff Borysiewicz Jetmira Kaziu Donna M. Phillips
K. Allen Byrd Roy Kirby Cindy Pinkerton
Amy Bruno David Kleehamer Matthew Robison
James S. Cohen Reed Kyrk Robert A. Roth
Dyanna Coholich Phillip Ledbetter Russell Salvatore
Alex Diaz Perry Lowe Dylan Schneider
Danny Ditkowich Abe Lyle Tami Schuck
Rose Ann Edmiston Alex B. Mayer Neal Thompson
Douglas J. Fiore David G. Mayer Jorge Luis Valdes
Terry Fournier Michael McCarthy Jenny L. Wilson
Patrick Gallagher Matt McGill Robert E. Wood
Brandon Graham Cortney McGowan Wayne Young

These tobacconists were awarded CRT recognition after participating in an academic curriculum and testing process that enabled them to achieve superior technical and marketing knowledge about premium cigars, pipes, premium tobacco and related accessories.

Tobacconist University is an independent teaching and research organization dedicated to preserving the traditions and enhancing the knowledge and skills of retailers and consumers who appreciate luxury tobacco and adhere to a high code of industry ethics and standards.

The IPCPR is a non-profit association comprised of more than 2,000 owners and employees of small, family-owned cigar stores and businesses primarily engaged in the manufacturing, sales, marketing and distribution of premium cigars, pipes, loose tobacco and related items.

# # #


 

 

 

 U.S. Tobacconists Accepted Into Premium Cigar Association

Columbus, Georgia  June 13, 2011 – The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) today announced newly inducted members for the first half of 2011.  The newly qualified members include:

 

Clint Aaron Frank Herrera Joey Nickels
Nagem Ahman Chip Hight Arthur Notini
Omar Alkatout Wesam Ibrahim John O'Neill
J. Manuel Alvarez Mohidul Islam Maria Pantaleone
Adam Aprim John Jain Joe Petrasek
Sam Atalah Ali Jawad Ken Pope
David Berk Todd Johnson Michael Powell
Joey Bowen Kris Kachaturian Aaron Purser
James Burke Fayez Karroum Peter Quercia
Rudy Ced Jason Katz Jose Ramos
Bassem Chahine Matt King Kenneth Reid
Theresa Cox Chaz Kline Lou Rodriguez
Paul Cronin Randy Kniss Bryan Roth
Jay Davis Jacob Knopke Ryan Salem
Scott Elrad Fatos Koleci Jack Sanzeri
Yeniv Erez Patrick Kunish Nicholas Scarcella
Marlies Fernandez Issam Latif David Scott
Geri Feverstein Maria Martin Philip Segal III
Bill Fink, Jr. Jon McCabe William Sheldon
Gilbert Flores Fred McCarthy Kelsey Tedeschi
Lionel Gadwa, Jr. Michael McCoy Matt Urbano
Eduardo Garcia Trevor McDowell Gonzalo Valiente
Luis Garcia Scott Menefee Joe Van Dudenhove III
George HaFoury Marc Miclette Darrel Vigil
Patsy Hasley Mark Miyahira Josh Weltmer
Gary Heathcott Daniel More Hall Wilson
Brad Heider Johnny Muheizen Todd Wilson

 


As members of IPCPR, they have access to IPCPR resources for market research, trade shows, products, services, publications, and participation in community, constitutional and legislative action programs. The 79th Annual Convention and International Trade Show of the IPCPR will be held July 17-21, 2011 in Las Vegas. The trade show is not open to the public.

With more than 2,000 members throughout the U.S. and 31 foreign countries, IPCPR is the leading non-profit industry organization representing retailers, manufacturers and distributors of hand-made cigars, pipes and accessories.  Stores displaying the IPCPR logo are recognized as premier purveyors of premium tobacco products.

###

 

 

 

 TOBACCONIST TOURS NEW YORK STATE, CREATES VIDEO;
PUTS ‘FACE’ ON PLIGHT OF IN-STATE CIGAR BUSINESSES

New York, NY  June 2, 2011 – For months, Ron Melendi has been bludgeoning New York State legislators and the Governor’s office with statistics that show how the state’s onerous tobacco taxes have joined with federal taxes to drive these small businesses to the brink of destruction.  Now, to put a ‘face’ to that data, he’s touring the state, creating a video documentary of professional tobacconists that he will present to lawmakers by mid-June in support of current bills that would cap the premium cigar tax at $1 per stick.

Melendi is general manager of De La Concha America, Inc. at 1390 Avenue of the Americas in New York City. He is also president of the New York Tobacconists Association and a Certified Master Tobacconist.  His family has been in the tobacco business for more than a century and he’s worrying about the next century, starting with 2011.

“I can sell a box of cigars for, say, $250 to my customer in New York, but he can go to Pennsylvania or the Internet and get that same box of cigars for $130-$150. High state and federal tobacco taxes are to blame.  These taxes aren’t making people quit smoking and they aren’t raising nearly as much tax revenue as the prohibitionists predicted; they just drive customers to other, cheaper sources. That’s when everyone loses – tobacconists, consumers and the state, alike,” he said.

Melendi is touring the state of New York, visiting tobacconists everywhere to create a documentary that he will first show to the Governor and state legislators next week before posting on his various sites such as @delaconcha and @nyta1 on Twitter, ipcpr.org, newyorktobacconist.org  or his blog at melendi.com. He hopes the documentary will help reinforce what he’s been telling government leadership for months – high taxes are killing small businesses in New York State.

“Taxes on our premium cigars jumped to 46 percent before the federal SCHIP taxes raised them more and, last year, the 46 percent tax on other tobacco products – non-cigarette, including premium cigars – skyrocketed to 75 percent. We need relief before we all go out of business,” Melendi said.

Melendi has the support of the New York Tobacconists Association, the International Premium Cigars & Pipe Retailers Association, Cigar Rights of America and Tobacconist University in his effort to get A1093 and S3410 in the state Assembly and Senate, respectively, passed during the current session.

“The previous administration raised taxes on our products so high that the state became a parasite, sucking the life blood out of us. Instead of nurturing small businesses and the increased employment and tax revenues they generate, the state put itself and our businesses at a distinct disadvantage, compared with tobacconists in surrounding states and the Internet.  We just want a level playing field, and we believe A1093 and S3410 will go a long way to doing that,” he said.

# # #

 

 

 

 Premium Cigar Association Says ‘No’ to Higher Tobacco Taxes in Louisiana

Baton Rouge, Louisiana  May 3, 2011 – Louisiana lawmakers are looking to offset a serious state budget deficit by increasing tobacco taxes again, this time by up to 50 percent or more across the board. Somebody should tell them it doesn’t work that way, says the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

The House Ways and Means Committee of the Louisiana State Legislature is considering H.B. 63, legislation that would nearly triple the excise tax on cigarettes.  The excise tax on small and large cigars as well as smokeless and pipe tobacco would be raised by up to 50 percent.

“Higher taxes on tobacco products will only drive whatever business is left into the hands of Internet, out-of-state, mail order merchants and criminals who do not pay taxes to Louisiana and do not employ Louisiana’s citizens.  They do not have the same stake in our communities that we do with our family-owned businesses and neighborhood employees,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

McCalla said that customers would obtain their cigarettes and other tobacco products in, say, Mississippi which has significantly lower tobacco taxes.

“By driving smokers to purchase their cigarettes across state lines or through untaxed or lower-tax venues such as Native American territories and the Internet, H.B. 63 will hurt local businesses and absolutely fail to raise the anticipated revenues,” he said.

The IPCPR maintains that raising excise taxes does not produce projected revenue.

“Of the 57 excise tax increases that states implemented between 2003 and 2007, only 16 met or exceeded revenue targets.  New Jersey, for example, increased its cigarette tax in 2006 and instead of gaining a projected $30 million in revenue, the state lost more than $22 million,” McCalla said.

The regressive nature of excise taxes was also cited by McCalla.

“Excise taxes disproportionately impact the poor and those living on fixed incomes according to the Congressional Budget Office which has said that cigarette excise taxes are the most regressive of all.  With millions of families and businesses in Louisiana struggling to make ends meet, lawmakers should be cutting taxes rather than raising taxes on their constituents,” he said.

McCalla urged Louisiana residents to contact their state representatives and tell them to cut wasteful, non-essential spending instead of raising taxes which won’t produce the anticipated offsetting revenues.

###

 

 

 Outdoor Smoking Ban to Blow Away Business Says Two Premium Cigar Associations

Decatur, Georgia May 2, 2011 – If DeKalb County Commissioners vote to expand its no-smoking ordinance, it will be doing its best to drive away local business, says two Georgia-based premium cigar associations.

According to the Atlanta-based Georgia Premium Retail Tobacconists Association and the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association, expanding the current smoking ban to include bars, clubs, restaurant patios and other outdoor areas would cause customers to seek other, more smoker-friendly businesses in other communities.

“No time is a good time for legislated smoking bans, but this is a particularly bad time to remove no-smoking exemptions which would jeopardize businesses throughout the county,” said Jim Luftman, president of the GPRTA. Luftman owns Blue Havana II Cigars in Alpharetta which approved an ordinance earlier this year that bans tobacco use at its six city parks and along more than six miles of greenway trails.

“If an owner of a business or property designates it as smoke-free, then that’s his or her business to do so or not, and that includes all city or county-owned property,” Luftman said. “But it’s just not right for politics and government to interfere with private ownership and the inherent rights of business owners.”

Anti-tobacco advocates say the move to smoke-free should be made to protect the health of employees.

“Customers can choose the businesses they patronize just as workers can choose where they work,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director for the IPCPR, based in Columbus, Georgia. “They don’t need government passing convoluted laws telling them where to shop or work.”

McCalla cited standards by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that set safe levels of secondhand smoke in the workplace.

“OSHA’s safe levels for secondhand smoke are up to 25,000 times higher than the air quality found in most bars and restaurants where smoking is allowed,” said McCalla, “so their arguments are fabricated to create fear and misunderstanding. Challenge what the prohibitionists say. Just because they say it doesn’t make it true. Statistics can be manipulated but the truth is the truth.”

McCalla and Luftman urged DeKalb County residents to contact their County Commissioners and tell them to vote down the proposed smoking ban extension.

# # #

 

 

Premium Cigar Association Calls Proposed Smoking Ban ‘Unnecessary’

Rockville, Maryland April 29, 2011 – A resolution to adopt a proposed Montgomery County, Maryland Board of Health smoking ban regulation will be the subject of a public hearing May 5 by the Health and Human Services Committee of the County Council . The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association has branded the proposed regulation as ‘ridiculous, unnecessary and overreaching.’

The proposed regulation would prohibit smoking in certain common areas of multiple-family residential dwellings.  A common area is defined as ‘any indoor area of a multiple-family residential dwelling which is accessible to the occupants of more than one dwelling, including a hall, lobby, or laundry room.’ The regulation would also prohibit smoking within 25 feet of a playground area near such multiple-family dwellings.

“Legislated smoking bans are an affront to freedom loving citizens everywhere. It should be left to the property owners to determine whether or not smoking would be allowed in these areas,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR, as association of some 2,000 retailers and manufacturers of premium cigars, pipes, fine tobaccos and related accoutrements.

The resolution maintains that the proposed ban “is necessary to protect the health of residents in the County.”

“Ridiculous,” said McCalla. “Secondhand smoke is hardly problematic from a health standpoint. However, people who smoke – whether it is cigarettes, fine cigars or aromatic pipes – should be courteous to others.  Courtesy and civility should prevail, not onerous legislation that some would say is unconstitutional.”

McCalla cited the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s own standard for safe levels of secondhand smoke which is up to 25,000 times higher than levels normally found in establishments like bars and restaurants where smoking is allowed.

He called on all Montgomery County residents to voice their opposition to the regulation by notifying their County Council members or by calling 240-777-7803 to sign up to testify at the hearing on Thursday at 7:30pm at 100 Maryland Avenue. 

# # #

 

 

 Tobacco Retailers Say Macon
Going  ‘Smoke Free’ Risks Jobs, Businesses


Macon, Georgia April 8, 2011 – Two Georgia-based associations of premium tobacco retailers have warned the Macon City Council that the ordinance it is considering to restrict smoking in most indoor public places would be putting local jobs and small businesses at risk for no reason.

The ordinance under consideration would ban smoking at indoor public establishments such as bars and restaurants but would allow smoking on streets or in open public areas. 

“This is no time to be putting jobs and small businesses at risk,” said Jim Luftman, president of the Atlanta-based Georgia Premium Retail Tobacconists Association. “Business owners have the right to declare whether or not smoking would be allowed on the premises just as customers have the right to patronize them or not. Legislated smoking bans take away those rights from both groups.”

The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association also warned of potential job, business and tax revenue losses from such a ban.

“No less authority than the Federal Reserve Bank, using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is on record showing that smoking bans cost jobs and hurt businesses while putting them at a disadvantage to other competing businesses in surrounding areas,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR based in Columbus, Georgia.

“When government takes away from restaurant and other business owners their right to decide how to run their businesses, it is exceeding its authority and acting unconstitutionally.  It is attacking the rights of smokers and non-smokers, alike,” he said. 

And it’s all so unnecessary, according to McCalla.

“Safe levels of secondhand smoke have been set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and they are 25,000 times safer than the air quality levels normally found in bars and restaurants that allow smoking,” he said.

According to McCalla, many of the IPCPR’s retail members sell their premium tobacco products to restaurants and bars who, in turn, sell them to their customers. 

“To ban smoking in Macon restaurants and bars will severely reduce these sales which will translate into reduced excise, sales, and income tax revenues for Macon and the state of Georgia,” he said.

McCalla and Luftman urged all Macon residents to contact their council representatives and urge them to vote against the unnecessary smoking ban.

.###

 

 

 Oregon Considers Controversial Tobacco Tax Increases

Salem, Oregon  March 30, 2011 – A flurry of tobacco tax bills with conflicting objectives is under consideration by Oregon state legislators who should say ‘no’ to any new taxes, according to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

Oregon currently taxes cigarettes at the rate of $1.18 per pack. One of the bills being considered would hike the tax by an additional $1. One of the bills also contains tax increases on other tobacco products.  For example, HB 2110 proposes to increase the excise tax on other tobacco products from 65% to 120.25% of the wholesale price, while retaining the present cigar tax cap of 50 cents.

“While the cigar tax cap remains, this increase would prove detrimental to the sale of pipe tobacco and other tobacco products.  Even the current 65 percent tax is a tremendous challenge to retail tobacconists in the state,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR. “If their goal is to raise additional tax revenues, they need to keep the rates reasonable or sales will plummet.”

HB 2385 would allow counties to impose their own excise tax on tobacco products.

McCalla said, “To potentially impose taxes on taxes on taxes would be beyond the endurance of any business owner, any consumer, any constituent in the state of Oregon or anywhere.”

Some supporters of a cigarette tax increase are said to be more interested in curbing smoking than raising additional funds, according to a report by the Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing. The report also cited one of their former members who claimed the previous tobacco tax increase contributed significantly to the closure of his stores and layoffs of his employees.

“Premium cigars and pipe tobacco are unique tobacco products that are considered more of a hobby than a habit.  If they are overtaxed, consumers will obtain them through illegal sources such as bootlegging or the Internet. Either way, the state loses revenues, retailers lose business and jobs and businesses are at stake,” McCalla pointed out.

McCalla urged Oregon voters to contact their state legislators asking them to vote against any tobacco tax increases or any legislation that would extend taxability of tobacco products beyond the state level.

###


 

 

 Illinois Considers Ease of Statewide Smoking Restrictions

Springfield, Illinois  March 29, 2011  When an across-the-board smoking ban prevents cigar enthusiasts from smoking in a cigar bar or a cigar store, what’s the next logical move? Exempt them, says the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

The Illinois House Bill 1310 would give the state’s local liquor commissions power to issue smoking licenses to establishments with liquor licenses and other businesses that qualify – e.g. cigar bars and cigar stores.

“Now here’s a piece of tobacco-related legislation that is good for the state, good for business, and good for the economy, in general,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director for the IPCPR. “The smoking ban effectively obliterated cigar bars from the state. This legislation would allow for their welcomed return.”

The bill requires that prominent postings be made in the licensed establishments advising its employees and customers that smoking was permitted on the premises.

“The IPCPR – a non-profit organization comprised of some 2,000 local cigar store retailers and manufacturers of premium cigars – has long opposed legislated smoking bans while endorsing the right of business owners to decide for themselves whether or not to allow smoking in their respective businesses.  In a way, HB1310 returns that right to at least some business owners,” McCalla said.

The bill was initially sponsored by Representatives Anthony DeLuca and Randy Ramey.  Additional sponsors include Representatives Daniel Burke, Robert Rita, and Rita Mayfield.

“The state of Illinois is in a leadership position on this issue as it joins several other states currently preparing to revise their respective smoking bans to allow issuance of licenses by their local liquor commissions which would permit smoking in such establishments,” he said.

McCalla said the IPCPR is urging all of its members, their customers and all other adult residents of Illinois to contact their state legislators and urge their support for HB 1310.

“It’s the smart thing to do,” said McCalla. “It’s good for business, good for jobs and good for the state.“

###

 

 

Hawaii Faces Fight Over Tobacco Tax Increase Proposal

Honolulu, Hawaii  March 29, 2011 – A controversial proposal to increase certain tobacco taxes in Hawaii is running headlong against individual constituent interests, says the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association.

Hawaii House Bill 273 proposes to change the excise tax on all tobacco products, other than cigarettes, from 70 percent of the wholesale price to $3.20 for each article or item of tobacco product, other than a large cigar.  A minimum tax rate of $3.20 is proposed per package of five cigars, adjusted accordingly for packages of less than or more than five and provided that no cigar with a wholesale price less than $1 shall be sold in packages of fewer than five.

“This convoluted bill is as confusing as the rationale behind it,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.  “It has been proven in other states that increased taxes on tobacco products results in lower sales of those products and, consequently, lower tax revenues from those products.”

McCalla added that higher taxes on tobacco products also results in lost jobs and damaged businesses.

“When sales plummet, salespeople are let go and, eventually, businesses fail,” McCalla said. “These are not times when we can sacrifice jobs, income and taxes instead of doing whatever we can to create new jobs, stimulate revenues and support small businesses.”

McCalla explained that those customers who remain after the tax increases go into effect likely will resort to out-of-state mail-order or bootlegged cigars. 

“The result will be a significant loss of sales and excise tax revenues to the state, job losses and the closing of businesses across the state.  Is this what Hawaii needs today?”  McCalla asked.

“Government should not be taxing out of business those businesses that have every right to exist.  What other businesses and products have survived after absorbing such exorbitant tax increases? None. There are better ways to prevent children from using non-cigarette tobacco products, ways that don’t end up destroying jobs, families and communities,” said McCalla.

###

 

 

Smoking Ban Will Only Hurt Lagging State Economy

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana  March 28, 2011 – A statewide smoking ban with key exemptions has passed the Indiana House and now awaits action in the Senate.  The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association is urging its members and their cigar loving customers to ensure that the exemptions stay in place.

Indiana House Bill 1018 exempts casinos and horse racing establishments, retail tobacco shops and bars that only admit customers over the age of 21. The exemptions include nursing homes and fraternal clubs.

Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR, cited the economic downsides of a smoking ban and that the current exemptions would help mitigate them to the benefit of the state. According to the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency, banning smoking in casinos and horse racing tracks could cost the state about $190 million a year. 

“If a smoking ban in gambling establishments could negatively impact their business, it could also hurt other adult-oriented businesses, like bars. And the pleasures of smoking shouldn’t be denied to veterans and other members of fraternal clubs as well as those Indiana constituents in nursing homes,” he said.

 Lost business means lost jobs and lost tax revenues, McCalla pointed out.

 “Even the Federal Reserve Bank, using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, has officially noted the negative business and jobs impact that such bans have on local and statewide economies,” said McCalla.

McCalla explained that legislated smoking bans are not only unnecessary, they attack the personal rights of smokers and non-smokers, alike.  It is the right of every business owner to declare their businesses smoke-free or not, he added.

 “It is not up to government to make that decision,” declared McCalla, “and customers can decide for themselves if they want to patronize a place that does or does not allow smoking on the premises.  I think people are getting fed up with government telling them what they can and cannot do,” McCalla said.

###

 

 

 Cigar Association Challenges California’s Consideration of Anti-Tobacco Legislation

Sacramento, California  March 4, 2011 – The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association is questioning the California State Senate’s consideration of proposed legislation that would ban smoking in all retail tobacco shops and other locations that have been exempted for more than a decade from the state’s current smoking bans.  

Senate Bill 575 aims to ban smoking in all retail and wholesale tobacco shops, private clubs, hotel lobbies, bars, taverns, businesses with five or fewer employees, banquet rooms, warehouse facilities, employee break rooms and other specified locations that have been exempted from the state’s Smoke-Free Workplace laws which passed more than a decade ago.

“There are many things wrong with this legislation,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR, “not the least of which is that it is contrary to the principles on which our country was founded.”

McCalla said that tobacco is a legal product and that its use should not be legislatively prohibited, especially to the extent that small businesses, jobs and tax revenues are threatened.

“We support the right of business owners to choose whether or not to permit smoking on their premises.  But when the government starts legislating behavior and infringing on their rights, it’s just plain wrong,” he said.

McCalla said that Senate Bill 575 would cost the state money, jobs and small businesses. 

“The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis has published a study based on data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Statistics that proves such bans negatively impact jobs, revenues and businesses. Many states have realized this to be true and are re-evaluating their position on such bans. In many cases, they are permitting smoking in locations such as those currently exempted from California’s indoor smoking ban,” said McCalla.

“Not only that,” he added, “but Californians and visitors to the state who enjoy an occasional good cigar with a glass of wonderful California wine will have virtually nowhere to do so if this legislation is allowed to pass.  All Californians – smokers and nonsmokers, alike – should be against this bill and stop it from being considered further.”

McCalla also said that conflicting evidence regarding the health-related effects of secondhand smoke should not be dismissed out of hand.

According to the website of the bill’s sponsor, “There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.” McCalla pointed out that the federal government disagrees  with this statement and says safe levels of secondhand smoke do exist and they are well within the air quality levels found in most bars and restaurants that permit smoking.

“That safe level of exposure has been established by none other than the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  Don’t you think if secondhand smoke in the workplace was an issue that OSHA would move in to protect the employees?” he asked.

###


 

 

 

 Illinois Lawmakers Mull Smoking in Casinos, Bars

Springfield, Illinois  March 4, 2011 –   Two current bills under consideration by the Illinois General Assembly are expected to generate increased revenues for the state.  They would allow smoking in gaming facilities and eligible businesses that have liquor licenses.  The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association favors both proposals and today urged their passage.

House Bill 171 allows smoking in designated segregated ventilated smoking rooms in licensed gaming facilities.  House Bill 1310 provides that local liquor control commissions have the power to issue smoking licenses to bars and other adult-oriented establishments that have revenues with no more than 10 percent from food sales.

“The so-called Smoke Free Illinois Act prohibited smoking in all indoor workplaces and public places including bars/taverns, restaurants, private clubs and casinos beginning January 1, 2008.  These bills back off at least somewhat from that draconian, irrational position by allowing, under certain circumstances, smoking in casinos and cigar bars and other adult places.  As we see it, this would be a return to reason and we support their passage,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

McCalla noted that the Illinois Gaming Board has confirmed that passage of HB 171 “could have a positive impact on revenues” and it is generally acknowledged that re-creation of cigar bars also will generate increased revenues for the state as well as local authorities through licensing, taxes, jobs and sales taxes.

“It’s the smart thing to do,” said McCalla. “It’s good for business, good for jobs and good for the state. “

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis has declared that the current statewide smoking ban was the primary reason that its nine casinos lost $400 million in revenues in its first year.  The study showed that the smoking ban was chiefly responsible for a 22 percent decline in revenues compared to recent years. It was also responsible for the improved or more stable performance of casinos in nearby states during the same period.  In addition, local communities also lost over $12 million in casino tax revenues.

For those concerned about secondhand smoke, don’t be, McCalla advised.  He cited the safe levels of secondhand smoke established by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“There is a falsely placed prejudice regarding secondhand smoke that never should have been allowed to fester in the first place.  Even OSHA has established safe levels of secondhand smoke and those levels are literally thousands of times higher than normally found in bars and restaurants that allow smoking.”

###

 

 

 

IPCPR Says Proposed Maryland Tobacco Tax Increase is Anti-Business

Annapolis, Maryland  March 2, 2011 – A proposed 500 percent excise tax increase on ‘other tobacco products’ could decimate Maryland’s cigar and pipe tobacco businesses, according to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

Maryland House Bill 853 and Senate Bill 654 both propose to increase the excise tax rate on tobacco products other than cigarettes from 15 percent to 90 percent with a $3 cap on cigars.

“When will legislators realize that tax increases like this never produce the revenues predicted and always result in negative consequences like lost jobs and businesses?” asked Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR. “In a small state like Maryland, tobacco customers can easily cross to another state or make their purchases online and pay little to no state or local taxes.”

According to the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan educational organization founded in 1937, Maryland was the only state to raise every major tax in 2008 in order to fund new spending programs including doubling of its cigarette tax from $1 to $2 per pack.  The Foundation said the tax increase served to introduce record levels of bootlegged product into the state, hurt local businesses by sending thousands of the state’s smokers to surrounding states to purchase their tobacco products, and generated only half the revenue increase predicted by tax supporters.  

In addition, the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 is funded solely by excise taxes on tobacco products. CHIP raised federal taxes on cigarettes to more than $10 per carton and on roll-your-own tobacco from about $1.10 per pound to $24.78 per pound – a 2,253 percent increase.

“Now the Maryland legislature is considering raising excise taxes yet again on other tobacco products from the current 15 percent of the wholesale price to 90 percent,” McCalla said.

McCalla believes the only result that would be sure to take place from such an action is the further destruction of Maryland small businesses, which includes the loss of jobs and state, federal and local tax revenues.

“Premium cigars are highly sensitive to price increases because they are more a choice than a habit.  They are adult products that make ordinary moments special and special moments extraordinary, like a fine wine,” he said.

McCalla urged Maryland smokers and nonsmokers alike to tell their state senators and delegates to vote no on tax increases such as these.

###

 

 

Tobacconists Say Utah Legislators Head for Unintended Consequences with HB0170

 

Salt Lake City, Utah  February 12, 2011 – The unintended consequences of HB0170 for professional tobacconists and their pipe-smoking adult customers is not unlike ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater,’ according to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

The original version of HB0170 prohibited the sale of any kind of flavored tobacco product. As amended, it exempts cigars, but still includes aromatic pipe tobaccos as illegal to sell or purchase in Utah.

“As we understand it, the bill is intended to keep under aged youth from purchasing smokeless and other tobacco products,” said Fred Cvar who, along with his wife, Joan, own The Tinder Box in Salt Lake City.

“We have always been against the sale of any tobacco products to anyone under the age of 19 and there are plenty of laws that already prevent that,” Cvar added. “HB0170, unfortunately, also would prevent the sale of virtually all pipe tobaccos to our mature adult customers.  Such tobaccos, cut and blended especially for use in briar and meerschaum pipes have been enjoyed in all societies around the world since the 1600s.”

“We join our Utah tobacconist members in strongly urging Utah state representatives to include such pipe tobaccos in the exemptions to this bill which, if necessary at all, should have a laser-like focus on elimination of sales of all tobacco products to under aged persons,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

The IPCPR is a non-profit organization of more than 2,000 cigar store owners and manufacturers and distributors of premium cigars and pipe tobaccos.

McCalla said most IPCPR members are owners of small, mom-and-pop operations that pay taxes and employ local people.  Elimination of adult oriented aromatic pipe tobaccos from the Utah marketplace, he said, would result in virtual elimination of pipe tobacco sales to adults which will reduce legitimate tax revenues for the state and, more importantly, result in lost jobs and failed businesses.

“The last thing Utah needs is lower tax revenues, lost jobs and closed businesses,” McCalla said.

###


 

 

WASHINGTON TOBACCONISTS LOOK TO ALLOW CIGAR, PIPE SMOKING IN STORES, LOUNGES

Olympia, Washington  February 10, 2011 – The State of Washington soon may be joining 46 other states regarding smoking ban exemptions for retail tobacco shops and 33 other states exempting cigar lounges from smoking bans, according to local and national groups supporting the exemptions.

Called the Cigar Lounge Bills, HB 1683 and SB 5542 would allow a limited number of endorsements to qualifying cigar lounges and retail tobacconist shops holding retail tobacco products licenses. The House bill is scheduled for a hearing today, Thursday, February 10 at 8:00 a.m. in House Hearing Room 8 of the John L. O’Brien Building in Olympia. The Senate companion bill is scheduled for a hearing by the Labor, Commerce & Consumer Protection Committee at 10:00 a.m. on February 17.

The bills have the support of several local and international cigar-oriented groups led by the Cigar Association of Washington (CAW).  Other groups backing the bills are the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association, the Cigar Association of America and Cigar Rights of America.  The groups are calling on Washington residents to show their support for the bills by contacting their respective state legislators.

“All Washington voters – especially premium cigar retailers, cigar smokers and non-smokers, as well – should tell their state legislators to vote for these bills because jobs and businesses are at stake as well as significant state revenues which will be generated primarily through licenses and sales tax revenues,” said Joe Arundel, owner of Rain City Cigar in Seattle and spokesperson for the CAW.

Arundel calls the bills, “small accommodations of fairness to the current draconian statewide smoking ban which prohibits smoking in public places and should not include cigar and pipe smoking in locations that are dedicated to that purpose.”

Arundel pointed out that no more than 100 cigar lounge endorsements and 500 retail tobacco shops throughout the state would qualify for the exemption in any calendar year while the license and user fees are expected to raise some $4 million of which $3.8 million will go to the Passport to College Program while the state liquor board will receive $200,000 to administer the program.

To qualify, cigar lounges and retail tobacco shops must show the liquor board they meet stringent new requirements that include the following:

  • Physically separated from other areas by solid walls or windows and have self-closing doors
  • Contain certified ventilation and exhaust systems
  • Allow cigars or pipe tobacco to be smoked in the designated areas
  • Post signs indicating cigar and pipe tobacco smoking is permitted on the premises
  • Not allow anyone underage to enter the establishment
  • Obtain signed acknowledgments from employees who understand that cigar and pipe smoking is permitted on the premises
  • Meet strict sales and inventory standards.

###

 

IPCPR Supports International Pipe Smoking Day, Feb. 20

 

 

Columbus, Georgia  February 10, 2011 -- Millions of pipe smokers around the world will be celebrating the fourth annual International Pipe Smoking Day on February 20 supported by the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association.  Pipe smokers everywhere will “raise their pipes together to foster friendship, benevolence, and tranquility across all borders,” according to the United Pipe Clubs of America.

IPSD was celebrated for the first time in 2008 when it was originated by Smokers Forums, a European Internet group. Since then, it has been supported by the Comite International des Pipe Clubs and its members in 25 countries around the world.  UPCA is the United States member of CIPC.

The UPCA website explains that, “On this day we will … celebrate the noble art of pipe-smoking and the … spirit which pervades the brotherhood and sisterhood of the briar. We will put into practice the time-honored and ancestral traditions of raising our pipes in unison to toast each other and share a bowl together.”

To celebrate the occasion, many pipe clubs and tobacconists across the United States, Europe and elsewhere are staging pipe smoking events at 9:00 p.m. locally to bring together their members and others interested in pipe smoking. In addition, events feature slow-smoking competitions.  Each contestant is given just two matches and the winner is whoever can keep a pipe going the longest. 

In addition, these and other events are being supported by the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.  The IPCPR represents more than 2,000 retail tobacconists – mostly mom-and-pop small business owners - as well as manufacturers and distributors of premium cigars, pipes, accessories and gifts. 

Attesting to a resurgence in pipe smoking among younger adults as well as older ones, pipe smoking groups have attracted thousands of members in recent years on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.

About UPCA

The United Pipe Clubs of America was organized in 2002 as a national federation of pipe clubs in the United States. Its purpose is to promote and protect the interests of the American pipe smoking community by encouraging and assisting in the formation of local pipe clubs and actively supporting their activities, including pipe shows and pipe smoking competitions. UPCA's broader goals are to bring American pipe smokers together by facilitating the sharing of information and ideas between its member clubs and to maintain smokers' enthusiasm for the hobby by presenting a positive public image of the culture and traditions of pipe smoking and collecting.

###


 

Alabama Opinion Leaders Urged to Seek Truth in Secondhand Smoke Claims

Birmingham, Alabama February 9, 2011 – The anti-tobacco forces in Alabama are gearing up to launch a well-orchestrated effort to spread their questionable claims regarding secondhand smoke, according to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association. The IPCPR says the well-funded tobacco prohibitionists are buying breakfasts, lunches and dinners for Alabama opinion leaders in Dothan, Montgomery, Gadsden, Anniston, Huntsville, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa and Mobile this month in hopes they will pressure Alabama legislators to deprive business owners of their rights to decide for themselves whether or not to allow smoking in their establishments.

“Legislated smoking bans, for whatever reason, are unnecessary and inexcusable. They deprive business owners their right to make such determinations on their own.  Beyond that, however, the anti-tobacco forces attempt to falsely justify their claims based on bad science, overreaching conclusions and ridiculous assumptions,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR, an association of some 2,000 tobacconists and related small business owners.

McCalla cited several examples of such misstatements expected to be raised at the various meal events.

“The United States Surgeon General’s office claims that ‘even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can cause cardiovascular disease…’ and ‘inhaling even the smallest amount of tobacco smoke can also damage your DNA, which can lead to cancer.’ These statements are simply not true and there is certainly no evidence to support them,” said McCalla.

McCalla also cited claims made by the University of Kentucky that “even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can trigger a heart attack….” and that “non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke for just 30 minutes experience hardening of the arteries,” as claimed by the Florida Department of Health.

“Those are outright lies,” he said. “If those or any other points are brought up by the anti-tobacco people, do not accept them outright without seeing the evidence on which the statements are based. For too long, the general public has been duped by wild accusations which, made often enough, are accepted without challenge.”

McCalla added, “Business suffers and jobs are lost under legislated smoking bans.  That was proven by the Federal Reserve Bank based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Also, safe levels of secondhand smoke have been set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and they are 25,000 safer than actual air quality levels normally found in bars and restaurants that allow smoking.”

###


Rights, Jobs, Businesses, Taxes at Stake with Proposed Indiana Smoking Ban

 

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana  January 24, 2011 – A proposed statewide smoking ban in Indiana is filled with unintended consequences that will negatively impact the rights of business owners and their customers, and losses of jobs, businesses and state and local taxes, says the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

The Indiana House committee voted to endorse HB 1018 which prohibits smoking in public places and indoor work sites excluding casinos, horse tracks and other gambling facilities and tobacco stores. The bill now goes to the full House for review before being taken up by the State Senate where previous smoking ban attempts have failed in the past.

“We certainly appreciate the fact that the bill exempts our members’ cigar stores, but, in all fairness, it would still take away the rights of Indiana citizens and business owners. In addition, it will result in lost business, lost jobs and lost tax revenues across the state.  Is this the time to be passing unnecessary legislation that hurts our economy?” asked Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

McCalla noted that the current exemptions were included because a nonpartisan fiscal impact statement estimated the ban would cut state gambling tax revenues by up to $200 million annually.

“And that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said McCalla. “Even the Federal Reserve Bank has officially noted the negative business and jobs impact that such bans have on local and statewide economies.”

McCalla explained that legislated smoking bans are not only unnecessary, they attack the personal rights of smokers and non-smokers, alike.  It is the right of every business owner to declare their businesses smoke-free or not, he added.

 “It is not up to government to make that decision,” declared McCalla, “and customers can decide for themselves if they want to patronize a place that does or does not allow smoking on the premises.  I think people are getting fed up with government telling them what they can and cannot do,” McCalla said.

In response to Brown’s claims that smoking bans do not hurt revenue at bars and restaurants, McCalla cited the Federal Reserve Bank in St. Louis regarding the proven negative effects on businesses from legislated smoking bans.

“The Fed has found that, based on impartial data generated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, significant employment declines result from forced smoking bans, especially in bars and restaurants due to lost revenues,” he said.

###

Nebraska Poll on Tobacco Taxes Called ‘Phony’ by Cigar Association

Lincoln, Nebraska  January 21, 2011 – The results of a poll of 500 Nebraskans are being touted by anti-smoking forces as justification for tobacco tax  increases statewide but the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association is touting those results as ‘phony.’

The poll was paid for by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, an $8.4 billion organization that gets its funds from Johnson & Johnson which makes the leading brand of anti-smoking medication.   Released last week, the poll was conducted by a coalition of anti-smoking organizations.  It says 73 percent of the Nebraska voters surveyed favor raising the tax on cigarettes by $1.35 per pack of cigarettes. The current Nebraska tax on cigarettes is 64 cents per pack. The coalition is urging the Nebraska legislature to increase tobacco taxes across the board.

“The conclusions drawn from the poll results are phony for many reasons,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR. “First of all, the poll’s funding source has a vested interest in forcing people to give up the pleasure of smoking which will result from higher tobacco taxes,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.  “Second, they are saying that 365 people should dictate higher taxes on those tobacco products by the citizens of Nebraska. Ridiculous!”

McCalla said the questions in the poll were skewed to lead the participants to reach the conclusions that the coalition and funding source wanted in the first place.

“Any increase in tobacco taxes will cause sales to fall which will result in lost jobs, lost businesses and lost tax revenues, not increased revenues as the coalition claims. That’s not only common sense, it is a mathematical certainty,” he said. “You can’t have it both ways.  For example, federal tobacco taxes currently fund children’s health programs and any decrease in those tax revenues would cause a shortfall in funding those programs.”

McCalla added that the IPCPR is an association of independent cigar store owners and manufacturers, most of whom are small, mom-and-pop tobacconists who primarily sell premium cigars, pipes and tobacco.

“The coalition is pulling numbers out of a hat when they claim that a tax increase would prevent more children from smoking and save on so-called tobacco-related health care and smoking-caused deaths.  They make statements that simply cannot be proven. But, by saying them often enough, many people tend to believe what they say although there are no facts to support their claims,” McCalla said.

###

IPCPR Urges Courtesy, Not Ban, in Raleigh, NC Parks

 

Raleigh, North Carolina  January 18, 2011 – The Raleigh, North Carolina City Council is considering a ban on smoking in parks or greenways owned or operated by the city but the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association says it has a better idea – post courtesy messages, instead. The matter is expected to come up for a vote at tonight’s meeting.

“There are so many things wrong with legislated smoking bans,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.  “Such bans result in job losses, losses in revenue to local, state and federal coffers, and loss of constitutional rights given to citizens by the state and federal governments.  Worst of all, claims regarding the alleged negative effects of secondhand smoke – especially in wide open spaces like parks – are more than inaccurate, they are downright misleading.”

McCalla says there is no need to ban smoking in such outdoors areas and, even if it were enacted, there would be virtually no practical way to enforce it. 

“The oh-so-brief encounters of random whiffs of smoke will not harm anyone.  After all, even the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the United States Department of Labor has established safe levels of secondhand smoke.  Some people just don’t like the smell of smoke, but there’s no reason that the rights of smokers should be trumped by a few non-smokers.  Besides, a good cigar or pipe usually emits quite an enjoyable odor.”

Some have argued that children are apt to pick up cigarette or cigar butts and put them in their mouths.

“I don’t believe that is a real concern as opposed to a manufactured one.  And, even if it were real, there are littering laws that, if enforced, would eliminate that alleged problem,” McCalla said.

McCalla asked, “What if someone complained about the odor of cheap perfume or wet dogs?  What if someone complained about seriously obese people taking up more than their share of seating space in the shelters and on buses?

“Imposing a smoking ban in public parks is just one more step on a slippery slope that could lead to even more ridiculous conclusions,” he said.

Instead, McCalla believes posting signs urging smokers to display courtesy to non-smokers with whom they share bus shelters is the civil way to manage the situation.

“This way, everybody wins.”

###

 

Kentucky Proposed Smoking Ban Bill Going Nowhere

Frankfort, Kentucky January 12, 2011 – When lawmakers don’t want to deal with tough issues like jobs creation and balanced budgets, they turn to proposing things like smoking bans and, in the process, continue to proliferate false information and misunderstandings regarding the economic and health-related impacts of such legislation, according to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

A bill has been introduced in the Kentucky state legislature by Rep. Susan Westrom of Lexington seeking to impose a no-exception smoking ban in all indoor workplaces and public places, including bars and restaurants.  Westrom admits the bill will go nowhere in this year’s legislature but has proposed it, nonetheless.  Currently, in Kentucky, state laws prohibit smoking in government offices, universities, and the state capitol, except in designated smoking areas.

“Kentucky unemployment is nearly 11 percent, yet some legislators seem to be more interested in creating job-killing bills like smoking bans which take away property owners’ constitutional rights to determine for themselves if smoking should be allowed in their places of business,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR, an association of some 2,000 neighborhood mom-and-pop premium cigar retailers, manufacturers and distributors.

Some $300,000 of federal stimulus money has been used to finance anti-smoking efforts in Kentucky instead of job creation, according to Jim Waters, vice president of policy and communications for the Bluegrass Institute, an independent free-market think tank.

Waters also has reported that “the ‘science’ behind the economic effect of a smoking ban is questionable at best and dishonest at worst,” according to Ken Moellman, a spokesman for Northern Kentucky Choice.

“The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis has shown that government-imposed smoking bans exact a negative economic impact on businesses frequented by smokers,” wrote Waters in a July post. (http://www.bipps.org/article.php/2378)

Regarding the health implications related to secondhand smoke, McCalla cited a post by Dr. Michael Siegel, an anti-smoking advocate and professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at Boston University’s School of Public Health.  Despite his stance against smoking, generally, Dr. Siegel has been highly critical of many claims about secondhand smoke, including those made by the Kentucky Center for Smoke-Free Policy at the University of Kentucky College of Nursing.

According to Dr. Siegel, the statements he called “outright lies” include the following: “Even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can trigger a heart attack … (and) after two hours of secondhand smoke exposure, the heart rate speeds up and leads to abnormal heart rhythms (which can lead to death).”

Dr. Siegel also wrote that no evidence exists to support claims by the current Surgeon General that even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can cause (a) heart attack and that inhaling even the smallest amount of tobacco smoke can … lead to cancer. (http://tobaccoanalysis.blogspot.com/2010/12/finalists-for-2010-lie-of-year-award.html)

###

 

 

 

Surgeon General’s Report Called ‘Unscientific’ and Potentially Unethical

Columbus, Georgia  December 15, 2010 – A renowned member of the Boston University School of Public Health and members of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association are challenging as unscientific and potentially unethical this week’s report from the Office of Dr. Regina Benjamin, the U.S. Surgeon General, about the effects of tobacco smoke.

The report said that even brief exposure to secondhand smoke – as from one cigarette - can cause cardiovascular disease, trigger acute cardiac events and can damage one’s DNA and lead to cancer. These and other parts of the report are being challenged by the IPCPR which is comprised of some 2,000 members who are primarily small family businesses that operate neighborhood cigar stores or manufacture premium cigars, pipes, tobacco and related accoutrements.

“The mixed signals and misinformation coming from Dr. Benjamin’s office lead one to question everything they say and do,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

McCalla cited the fact that one of the first actions of President Barack Obama’s administration was to push through draconian increases in tobacco taxes to fund an expanded children’s healthcare program.  Then the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was passed, giving new powers to the Federal Drug Administration to reduce smoking in the United States.  Now, the Surgeon General is saying, in effect, that walking past a smoker on the street could cause a person to develop cardiovascular disease and cancer.

“It is simply untrue to assert that brief exposure to secondhand smoke can cause such results,” added Prof. Michael Siegel of Boston University’s School of Public Health. “If there is no safe level of exposure to any carcinogen, that would include exposure to automobile exhaust, the sun’s rays, benzene, radon in homes, arsenic in drinking water and many other everyday items.”

Prof. Siegel, who is not associated with the tobacco industry or IPCPR,  also said those statements are untrue and that nothing in the actual report supports those assertions.

“There is nothing in the report itself which … supports the assertions that a brief exposure to secondhand smoke can cause cardiovascular disease or cancer.  These assertions … have been manufactured to create a sense of public hysteria, but they are unsupported by any science whatsoever,” he wrote in his blog at www.tobaccoanalysis.blogspot.com on Dec. 13, 2010. “This is the second time that the Office of the Surgeon General has misrepresented and distorted the science of … secondhand smoke.  The press release which accompanied the Surgeon General’s 2006 report on secondhand smoke made the same false assertion,” he said.

McCalla also cited the fact that, prior to her nomination as U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Benjamin served as a trustee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation which contributes tens of millions of dollars every year to promote smoking bans and fund anti-tobacco groups in the United States and internationally.

“Why is this a potential conflict of interest? Because the foundation’s sister organization is Johnson & Johnson, maker of Nicorette, a nicotine replacement product,” he said.

###


 

Tobacco Misinformation Runs Amok in San Jose

San Jose, California Nov. 23, 2010 – Misinformation is running amok in defense of San Jose, California’s consideration of a licensing program and limited public view of tobacco products, says the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

“It’s been written in justification of these onerous measures that ‘tobacco related diseases’ are the number one cause of preventable death in the United States,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR, an association of more than 2,000 retailers and manufacturers of premium cigars, tobaccos and related accessories. “First of all, there’s no such thing as a strictly ‘tobacco related disease.’  Secondly, obesity is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., not tobacco, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

McCalla said that claims made by the San Jose city staff that a licensing program for tobacco products and hiding all tobacco products from public view would help prevent underage smoking are “beyond reason.”

“Think about it. The way to prevent underage smoking is to enforce the laws already on the books.  If it costs too much to enforce the existing laws, raise the penalties high enough to pay for enforcement.   The only thing these two measures would do is put a lot of good, law-abiding people out of business – small business owners who sell premium cigars almost exclusively,” he said.

“The vast majority of our members own cigar stores, small businesses that cater to adults only.  We welcome law enforcement and inspectors to visit our members’ establishments as often as they like.  Our members have strict policies against selling tobacco products of any kind to minors. Whereas convenience stores often derive only 20 percent of their overall sales from tobacco products, most of our members’ shops depend on tobacco products – like premium cigars – for some 90 percent of their revenues.

“And to force us to not display our tobacco products would have a devastating effect on our business. It would be like an automobile dealership not able to display its cars,” McCalla explained.

In a letter to city officials, McCalla urged that the proposals be dropped entirely. Failing that, he urged an alternate plan that would exempt certain businesses from the licensing provision and force certain other businesses that sell tobacco products to be age-restricted.

“Exemptions to any such city licensing or prevention of product display should be made for any business holding a state tobacco excise tax permit and whose business derives at least 75 percent of its revenues from the sale of tobacco products.  Also, the ordinance should include that such establishments should be for adults only,” he said.

McCalla indicated that other states and local jurisdictions have passed similar legislation.  He cited the District of Columbia as having approved such provisions to its self-service display ban ordinance.

“Law abiding adults who enjoy the pleasures and socialization of premium cigars and pipes should not be prevented from doing so.  Ours are unique businesses that need reasonable parameters so they may continue operating their shops according to their individual business plans and models,” he said.

###

 

IPCPR TOBACCONISTS COMPLETE CRT CERTIFICATION

October 27, 2010 Columbus, Georgia – Twenty-five tobacconists nationwide have earned the designation of Certified Retail Tobacconist from Tobacconist University, the official curriculum resource of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

The group includes the following:

  • Jorge Luis Valdez of Sabor Havana Cigars in Doral, Florida
  • Alex Diaz, Greg Hernke, Neal Thompson, K. Allen Byrd, Perry Lowe and Jeff Borysiewicz of Corona Cigar Company in Orlando, Florida
  • Douglas Fiore and Rose Ann Edmiston of Winston’s Humidor in Midlothian, Virginia
  • Phillip Ledbetter of Up Down Cigar in Chicago, Illinois
  • Alex B. Mayer of Wooden Indian Tobacco Shop in Havertown, Pennsylvania
  • Russell Salvatore of A Little Taste of Cuba in New Hope, Pennsylvania
  • Ronald Alred of Mojito Cigar Lounge in Cave Creek, Arizona
  • Michael McCarthy of MJM Fine Cigars & Tobacco in Palm Harbor, Florida
  • Luis Roberto Molina of Habana Port Cigar Merchants in Covington, Louisiana
  • Therina Himes of Custom Blends in Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania
  • David Kleehamer and Robert A. Roth of Nice Ash Cigars & Lounge in Depew, New York
  • Zack Photakis of Owl Shop Tobacconists in Worcester, Massachusetts
  • Cindy Pinkerton of Snow Mountain Smoke Shop in Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Robert E. Wood of the Las Vegas Paiute Smoke Shop in Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Jetmira Kaziu of Cigar Masters in Boston, Massachusetts
  • Wayne Young of Chesapeake Cigar Company in Edgewater, Maryland
  • Danny Ditkowich of Tobacco Plaza, Ltd. In Great Neck, New York and
  • Erich Orris of Tinder Box 420 in Rapid City, South Dakota

These tobacconists are among some 500 selected professional tobacconists nationwide who have been awarded CRT recognition after participating in an academic curriculum and testing process that enables them to achieve superior technical and marketing knowledge about premium cigars, pipes, premium tobacco and related accessories.

ABOUT TOBACCONIST UNIVERSITY
Tobacconist University is an independent teaching and research organization dedicated to preserving the traditions and enhancing the knowledge and skills of retailers and consumers who appreciate luxury tobacco and adhere to a high code of industry ethics and standards. More information at www.tobacconistuniversity.org

ABOUT IPCPR
The IPCPR is an association principally comprised of more than 2,000 owners and employees of small, family-owned cigar stores and businesses primarily engaged in the manufacturing, sales, marketing and distribution of premium cigars, pipes, loose tobacco and related items. More information at www.ipcpr.org

###

Don’t Believe Everything You Read, Cigar Association Warns Pelham Mayor

Pelham, Alabama  October 19, 2010 – The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association strongly suggests that Pelham Mayor Don Murphy and the Alabaster City Council change their reading habits to include factually balanced materials when it comes to smoking bans and secondhand smoke.

That position was taken by the IPCPR when Mayor Murphy, who announced this week he is considering a citywide ban on smoking in public places, was quoted as saying “Everything I am reading (is) about how bad secondhand smoke is for everyone.” At the same time, down the road, the Alabaster City Council is holding public hearings on a public smoking ban in its city.

“These people are either out of touch with reality or they are limited their reading to the extremely biased and falsely slanted materials provided by prohibitionists,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR, an association of some 2,000 tobacconists, largely small businesses engaged in the manufacturing and retailing of premium cigars, pipes, tobacco and related accoutrements.

McCalla said no studies exist that support the prohibitionists’ wild claims that secondhand smoke represents any health risks indoors, let alone outdoors.

“Sometimes lawmakers feel obliged to give the appearance that they are doing something to justify their existence when all they are doing is wasting everyone’s time on silly matters like this,” said McCalla.

 “Surveys show that legislated smoking bans ruin more businesses than they help,” he said.  “That’s why we are against any form of legislated smoking bans and urge civility and courtesy between smokers and non-smokers.  This is nothing but ‘control creep,’ where prohibitionists grab a piece at a time at our rights to run our own lives.”

McCalla cited regulations of OSHA – the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor – that declared safe levels of secondhand smoke to be up to 25,000 times safer than air quality found in the average bar or restaurant.

“Many restaurant and bar owner already declare their premises as non-smoking and that’s just fine,” McCalla said. “However, when their rights as property owners are usurped by petty legislation that is based on false information, it’s just not the way things should be.  Whether you are a smoker or not, you should be against legislated smoking bans because the deprivation of this basic, inherent right is the first step down the slippery slope of loss of rights in other areas of our lives.”

###



Cigar Association Condemns Cambridge Council for Proposed Smoking Ban Extension

Cambridge, Massachusetts  October 13, 2010 – Like lemmings leaping into the sea, the Cambridge, Massachusetts City Council is following New York City’s attempt to extend the statewide indoor smoking ban and include the city’s public spaces, including parks.

Cambridge City Councilor Marjorie Decker proposed the ban extension last week and a policy order was passed by the council.  City Manager Bob Healy is exploring the ban’s feasibility with the Cambridge Public Health Department before the ban extension is actually voted on.

“Ridiculous,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.  “This is just another twisted attempt by lazy lawmakers to control people with unnecessary legislation based on unsubstantiated assumptions.”

McCalla said no studies exist that prove secondhand smoke represents any health risks indoors, let alone outdoors.  He added that laws against littering already exist and should be enforced “without wasting any more time on silly matters like this.  Jobs are at stake, businesses are at risk and for what?  Because legislators don’t listen to the people and they don’t want to confront real issues like job creation and proper budget management,” he added.

The IPCPR represents some 2,000 retailers and manufacturers of premium cigars, pipes, tobacco and related accoutrements.  For the most part, they are small, family businesses, passed on from generation to generation.  They are neighborhood businesses that employ neighborhood residents and family members serving neighborhood customers who enjoy a good cigar or bowlful of pipe tobacco every now and then.

“Surveys show that legislated smoking bans ruin more businesses than they help,” he said.  “That’s why we are against any form of legislated smoking bans and urge civility and courtesy between smokers and non-smokers.  This is nothing but ‘control creep,’ where prohibitionists grab a piece at a time at our rights to run our own lives.”

McCalla said it was a non-argument to indicate that because some other cities in the United States have legislated such smoking bans, Cambridge and New York City should do the same.

“There’s no leadership in following the wrong moves of others,” McCalla said. “They throw numbers around like they are meaningful statistics as a means to justify their ends.  Those so-called statistics are fictional estimates made of lies from whole cloth by people and organizations who have everything to gain from such bans, primarily financial gains.  Healy is doing what he has to do, but Decker and Sam Lipson, director of environmental health, are way off base with this one. “

###

Two Tobacconist Associations Join to Fight Proposed Smoking Ban Extension

New York, New York  October 11, 2010 – The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association is joining forces with the New York Tobacconist Association to fight for the rights of New York City citizens in opposition to the proposed expansion of smoking restrictions to the city’s parks and beaches and other public outdoor locations, including Times Square. 

The associations represent thousands of small, family-owned retail businesses specializing in the sale of premium cigars, pipes, tobacco and related accoutrements.

The New York Tobacconist Association is circulating a petition which states that the undersigned are opposed to such an extension, that such decisions should be left to individuals, and that they pledge to be courteous in the use of tobacco products in those public areas. (http://bit.ly/9sIVfT)

The Association is also inviting supporters to attend the Council’s hearing on the matter Thursday, October 14 at 1:00 p.m. (http://bit.ly/beT6Sz).

 “We’re against legislated smoking bans of any kind,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director for the IPCPR, “and so should everyone else, because they take away fundamental rights of citizens everywhere.  In public places like these, common courtesy should prevail, not heavy-handed, misguided legislation.”

###


 


Can't find your article?  Click here for the news archive.