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 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 McCalla.  

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.

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Premium Cigar Retailers Call on Federal Legislators

Washington, D.C.  September 24, 2010 – Nearly two dozen members and representatives of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association based in Columbus, Georgia are making a difference in Washington, D.C. – literally.

The group recently called on their U.S. representatives and senators in Washington, D.C.  to make sure they understand that premium cigars and pipe tobacco are different from all other tobacco products. 

They explained to their congressional representatives that premium cigars comprise only around three percent of all cigars sold, less than one-half of one percent of the overall tobacco market, and that premium cigars are different from machine-made cigars and cigarettes.  As a result, premium cigars should be classified separately from other tobacco products when taxation considerations are being made and as the Federal Drug Administration is reviewing its role in controlling tobacco products as part of the recently enacted Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

“What we’re doing is important to all premium cigars retailers, manufacturers and our customers because our businesses are at stake as is our industry whenever tobacco tax increases and control measures are considered at the federal and state levels,” said Gary Pesh, president of the IPCPR board of directors. “Ours is a strictly adult product, not inhaled and smoked in moderation not as a habit but more as a hobby.”

The IPCPR represents some 2,000 premium cigar stores throughout the United States and manufacturers which, for the most part, are family-owned, small businesses that have been around for generations.


CAPTION --  Calling on Congress are IPCPR members and representatives (left to right – first row) Gary Pesh of Old Virginia Tobacco Company in Woodbridge, VA; Rene Gerard of Piper’s Haven in Lafayette, LA; Jim Clark of Straus Tobacconist in Cincinnati, OH; Gordon Smith of Edward’s Pipe & Tobacco Shop in Tampa, FL; Chris McCalla, legislative director of IPCPR in Columbus, GA; Gary Kolesaire of The Tobacco Shop in Ridgewood, NJ; David Berkebile of Georgetown Tobacco in Washington, DC; (second row) Tracy Jones of Truly Cigars in Marietta, GA; Jeff Steinbock of Uhle’s Pipe Shop in Milwaukee, WI; Rick Hopkins of Ye Olde Pipe & Tobacco in Phoenix, AZ; Andrea Pingel, area sales manager for Davidoff; Rick Payne of Havana Dreamin’ in Montgomery, AL; Jim Luftman of Blue Havana II Cigars & Gifts in Alpharetta, GA; Gerry Roerty of General Cigar; Jeff Borysiewicz of Corona Cigar Co. in Orlando, FL; and Ken Neumann of Cigars & More in Libertyville, IL. 

Not pictured are Gregory Zimmerman of The Tobacco Company in Lemoyne, PA; Jeff Packer of The Tinder Box in Tacoma, WA; and Mike Copperman of Bethesda Tobacco in Bethesda, MD.

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Tobacconists Association Warns Bloomberg – Again - About Extending Smoking Ban

New York, New York  September 20, 2010 – The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association today warned Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg – again – about his desire to extend New York City’s smoking ban to include the city’s parks and beaches. The IPCPR first blew the whistle on the mayor’s intentions back in July, 2010 when it issued its first news release on the subject.

Actually, Dr. Thomas A. Farley, New York City’s health commissioner, proposed the broad-reaching ban in 2009.  At the time the mayor said he would consider it.  Now, the proposal has his full support, has been introduced to the city council and, if passed, would affect more than 1,700 parks, playground and recreational facilities, in addition to the city’s seven beaches and 14 miles of shoreline. 

“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.”

According to published articles, one of the reasons the mayor is quoted as supporting the proposal is “because people take their cigarette butts and the packages and just throw them away.”

“There already are littering laws that take care of that concern.  Enforce the laws already on the books before you create meaningless and damaging new ones,” McCalla said.

The IPCPR is comprised of some 2,000 members, including owners of retail cigar stores and manufacturers and distributors of premium cigars and related accoutrements.

“Our members are small businesses, mostly mom-and-pop operations that employ thousands of people.  We pay local, state, federal and payroll taxes.  Our customers enjoy premium cigars like most people enjoy fine wine. The more you limit the places they can enjoy a good cigar, the quicker you put us out of business and eliminate all those jobs and the taxes they generate,” McCalla said.

McCalla cited a Federal Reserve study that showed how smoking bans have proven to be economic dampeners.

“An Illinois smoking ban in casinos saw a decline in casino revenues of 21 percent while neighboring state casinos  – all without smoking bans – had revenues stay flat or make slight gains even during a slowing economy,” he said.

“The myths surrounding secondhand smoke – especially in an outdoor environment - have played on the ignorance and gullibility of the public.  Even the Surgeon General’s report says the health effects of secondhand smoke are inconclusive.  And that was indoors” he said, “where OSHA – the Occupational Safety and Health Administration - has set safe levels of secondhand smoke at up to 25,000 times that which is found in the average bar or restaurant! “

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The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association responds to an article in The Louisville Courier-Journal,  published August 19, 2010 and written by Bryant Stamford under the headline: The Body Shop/Cigars safer? That’s just blowing smoke.

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By Chris McCalla, Legislative Director
International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association
Columbus, Georgia

August 26, 2010

If you believe what Bryant Stamford writes in his Aug. 19, 2010 column headlined “Cigars Safer? That’s Just Blowing Smoke”, you believe that smoking a cigar is about as evil a thing you can do to yourself with your clothes on.

When it comes to cigar smoking, Stamford is obviously biased and uninformed.  In addition to tobacco, he probably avoids cheeseburgers, barbeque, candy, soda, alcohol, cell phones, automobiles, and other things that most normal people use or enjoy in moderation. 

A cursory review of some of the articles he’s written for the Courier-Journal reveals what one finds in his piece about cigar smoking: his conclusions are often based on junk science, popular myths, and are frequently one-sided.

Let’s look at the facts.

No self respecting cigar or pipe smoker inhales.  It’s all about taste and aroma.  Add to that the camaraderie of fellow cigar and pipe smokers and a beer or dram or two of single malt scotch, perhaps, and you have the makings of a lovely, stress-free afternoon or evening.

It is important to emphasize here that even critical, scientific articles about the health effects of cigars admit that smoking cigars, pipes or cigarettes in moderation is not harmful.  Read the New England Journal of Medicine, June 10, 1999; 340:1773-80, and “Cigars and Public Health”, New England Journal of Medicine, 1999; 340 1829-31.

Cigar and pipe smoking, unlike cigarette smoking, is like a hobby, not a habit.  All things in moderation. On the other hand, many famous men – Churchill, H.L. Mencken, George Burns, Milton Berle, Groucho Marx, Sigmund Freud, Mark Twain and others – smoked ten to twenty cigars a day and they all lived into their 80s or beyond. Even the definition of ‘moderation’ can be relative.

And for those who believe secondhand smoke of any kind is bad for you, we would urge that you review the regulations issued by OSHA – the federal government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the Department of Labor – which set safe standards for secondhand smoke at levels up to 25,000 times higher than are found in normal restaurants and bars.

No such thing as safe levels of secondhand smoke?  OSHA says otherwise. There’s another myth busted.

 We could go on, but you get the point.  Stamford has an agenda but won’t admit it.  We, for that matter, also have an agenda but we readily admit it.  Our agenda is this:

  1. If you are an adult and you are going to smoke, smoke premium cigars or pipes and smoke them in moderation. 
  2. Smoke responsibly: if it bothers people around you, back off and be courteous. 
  3. Enjoy premium cigars with friends as a mutual hobby, a way to relax and compose yourself during or after a difficult day. 
  4. Celebrate with a premium cigar as you might with champagne or a fine wine.  Smoking a good cigar makes ordinary moments special and special moments extraordinary.
  5. Smoking cigars or pipes can be as good – or bad – for you as many other things we eat or otherwise use or consume.

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Blue Havana II Cigar Store Anniversary Event Benefits FOS11

Alpharetta, Georgia   August 25, 2010 -- Blue Havana II Cigars and Gifts of 6320 Atlanta Hwy in Alpharetta, Georgia will celebrate its fourth anniversary on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010 with a special event from 12 noon until 8 pm to raise funds for Families of September 11, Inc. (FOS11). 

The event will include an appearance by Nestor Miranda, founder of Miami Cigar Co., who will be offering a special pre-release of Guillermo Leon and Art Deco cigars.

Jim Luftman, owner of Blue Havana II, will be offering 9/11 wristbands (Remember – Honor – Hope) for suggested donations of at least $2 each.  Hourly raffles will be held to win a variety of prizes.  One raffle ticket will be given for each $20 in purchases and with donations to FOS11.  Ticket holders do not have to be present to win.  In addition, Luftman will be donating $20 from the sale of each box of cigars during anniversary event.

Special guest Nestor Miranda, founder of Miami Cigar Company, will be presenting a pre-release of his new cigars: the Guillermo Leon and Art Deco, as well as offering special deals on the entire line of La Aurora, Nestor Miranda and Tatiana cigars.

With food catered by ‘Cue Barbecue of Milton, Georgia, admission to the event is $10 and includes lunch, a cigar and raffle ticket.  

About FOS11

Families of September 11, Inc. is a nonprofit organization founded in October, 2001 by families of those who died in the September 11 terrorist attacks. The group has two goals: (1) To support families and children by offering updated information on issues of interest, access to resources, relevant articles, and advocacy to raise awareness about the effects of terrorism and public trauma and (2) to champion domestic and international policies that respond to the threat of terrorism including support for the 9/11 Commission Recommendations, and to reach out to victims of terror worldwide.

About Blue Havana II

Blue Havana II Cigars & Gifts is considered to be the premier destination for cigar aficionados in the Alpharetta, Milton and South Forsyth County area. The store’s 250 sq ft humidor is stocked with a large selection of premium cigars and high quality accessories for the cigar smoker and includes a comfortable cigar lounge offering free wireless Internet access, two high definition satellite television sets, a game table and a small conference room for use by customers.

 Blue Havana II Cigars & Gifts is located in the Village at Crooked Creek (1/2 mi S of McFarland Pkwy), 6320 Atlanta Highway Suite 8, Alpharetta.  Call 678-867-2886 or see www.bluehavana2.com for more information.

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Contact:               Jim Luftman
                                678-867-2886


Bastions of Camaraderie, Other Businesses Threatened by Smoking Ban, Says Cigar Association

Savannah, Georgia  August 19, 2010 – Today’s sanctuary for and one of the last bastions of camaraderie, friendship and sociability – the corner cigar store – could become history along with many other businesses in Savannah if City Council has its way, says the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

The current proposal would eliminate exemptions in the Georgia state law by making all workplaces smoke-free.  This includes all indoor and outdoor areas of bars, restaurants, private clubs and other businesses, including cigar stores and within 20 feet from the entrance to any such workplace.

The IPCPR, not considered ‘big tobacco’, is comprised of more than 2,000 retailers, manufacturers and distributors of premium cigars, tobacco and related accoutrements. The group is standing up for small, family-owned businesses whose right it is to determine for themselves whether or not to allow smoking on their premises. Three of Savannah’s premium cigar shops are IPCPR members.

“We’re not against all smoking bans. We are against legislated smoking bans,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR. “Many restaurants, bars and other places of business have already declared themselves as ‘no smoking’ venues. That’s their right under the constitution. It’s when the government – local, state or federal – starts telling private citizens how to run their businesses that we have a problem.”

McCalla says that the fear of secondhand smoke has been blown out of proportion to reality. Nonetheless, that misplaced fear is what appears to be spinning the issue in favor of the anti-smoking forces, he maintains.

“I’ve read Savannah newspaper articles that are supposed to be writing unbiased articles about the issue saying unattributed things like there are ‘countless studies that show secondhand smoke is dangerous’ and ‘statistics (prove) the lethality of secondhand smoke’ and ‘restaurant servers must wade through smoke to deliver food to patrons.’  Ridiculous!” he said.

“For every such study – many of which are based on bad science if you look at them objectively – there are others that contradict them.  And the alleged statistics are mostly fiction, to say the least, concocted out of whole cloth.  It’s when you get specific with such broadly biased arguments that their absurdity becomes obvious.  Fortunately, most of the online reader comments about such articles are against the proposed ban extension,” he said.

McCalla urged City Council members to look at the facts as established by no less than the federal government’s  Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the Department of Labor – OSHA - which has set safe level standards for secondhand smoke that are up to 25,000 times higher than are normally found in bars and restaurants. 

“Those OSHA standards are based primarily on studies by the American Cancer Society which have proven in conducting air quality testing of secondhand smoke that it absolutely does not constitute a health hazard justifying widespread legislated smoking bans,” he said.

McCalla complimented those City Council members who are thoughtfully considering all facets of the issue and said he hoped they would see the wisdom in a decision against expanding the state ban in Savannah.  He reminded the council  that many cities are reversing or reconsidering their earlier decisions to legislate smoking bans because of the negative impact those bans have had on local businesses.

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Corona Cigar Co. Displays World’s Biggest Cigar to Counter Crotty’s Smoking Ban

Orlando, Florida  August 16, 2010 – As an expression of public defiance to Orange County Mayor Richard T. Crotty’s executive order prohibiting tobacco use by anyone in any workplace or public area on or in county property, the world’s largest cigar has gone on display at Corona Cigar Co.’s store at 7792 W. Sand Lake Rd. in Orlando, Florida. 

Store owner Jeff Borysiewicz brought the mammoth tobacco product from New Orleans where it was on display during the 78th Annual Convention and International Trade Show of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.  Borysiewicz is a member of the IPCPR Board of Directors.

The smokable, long-filler  Corojo #5 Gran Robusto El Gigante cigar was made in the Danli, Honduras factory of the Gran Habano Cigar Company.  It is 19 feet long, three feet in diameter, weighs 1,600 pounds (2,500 pounds, including the case) and includes 16,000 wrapper leaves.  The cigar took 20 workers 20 days to make and has a retail value of $200,000. It will be on display through August 29th.


Borysiewicz has been campaigning against Mayor Crotty’s outdoor smoking ban because he believes it is unconstitutional, keeps tens of millions of dollars from flowing into the local economy and threatens the jobs of thousands of county workers. County workers are forced to sign a “tobacco free” affidavit and are permitted to smoke no more than four celebratory cigars per year, or face up to $650 in fines per year or are forced to quit their jobs.

“Since county employees are only allowed to smoke four cigars a year, we figured it might as well be the biggest cigar in the world!” said Borysiewicz

 “This executive order is a misguided use of the mayor’s power and should be overturned as soon as possible.  It goes way beyond the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act’s indoor smoking ban and may well be illegal because of that.  Smokers and non-smokers alike should demand that the order be rescinded and that their politicians stop telling them how to live their lives,” said Borysiewicz.

He pointed out that tourists and local citizens alike can’t smoke or use any tobacco product (including smokeless tobacco) on county property – indoors or outdoors.

“That includes the Convention Center, county-owned sidewalks, lawns, parking lots, streets, public parks, boat ramps and docks and other county buildings, indoors or out,” said Borysiewicz who has been working to bring the IPCPR’s annual convention to Orlando but has hit a brick wall with the mayor’s draconian smoking ban.

“This convention alone attracts some 5,000 attendees and generates an estimated $16 million in economic impact wherever it is held.  Imagine how many other conventions, meetings, visitors and tourists are deterred from coming to Orlando or any of the cities in Orange County because of this extreme ban,” he said.

Borysiewicz urged all Orange County residents to show their opposition to this executive order by calling, writing or sending emails to Mayor Crotty and Commissioners S. Scott Boyd, Fred Brummer, Linda Stewart, Bill Segal and Tiffany Moore Russell.

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Unrecognized Guid format.Briar Patch Smoke Shops Golf Tournament Benefits Iraq Star Foundation

Sacramento, California  August 3, 2010 – In the words of a top government official, “This is a big fricking deal,” says Ron Michelson, owner of Briar Patch Smoke Shops in Sacramento. 

Michelson was referring to what is planned to be the Briar Patch’s First Annual Golf Tournament benefiting the Iraq Star Foundation to be held Friday, September 17 at the Ancil Hoffman Golf Course in Carmichael, California.

The Iraq Star Foundation provides reconstructive surgery to American soldiers returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. These surgeries help our wounded warriors resume happy, productive lives, and are beyond what the VA and the military will provide. All procedures are performed by board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeons who donate their skills. The Foundation pays for virtually everything else.

The event will begin with registration at 11:00 a.m. with tee-offs beginning at noon.  The $99 fee includes entry to all events, 18-holes of golf, riding cart, lunch, dinner and a chance to win various prizes.  There will be contests and prizes for longest drive, closest to pin and hole-in-one.

“Throughout the year, we stage a number of fund-raising events for community and patriotic causes, but this is one I am particularly pleased to be involved in,” said Michelson who also serves on the Board of Directors of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.  The IPCPR is comprised of some 2,000 retailers and manufacturers of premium cigars, pipes, tobacco and related accoutrements.

Registration and sponsorship information is available at the Briar Patch Smoke Shops or online at www.briarpatch.biz.  One location is at Arden Fair Mall, 1689 Arden Way and the other is at Loehmann’s Plaza, 2529 Fair Oaks Blvd., both in Sacramento.  Merchandise donations should go to the Loehmann’s Plaza location. 

More information about the Iran Star Foundation may be found at www.iraqstar.org.

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Unrecognized Guid format.‘Just Say No’ to Savannah’s Proposed Smoking Ban, says IPCPR

Savannah, Georgia  July 23, 2010 – The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association is urging smokers and non-smokers alike to ‘just say no’ to the Savannah City Council’s proposed smoking ban extension that would include virtually all workplaces, including smoke shops.

The second opportunity for comment on the issue will be at the Quarterly Town Hall Meeting to be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 28 in the Savannah Civic Center Ballroom.  The proposal would eliminate current exemptions in the Georgia law by making all workplaces smoke-free.  This includes all indoor and outdoor areas of bars, restaurants, private clubs and other businesses, including cigar stores and within 20 feet from the entrance to any such workplace.

“What no one needs is more of government telling people what they can and cannot do,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

The IPCPR is an association of some 2,000 retailers and manufacturers of premium cigars, pipes, tobacco and accoutrements.  These are, by and large, small, family businesses that have been passed on from generation to generation.  According to McCalla, they do not represent what most people would classify as ‘big tobacco.’

“Our members hire neighborhood folks,  pay all kinds of local, state and federal taxes, including taxes that fully support SCHIP – the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.  Without tobacco taxes, SCHIP would disappear,” he said.

McCalla said that levels of secondhand smoke in virtually all working establishments are well within the safe standards set by the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  He also cited a paper funded by the Lung Association and published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine that puts the passive consumption of secondhand smoke at 0.009 cigarettes an hour in a bar and 0.001 at a bus stop.

“That means bartenders would get exposure to roughly 20 cigarettes per year which isn’t enough to do anyone any harm,” he said.

In addition to dismissing the overreaching claims against the impact of secondhand smoke, McCalla said legislative smoking bans tend to be unconstitutional and could lead to usurpation of civil rights.

“Jobs and businesses truly are at stake here, as well as the rights of business owners to declare whether or not smoking should be allowed in their establishments.  If government was to declare no smoking in its facilities, then so be it.  If a restaurant owner decides that his place of business will allow smoking, then that’s his right, as well.  If patrons and potential employees don’t want to patronize a place that allows smoking, they have the right to go somewhere else,” he said.

McCalla urged all Savannah citizens, all Georgians and everyone else to attend the hearing or call the City Council at 912-651-6441 or the office Mayor Otis Johnson at 912-651-6444 to voice their objection to the proposal.

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Unrecognized Guid format.Book Signing by Local Author Featured Aug. 7 at Briar Patch Loehmann’s Plaza

Sacramento, California   July 22, 2010 – Briar Patch Smoke Shop at Loehmann’s Plaza, the area’s newest destination location for premium cigar and pipe smokers, will host a book signing Saturday, August 7 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. for Sacramento author Tim Comstock’s latest book, ‘Reunion in Carmel.’

Loehmann’s Plaza is located at 2529 Fair Oaks Blvd in Sacramento, California.

A murder mystery, ‘Reunion in Carmel’ is Comstock’s first novel.  Now-retired, the former Dean of Students at California State University, Sacramento previously published books on the history of Sacramento’s Sutter Club, YMCA and Grandfathers’ Club.  At CSUS, Comstock also taught business law and co-taught journalism.  He later served as Executive Director of the California Dental Association.

Comstock has been a longtime customer of Briar Patch’s owner, Ron Michelson.   A pipe smoker for most of his life, Comstock has a collection of several hundred pipes, of which his favorite is a Dunhill Group 5 Billiards.  His favorite tobacco is McBaren Burley London Blend.

“I am a voracious reader. Among the thousands of books I have read are more than 800 murder mysteries, many of which I complained to my wife, Nancy, that were not very well done.  She told me to write one myself if I thought I could do better.  And so I have,” Comstock said.

Comstock said that he wrote most of the book during extended visits to the home in Carmel that his family has owned for some 85 years.

The hardcover book’s cover features a water color work by Sacramento artist Miles Hermann.  Hermann’s work is currently being shown at Park Fine Art at 2673 21st near Second Ave. in Sacramento.

In addition to promoting the book which will soon be available in book stores nationwide for $24, Comstock has several Sherlock Holmes short stories in the works and is already developing a sequel to ‘Reunion.’

About the Book

A brutal killer stalks Carmel. Police Chief Will Kempton must call on his long untested skills to save himself and his family and the village he has come to love.  The Trail twists and turns as the hunter becomes the hunted and the crimes escalate.  Unique characters and Carmel’s quirky politics are thrown in a mix not helpful to the chief. As time runs out, only desperate measures can save the day.

Comstock expressed his appreciation to Jan Haag, professor in the English Department at Sacramento City College, who served as editor on the project.

Comstock’s website is currently under construction.

About Briar Patch

Briar Patch Smoke Shops feature the largest inventories of premium cigars, pipes, pipe tobaccos and accessories in the area.  The Loehmann’s Plaza location boasts the largest cigar humidor in Sacramento. The original Briar Patch is located at Arden Fair Mall, 1689 Arden Way.

“At both Briar Patch Smoke Shops and particularly at our new Diamond Crown Lounge in the Loehmann’s Plaza location, we have created an environment aimed at fostering leisurely pleasures where good friends and great cigars and pipes can come together.  Although a smoke shop may be an unusual venue for a book signing, we’re pleased to be supporting Mr. Comstock’s latest literary venture,” Michelson said.

For more information about Briar Patch Smoke Shops, go to www.briarpatch.biz.

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IPCPR Urges Courtesy, Not Ban, at Bus Shelters In Winston-Salem, NC

Winston-Salem, North Carolina  July 16, 2010 – The Winston-Salem (NC) Transit Authority is considering a ban on smoking in bus shelters but the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association says it has a better idea – post courtesy messages, instead.

The WSTA Board recently discussed the issue and plans to bring it up again at their next meeting, in response to a complaint by a single rider.

“The world is upside down,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.  “There’s no need to ban smoking in bus shelters and, even if it were enacted, there would be virtually no practical way to enforce it.  Just because one person complained, doesn’t mean thousands of other bus riders who happen to be smokers should be inconvenienced.”

The single complaint centered on the shelters on Hawthorne Road, near Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, where Center employees often go to smoke, away from the non-smoking hospital grounds.

“Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater,” said McCalla. “Instead of an outright ban, simply post signs reminding smokers to be considerate of others when there is a need for them to share a shelter with non-smokers.  Smokers, by and large, are a considerate bunch and will appreciate the civil tradeoff.”

McCalla said it had nothing to do with alleged health factors regarding secondhand smoke.

“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.”

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 bus shelters is the first 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.”

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Tobacconists Say Denville, NJ Smoking Ban Penalties ‘Over the Top’

Denville, New Jersey  July 15, 2010 – The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association believes the recently enacted smoking ban in Denville, New Jersey is ‘over the top’ because, among other reasons, it could land errant smokers in jail.

The Denville town council earlier this week enacted an anti-smoking ordinance which is effective August 10 and will include parking lots, bleachers, playgrounds and adjoining sidewalks among the prohibited locations.  A fine of up to $100 or up to two days of community service will be applied to first-time offenders which second-time offenders could face up to a $250 fine or five days of community service.

According to the ordinance, third time offenders will face up to a $500 fine or community service of at least 10 days or any combination of fine, imprisonment and community service determined by the municipal court.

The ordinance applies to cigars, cigarettes, pipes, ‘or any other matter or substance which contains tobacco.’

“This is over the top as far as abuse of individual rights goes,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.  “Yes, many municipalities have banned smoking on city properties, but few equal the onerous penalties implied with Denville’s ban.”

McCalla wondered what the council’s motivation was.

“It can’t be claims of littering, because there are laws against littering and it doesn’t make sense to clutter the codes with more unenforced laws.  It certainly can’t be related to secondhand smoke, because it has been proven that there are, indeed, safe levels of secondhand smoke as established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the United States Department of Labor, especially outdoors,” he said.

“We can only assume that the council has been duped by anti-smoking forces who use unscientific and often false claims to support their outlandish allegations.”

McCalla said that property owners – even cities – have the right to decide whether or not to allow or ban smoking on their properties.  However, sentences of high fines, community service and even jail are ‘going too far.’

“There are other, more serious infractions of existing laws that don’t come near to the levels of penalties that could be applied to smoking ban offenders.  That’s going too far.  The council members have taken far too much power into their hands in an effort to legislate the behavior of their constituents,” McCalla said.

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Unrecognized Guid format.New York Tobacconists Warn Bloomberg About Extending Smoking Ban to Parks, Beaches

New York, New York  July 12, 2010 – The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association today warned Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg against his consideration to extend New York City’s smoking ban to include the city’s parks and beaches.

When Dr. Thomas A. Farley, New York City’s health commissioner, proposed the broad-reaching ban last year, it caught Mayor Bloomberg off guard.  Now, according to a report in the New York Times, the mayor is ‘leaning toward’ the extended ban as part of Farley’s tobacco-free strategy that would affect more than 1,700 parks, playground and recreational facilities, in addition to the city’s seven beaches and 14 miles of shoreline.  Farley’s strategy includes increasing taxes on tobacco, and urging businesses to reject financing and sponsorship from the tobacco industry.

According to the New York Times article, one of the reasons the mayor is considering the proposal is “because people take their cigarette butts and the packages and just throw them away,” they quoted him as saying.

“There already are littering laws that take care of that concern.  Enforce the laws already on the books before you create meaningless and damaging new ones,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

The IPCPR is comprised of some 2,000 members, including owners of retail cigar stores and manufacturers and distributors of premium cigars and related accoutrements.

“Our members are small businesses, mostly mom-and-pop operations that employ thousands of people.  We pay local, state, federal and payroll taxes.  Our customers enjoy premium cigars like most people enjoy fine wine. The more you limit the places you can enjoy a good cigar, the quicker you put us out of business and eliminate all those jobs and the taxes they generate,” McCalla said.

McCalla cited a Federal Reserve study that showed how smoking bans have proven to be economic dampeners. 

“An Illinois smoking ban in casinos saw a decline in casino revenues of 21 percent while neighboring state casinos  – all without smoking bans – had revenues stay flat or make slight gains even during a slowing economy,” he said.

“The myths surrounding secondhand smoke – especially that which one might encounter in an outdoor environment - have played on the ignorance and gullibility of the public.  Even the Surgeon General’s report says the health effects of secondhand smoke are inconclusive.  And that was indoors! 

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Unrecognized Guid format.IPCPR Hosts Anniversary Meeting of Congressional Cigar Association

Washington, D.C.  July 6, 2010 -- To celebrate the first anniversary of the Congressional Cigar Association (CCA), virtually all members of the Board of Directors of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) and several of its Associate Members flew into Washington D.C. for an evening of fellowship and camaraderie with some 200 members of the CCA on June 23. 

On the following day, all 24 of the IPCPR representatives broke into four teams, with each team visiting between nine and 11 congressional members or their staffs.  The two days of intensive meetings and all the work that went into their planning, organizing, execution and follow-up were part of the IPCPR’s ongoing efforts to generate increased understanding of the premium cigar industry among federal legislators, regulators and their staffs.

“It’s important for us to be communicating with these key influencers on an on-going basis so that when a piece of legislation comes along that could impact our industry, they are better informed about our industry and the kinds of people and industries that depend on and enjoy premium cigars and pipes,” said Ken P. Neumann, chairman of the IPCPR’s Legislative Committee and owner of Cigars and More of Libertyville, Illinois.

The CCA is an official “Congressional Staff Organization” and is officially recognized by Congress.  The group is comprised of Congressional staff members who share a passion for premium cigars.  They host quarterly meetings and a variety of social events to educate Congressional staff and Members of Congress regarding the premium cigar industry as well as to share their enjoyment of hand-made cigars and the camaraderie they foster.

Since the beginning, the IPCPR has been an integral part of the growth of CCA, now with some 150 members, under the leadership of Joe Rowe, executive director, and Chris McCalla, legislative director, with the support and involvement of several retail and associate members of the IPCPR, its Board of Directors under Gary Pesh, and the Board’s Legislative Committee chaired by Ken Neumann, and the Associate Member Advisory Board.

The IPCPR hosted an informal Congressional staff briefing for CCA members and other House and Senate staffers on April 29 in the Capitol Visitors Center.  The one-hour briefing featured presentations by Rocky Patel, of Rocky Patel Premium Cigars in Bonita Springs, Florida; Gary Pesh of Old Virginia Tobacco in Warrenton, Virginia; Tiffany Rumbo of Club Humidor in San Antonio, Texas; and Jeff Borysiewicz of Corona Cigar Co. in Orlando, Florida.  

More than 65 staffers showed up to learn how premium cigars are made, about the countries that produce them and the economic impact of the cigar industry in these countries, and about IPCPR retailers, which are largely mom-and-pop small businesses.  In addition, open forum discussions were held, focusing on the effects of legislation on premium cigar retailers, especially tax-based Congressional and regulatory actions.

Attendees also received background information about IPCPR, premium cigars, retailers and manufacturers, and how misinformation about the health aspects of premium cigars and pipe tobacco is misleading opinion leaders and the general public.

The June anniversary get-together was staged on the rooftop of 101 Constitution across from the Capital Building, just a couple of blocks from the White House.  The evening reception included refreshments, hors d’oeuvres and plenty of cigars provided by  IPCPR Associate Members in attendance including Rocky Patel of Rocky Patel Premium Cigars; Christian Eiroa of Camacho Cigars; Eric and Bobby Newman of J.C. Newman Cigar Co.; Jorge Padron of Padron Cigars; Litto Gomez of La Flor Dominicana; and Dan Murphy of Humidipak.

The CCA presented its ‘Spirit Award’ to David Berkebile, past president of IPCPR and owner of Georgetown Tobacco, for his efforts to help establish the group and link it with the IPCPR for its quarterly cigar events, educational staff briefings and informal cigar socials, all of which enable both the CCA and the IPCPR to build relationships with one another.

IPCPR’s Washington lobbyists, K&L Gates, were instrumental in organizing the IPCPR teams and their visits with Congressional members and their staffs on the day after the CCA reception.

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Unrecognized Guid format.Motorcyclists Rally in Chattanooga for Wounded Warriors

Chattanooga, Tennessee  June 30, 2010 – While thousands of members of the  STAR Touring and Riding Association gather in Chattanooga July 20-23, the Richmond, Virginia STAR Chapter 440 will be staging a “Cigar-B-Que” in partnership with the Chattanooga Billiard Club to raise funds for the Wounded Warrior Project.

The unique fundraiser on July 20 is open to the public and will include dinner and games, including billiards and darts tournaments.  The Billiard Club is located at 110 Jordan Drive in Chattanooga. Sponsors include the Chattanooga Billiard Club, Banquet and Convention Center, the Rocky Patel Cigar Company and Groome Transportation.  

Tickets, which must be purchased in advance, are available for $20 each and include admission, dinner and a Rocky Patel premium cigar.  Details and event registration are at www.star440.org/cigarbque.  Venue information and directions can be found at www.cbcburns.com. 

Half of the proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to WWP as will all proceeds from games and tournaments.  Rocky Patel will attend the event with other representatives of his company which will offer event specials on its line of premium cigars through Burns Tobacconist, the on-site premium cigar retailer.  Burns will donate 20 percent of sales proceeds to WWP.

About STAR Touring and Riding Association

Founded in 1996, STAR Touring and Riding Association is an international family riding organization comprised of more than 65,000 members from some 285 chapters. As the "Official Riding Organization of Star Motorcycles," STAR is a non-political, non-confrontational association whose main focus is on family, fun, camaraderie and riding. All brands of motorcycles are welcome.  More information is available at www.startouring.org.

About STAR Chapter 440

The Richmond, Virginia chapter of STAR Touring and Riding Association is headed by Dwayne Terrier, president. “STAR Touring and Riding is a very patriotic group. We are encouraged to recognize and support our veterans. We feel our Chattanooga rally is a great opportunity to give something back to those who have sacrificed so much for us,” he said.  Terrier said that, although the July 20 event will occur during the rally, it is the Richmond chapter’s initiative, is not part of the official rally agenda, and has STAR’s approval, encouragement and general support.

About Wounded Warrior Project

WWP is a charity whose mission is to raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of severely injured servicemen and women, to help severely injured service members to aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of severely injured service members.  Information about WWP can be found at www.woundedwarriorproject.org.

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Unrecognized Guid format.REVISED: Massachusetts Proposes Anti-Tobacco Propaganda Where Tobacco is Sold

Note to Editors:  The original version of this news release, issued on June 17, 2010, contained a quotation by Dr. Andrew Weil.  His office has requested that we “remove the quote and forward a brief retraction to the same distribution network simply stating that Dr. Weil has made no comment to the IPCPR, and that the quote appearing previously was taken out of context from one of his books written in 1983.” Out of courtesy to Dr. Weil, following is the revised version of that release.

Boston, Massachusetts June 30, 2010 – The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is preparing to post propaganda pictures in some 9,000 locations where tobacco is sold using a federal stimulus grant of $316,000 to at least partially pay to print them.  That hardly contributes to job creation and economic recovery in the state, according to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

“First the federal government expands the State Children’s Health Insurance Program – SCHIP - and expects increased tobacco taxes to pay for it. Then it gives hundreds of thousands of dollars to support efforts to reduce smoking.  Talk about mixed messages!  Also, such propaganda against smoking will only hurt small businesses while reducing local, state and federal tax revenues,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

The association represents some 2,000 professional tobacconists, most of whom are small business owners of mom-and-pop neighborhood cigar stores along with premium cigar manufacturers and distributors of related merchandise.  Nearly 40 of those members reside, work and run their businesses in the state of Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts proposal requires that stores display images of human organs purportedly damaged by smoking. 

According to the Cambridge, Mass.-based civil rights activist Stephen Helfer, such propaganda would be blatantly misleading. 

“Massachusetts plans to use images of lungs allegedly damaged by smoking.  The message being, that a smoker’s lungs are invariably diseased.  The public has no way of knowing, however, if the lungs in the images are from a smoker or a nonsmoker,” Helfer wrote in an as-yet unpublished letter to the editor of The Boston Globe.

Helfer also cited evidence that cigarette smokers have a reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and that a similar effect has also been noticed in epidemiological studies of Alzheimer’s disease.

“If health officials wanted to educate, rather than only frighten, they could require that the image of a normal brain of a smoker be displayed next to one ravaged by either of these dread diseases,” he noted.

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Unrecognized Guid format.Massachusetts Proposes Anti-Tobacco Propaganda Where Tobacco is Sold

Boston, Massachusetts June 17, 2010 – The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is preparing to post propaganda pictures in some 9,000 locations where tobacco is sold using a federal stimulus grant of $316,000 to at least partially pay to print them.  That hardly contributes to job creation and economic recovery in the state, according to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

“First the federal government expands the State Children’s Health Insurance Program – SCHIP - and expects increased tobacco taxes to pay for it. Then it gives hundreds of thousands of dollars to support efforts to reduce smoking.  Talk about mixed messages!  Also, such propaganda against smoking will only hurt small businesses while reducing local, state and federal tax revenues,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

The association represents some 2,000 professional tobacconists, most of whom are small business owners of mom-and-pop neighborhood cigar stores along with premium cigar manufacturers and distributors of related merchandise.  Nearly 40 of those members reside, work and run their businesses in the state of Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts proposal requires that stores display images of human organs purportedly damaged by smoking. 

According to the Cambridge, Mass.-based civil rights activist Stephen Helfer, such propaganda would be blatantly misleading. 

“”Massachusetts plans to use images of lungs allegedly damaged by smoking.  The message being, that a smoker’s lungs are invariably diseased.  The public has no way of knowing, however, if the lungs in the images are from a smoker or a nonsmoker,” Helfer wrote in an as-yet unpublished  letter to the editor of The Boston Globe.

“I  meet men and women in their seventies and eighties who have smoked two or three packs a day since adolescence and appear in better respiratory shape than some younger people who do not smoke,” said Andre Weil, M.D., the so-called father of integrative medicine and author of several best-selling books promoting general health and healthy aging.

Helfer also cited evidence that cigarette smokers have a reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and that a similar effect has also been noticed in epidemiological studies of Alzheimer’s disease.

“If health officials wanted to educate, rather than only frighten, they could require that the image of a normal brain of a smoker be displayed next to one ravaged by either of these dread diseases,” he noted.

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Unrecognized Guid format.

Cigar Store Owners Say Increased Pa. Tobacco Taxes will Lower Tax Revenues

 

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania  June 16, 2010 – Gov. Ed Rendell’s budget for Pennsylvania’s 2009-2010 fiscal year that begins in two weeks will be looking in part to increased and new taxes on cigarette and cigar smokers for increased tax revenues which the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association says will never come.

Rendell’s budget proposal would increase cigarette taxes by 10 cents per pack and impose new taxes on other tobacco products, including cigars, snuff and pipe tobacco. 

“The exact amounts of increased and new taxes, if any, are yet to be determined and will continue to be a moving target while lawmakers figure out what they think they can get away with,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

“Regardless, no tax increase is a good tax increase, especially on tobacco products, because smokers will find ways to get around those higher taxes.  As in other states that raise their tobacco taxes, the net result will be that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania actually will get lower revenues than they got before because some smokers will quit and many others will go out of state or look to the Internet or bootlegged products to get around paying the higher taxes,” McCalla said.

“As hungry as the state is for additional revenues, they have to realize that these proposed tax increases would hurt businesses and state residents and visitors more than help raise tax revenues,” said McCalla who also pointed out that 70 Pennsylvania-based tobacconists of the more than 2,000 IPCPR members do not represent ‘Big Tobacco.’

“Premium cigars and pipe tobaccos are made and sold primarily by small, family-owned businesses that have been hand-crafting and retailing their products for generations.  These premium cigars and tobaccos are then sold by largely mom-and-pop operators who employ local citizens, serve their neighbors, and pay federal, state and local sales and payroll taxes,” McCalla said.

“In the final analysis, it would be our citizens and visitors who would be hurt and have to pay the additional taxes just to enjoy an occasional premium cigar or bowlful of pipe tobacco, as they might enjoy a single-malt scotch whiskey or a bottle of good wine,” said McCalla.

McCalla urged Pennsylvania voters to contact their state legislators and voice their opposition to any new or increased state taxes.

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‘Unrecognized Guid format.Catastrophic’ Industry Failure Linked to Proposed Cigar Tax Increase

Albany, New York  June 11, 2010 – The New York State Tobacconists Association and the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) are demanding that the proposed state tax increase to 90 percent on cigars and other tobacco products be voted down before the state loses more money and jobs because of what they say is another small business killer. 

Last year, the Federal government levied the highest tax increases in history on cigars and other tobacco products and, immediately thereafter, New York State approved its own increase on the same tobacco products from 37 percent to 46 percent.  Now, Governor David Patterson is proposing to raise the OTP tax again, this time from 46 percent to 90 percent, claiming it would raise an additional $40 million in state revenues.

“That’s outrageous, ludicrous and potentially catastrophic. Already the 46 percent tax increase is resulting in lower tax revenues and several tobacco shops are closing while many others are failing.  Raising that tax to 90 percent will drive the rest of us out of business, force our customers to buy out of state, over the Internet, or look for bootlegged products which are illegal.  The bottom line is that the state will get even less revenues than before because of the lost business and lost jobs,” says Ron Melendi, a fourth generation tobacconist of Cuban descent.

Melendi’s group, the New York State Tobacconists Association, along with the IPCPR and other organizations representing small businesses, are fighting the proposed new tax increase.

Melendi runs De La Concha America, a tobacco store in Manhattan that has been at 1390 Avenue of the Americas for nearly 50 years.  He has been a full-time professional tobacconist for 20 years.  His group represents nearly 100 tobacconists statewide which translates into 1,500 neighborhood jobs throughout New York State that depend on the sale of cigars and other tobacco products.

“We’ve been writing letters, testifying, mobilizing our troops and meeting with state assembly and senate leadership.  We also are appealing to smokers and non-smokers alike because what is happening makes no sense whatsoever. If they want to do what’s right, they will contact their elected state representatives to tell them to vote against this proposal,” said Melendi.

“A 90 percent tax will kill the premium tobacco industry in New York State. Some of our members are already leaving the state or are on the brink of failure.   Our customers will go elsewhere for their cigars and pipe tobacco.  New Jersey’s tax rate is 30 percent and Pennsylvania is one of the few states that does not tax cigars or pipe tobacco.  Buying cigars from out-of-state mail order and Internet dealers results in no taxes for anyone.  And it would also encourage illegal sales of bootlegged tobacco products.  The result would be a decline in jobs and tax receipts for the state, not an increase,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director for the IPCPR.

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Unrecognized Guid format.PREMIUM CIGAR ASSOCIATION SAYS ORANGE COUNTY SMOKING BAN MAY BE ILLEGAL

Orlando, Florida  May 26, 2010 – Apparently without any public hearings or prior publicity, Orange County Mayor Richard T. Crotty secretly signed an executive order late last year that has kept tens of millions of dollars from pouring into the local economy.  At the same time, the jobs of thousands of county workers are being threatened, according to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

Crotty signed an executive order that prohibits tobacco use by anyone in any workplace or public area on or in county property.  The order was effective January 1, 2010.  In addition, county employees are required to sign a ‘Tobacco Usage’ affidavit that swears they don’t smoke or be subject to a $25 fee per pay period – up to $650 per year.  The alternative is for the employees who choose to smoke more than four cigars per year to quit their jobs.

“This is an outrageous misuse of power and should be overturned as soon as possible.  It goes way beyond the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act and may well be illegal because of that.  Smokers and non-smokers alike should demand that the order be rescinded and that their politicians stop telling them how to live their lives,” said Jeff Borysiewicz, owner of Corona Cigar Company in Orlando, Florida and Board member of the IPCPR.

He pointed out that tourists and local citizens alike can’t smoke or use any tobacco product on county property – indoors or outdoors.

“That includes the Convention Center, county-owned sidewalks, parking lots, streets, public parks, boat ramps and docks and other county buildings, indoors or out,” said Borysiewicz who has been working to bring the IPCPR convention to Orlando but has hit a brick wall with the mayor’s draconian smoking ban.

“This convention alone attracts some 5,000 attendees and generates an estimated $10 million in economic impact wherever it is held.  Imagine how many other conventions, meetings, visitors and tourists are deterred from coming to Orlando or any of the cities in Orange County because of this extreme ban,” he said.

The IPCPR has more than 2,000 members worldwide, nearly 300 of which are located throughout the state of Florida.  Most of the members are owners of mom-and-pop neighborhood cigar stores.

“The Mayor apparently has a cozy relationship with well-funded anti-smoking organizations when it comes to allowing people to use legal tobacco products that generate massive amounts of taxes that benefit state and federal government programs like children’s healthcare.  Ironically, soon after he signed the order, Orlando County received nearly $7 million in federal stimulus funds that went to the county health department to prevent tobacco usage instead of being used to create jobs,” he added. 

Borysiewicz urged all Orange County residents to show their opposition to this executive order by calling, writing or sending emails to County Mayor Crotty and Commissioners S. Scott Boyd, Fred Brummer, Linda Stewart, Bill Segal and Tiffany Moore Russell.

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Unrecognized Guid format.

Pennsylvania Legislators Consider 30 Percent Tax on OTP

 

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania  May 7, 2010 – If Pennsylvanians are finally getting back on their financial feet, the worst thing state legislators can do is raise their taxes, including a new 30 percent tax on tobacco products other than cigarettes, says the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

The State’s House Appropriations Committee has approved HB 2435 – a 73-page bill which amends the Tax Reform Code with respect to a wide variety of taxes including the sales and use tax vendor discount, corporate net income tax combined reporting, and severance tax.  It also would, for the first time, impose a 30 percent tax on the wholesale cost of OTP – other tobacco products.

“As hungry as the state is for additional revenues, they have to realize that this proposed tax would hurt business more than help raise tax revenues and, in doing so, would do substantial harm to small businesses across the state,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

McCalla pointed out that 70 Pennsylvania-based members of the more than 2,000 IPCPR members do not represent ‘Big Tobacco.’

“We are not ‘big tobacco.’  Premium cigars and premium pipe tobaccos are made primarily by small, family-owned businesses that have been hand-crafting their products for generations.  These premium cigars and tobaccos are then sold by smoke shop owners, largely mom-and-pop operators who employ local citizens, serve their neighbors, and pay federal, state and local sales and payroll taxes,” McCalla said.

He also reminded legislators that tobacco doesn’t pay taxes, people do.

“In the final analysis, it would be Pennsylvania’s citizens – largely the middle-class – who would be hurt and have to pay the additional taxes just to enjoy an occasional premium cigar or bowlful, as they might enjoy a single-malt scotch whiskey or a bottle of good wine,” said McCalla. “They would end up doing without or buying their premium tobacco products out of state or from mail-order houses.  In both cases, the state ends up getting no revenue whatsoever.”

Heavily taxed tobacco products in other states also have encouraged illegal smuggling into those states, McCalla added.

“So, not only would such a tax on cigars potentially cause the loss of businesses, jobs and tax revenues, it would encourage smuggling and other illegal activities in Pennsylvania,” he said.

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Unrecognized Guid format.Bad News Expected from New Hampshire Tobacco Tax Proposals

Concord, New Hampshire  May 6, 2010 – Most stories have good news and bad news.  This one, according to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association, has the potential of only bad news when it comes to proposed tax increases on tobacco products other than cigarettes in New Hampshire.

The New Hampshire House Finance Committee has voted to raise state taxes on most tobacco products other than cigarettes from 48.59 percent to 65 percent to make the tax more on a par with the current cigarette tax which is $1.78 per pack.

“That’s the bad news.  But it could be worse.  The governor’s proposal was to raise the cigarette tax by 20 cents.  Also, another proposal sought to raise the tax on most other tobacco products by as much as 72 percent,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR, an organization representing some 2,000 retailers and manufacturers of premium cigars and premium pipe tobacco.  Most of the members are small businesses, mom-and-pop neighborhood tobacco shops fighting for survival in a difficult economy.

“Yes, it’s bad, but it could be worse.  One thing for sure is that it’s not over yet,” said McCalla.

The full House is expected to act next week.  The floor vote is expected to be tight with many legislators committed to no further tax increases.  A similarly tight result is expected in the Senate.  Experts are predicting the proposal, if it gets that far, will likely be the subject of a full battle in the House-Senate Committee of Conference.

“We won’t be out of the woods until the legislature’s adjournment which is not expected until June 1,” said McCalla.

McCalla reminded the legislators that higher taxes on tobacco products never result in raising the funds projected.  In fact, they lead to higher prices which force consumers to search for and find other sources for these products, sources that produce no tax revenues for the state and often are illegal.

“Consumers will purchase their tobacco across state borders or over the Internet which would completely eliminate tax revenues to the state from these transactions.  Also, bootlegged product will pour into the state and will lead to illegal sales and, again, no state revenues.  In fact, enforcing tobacco laws will end up costing the state more which would result in negative revenues from these products,” McCalla said.

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Unrecognized Guid format.IPCPR Hosts Educational Briefing for Congressional Cigar Association

Washington, D.C.  May 3, 2010 --  In May 2009, several Congressional staff members who shared a passion for premium cigars got together and created the Congressional Cigar Association (CCA).  Now 150 strong and growing, the group hosts a variety of social events to educate Congressional staff and Members of Congress about the premium cigar industry as well as share their enjoyment of hand-made cigars and the camaraderie they foster.

Since the beginning, the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association has been an integral part of the growth of CCA, under the leadership of Joe Rowe, executive director, and Chris McCalla, legislative director, with the support and involvement of several retail and associate members of the IPCPR, its Board of Directors under Gary Pesh, and the Board’s Legislative Committee chaired by Ken Neumann, and the Associate Member Advisory Board.

Most recently, the IPCPR hosted an informal Congressional staff briefing for CCA members and other House and Senate staffers on April 29 in the Capitol Visitors Center.  The one-hour briefing featured presentations by Rocky Patel, of Rocky Patel Premium Cigars in Bonita Springs, Florida; Gary Pesh of Old Virginia Tobacco in Warrenton, Virginia; Tiffany Rumbo of Club Humidor in San Antonio, Texas; and Jeff Borysiewicz of Corona Cigar Co. in Orlando, Florida.  

More than 65 staffers showed up to learn how premium cigars are made, about the countries that produce them and the economic impact of the cigar industry in these countries, and about IPCPR retailers, which are largely mom-and-pop small businesses.  In addition, open forum discussions were held, focusing on the effects of legislation on premium cigar retailers, especially tax-based Congressional and regulatory actions.

Attendees also received background information about IPCPR, premium cigars, retailers and manufacturers, and how misinformation about the health aspects of premium cigars and pipe tobacco is misleading opinion leaders and the general public.

“I can’t tell you how many times these staffers walked up to me and said ‘I had no idea!’ regarding the information we shared with them,” said McCalla.  “It was further proof that we need to continue to communicate with legislators, opinion leaders and the general public in order to get our story out regarding the specialness of premium cigars and pipe tobacco.  The fate of our industry could well depend on it.”

The CCA is an official “Congressional Staff Organization,” which is officially recognized by Congress.

“The quarterly cigar events that CCA hosts, along with the educational staff briefings and informal cigar socials, are all opportunities to get together and build relationships.  Sure, we talk about premium cigar and premium tobacco issues, but these staffers are rarely able to get together in a semi-social way to trade opinions over cigars and they are grateful to us for providing them with the platform to do so,” McCalla said.  “IPCPR will continue to support the growth of CCA and partner with them on their upcoming events.”

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Unrecognized Guid format.

FDA and Cigars: Important Notice from IPCPR & CAA

International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR)

 


IPCPR Working with Association's FDA Team, CAA on Latest FDA Notice Regarding Cigars 

 

April 30, 2010--On April 26, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to which the FDA reports, published its semiannual regulatory agenda as required by law. The agenda is an inventory of rulemaking actions currently under development within the Department.

 

Included under the "Proposed Rule Stage" was a notice that the FDA intends to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking "which would deem cigars to be subject to the Tobacco Control Act and include provisions to address public health concerns raised by cigars." 

 

The notice indicated a target date of June 2010 for publishing the notice.

 

The Tobacco Control Act that was signed into law in June, 2009 gave FDA the authority over all tobacco products. However, FDA only has immediate authority to regulate cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco - not cigars or pipe tobacco. 

 

In order to regulate cigars and/or pipe tobacco, the FDA is required to go through a rulemaking process. The notification that the FDA is working on a proposed rule is the beginning of what could be a lengthy process and is difficult to predict when the proposed rule will be issued (FDA frequently misses its target dates).

 

Once FDA proposes a rule, the agency is required to publish it in the Federal Register and allow at least 60 days for interested parties to comment. That is followed by the FDA's own review period (It is impossible to predict how long FDA will take to evaluate the comments). After that review, FDA could issue another proposed rule, a final rule, or refer a proposed rule to its Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee for a report or recommendation.

 

It is critical to understand that much is unknown at this time. The lack of detail accompanying the FDA's notice means there is not a lot we know about what FDA might be thinking at this stage. It is important to remain vigilant until more details are known. The IPCPR continues its constant consultation with its FDA consultants to stay on top of this latest development. We also continue talking and the sharing of information with the CAA so everyone may be up-to-date and on the same page. 

 

We will update all of you immediately as new information becomes available. 

‘No More Taxes’ Says Premium Cigar Association to NY Legislators

Albany, New York  April 30, 2010 – As part of his $620 million budget gap closing plan, Governor David Patterson of New York has proposed yet another tax increase on tobacco products which the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association says would jeopardize the business of every community tobacconist and cigar shop throughout the state.

Under the Governor’s plan, the tobacco products tax on chewing tobacco, cigars, pipe tobacco and rolling tobacco would be increased from 46 percent of wholesale price to 90 percent of the wholesale price.  In addition, the tax on snuff would be raised from $.90 per ounce to $2.00 per ounce while little cigars would be taxed consistent with the proposed cigarette excise tax of $3.75 per pack, rather than the current rate of 46 percent of wholesale price.

“Not only would the existence of all tobacco shops in New York State be threatened by such tax increases, cigar and tobacco enthusiasts would be harshly impacted,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR, a not-for-profit organization that represents some 2,000 tobacconists, largely small business owners of mom-and-pop neighborhood cigar stores and manufacturers of premium, hand-made cigars.

“Instead of solving the budget dilemma, the Governor would further complicate things by driving cigar smokers and other tobacco users out of state or to make purchases over the Internet, thus avoiding all state taxes.  It would also encourage illegal sales of bootlegged tobacco products.  The result would be a decline in tax receipts for the state, not an increase,” said McCalla.

McCalla said principal arguments being offered in support of higher tobacco taxes are ill-founded and will backfire. He urged New York State voters to contact their elected state officials and tell them they are against any plan that increases tobacco taxes. 

“Such taxes never produce the kinds of new revenues that they are projected to raise.  They actually cost the state revenues because people find other, non-taxable ways to get their tobacco. The state continues to lean on the backs of tobacco – small business owners like our members who are struggling to keep their businesses alive.  With the tight economy, our retailers are providing jobs to their employees and paying taxes that the state needs.  To tax tobacco further will only hinder and possibly jeopardize their operations,” he said.

“The last thing New York State needs now is lower tax revenues, lost jobs and closed businesses,” McCalla said.

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Unrecognized Guid format.Proposed Extension of 2003 Smoking Ban Called ‘Silly’

Hartford, Connecticut  April 30, 2010 –  With all the important things being considered by The Connecticut General Assembly before its May 5 midnight deadline, some legislators want to extend the 2003 statewide workplace smoking ban by eliminating a provision that exempts establishments that employ up to five people.  The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association calls such a consideration silly and a waste of tax payers’ resources.

The Connecticut Senate voted 24-11 on April 22 and sent to the House a measure that makes the workplace ban apply even to a self-employed individual, whether or not he or she has any employees.

“Are they competing to win the silliness-in-legislation contest?” asked Chris McCalla, legislative director of IPCPR, a not-for-profit organization of some 2,000 small businesses, largely family-owned tobacco stores and manufacturers of premium cigars, pipe tobacco and related accoutrements.

State senators who supported the measure are said to maintain that secondhand smoke is harmful regardless of how many people are employed in a workplace. 

“I guess they never heard of OSHA.  Yes, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has set safe standards for secondhand smoke that are up to 25,000 times safer than the air quality found in most businesses, including the average restaurant and bar,” McCalla said. “And studies by the American Cancer Society and Johns Hopkins also prove that health claims purported by anti-tobaccophiles are wildly overstated.”

Other legislators like Sen. Rob Kane of Watertown are reported to have said that the bill infringes upon the rights of small businesses.

“Sen. Kane is right, but it infringes upon the rights of all businesses, not just small ones,” said McCalla. “Business owners large and small have the right to determine for themselves whether or not smoking would be allowed in their place of business.  Legislated smoking bans are unconstitutional whether the business is a sole-proprietorship or a major employer.”

McCalla called consideration of the proposed extension a waste of taxpayer resources.

“When state legislators should be focusing on ways to generate new jobs and keep the ones their states already have, here comes Connecticut proposing legislation that penalizes business owners for exercising their right to smoke or not to smoke.  All Connecticut voters – smokers and non-smokers alike – should be chastising their elected state officials for wasting their time on such trivial and ill-conceived issues.”

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Mobile Health Inspectors ‘Out of Bounds’ Says Premium Cigar Association

Mobile, Alabama April 29, 2010 – When a county health department conducts a restaurant inspection, should it deduct points if the restaurant allows smoking on the premises?  No, says the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

The Mobile County Health Department is considering a plan to automatically deduct four points from the health rating of any restaurant where smoking is permitted.  A separate proposal under consideration is the placing of a decal on the front door of any restaurant that allows smoking.  The sticker would warn patrons about the so-called dangers of secondhand smoke.

“They are way out of bounds with these draconian measures,” says Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR, a not-for-profit organization comprised of some 2,000 members, mostly owners of small, family businesses that manufacture, distribute or sell at retail premium cigars and pipe tobacco products and related accoutrements.

“The well-heeled anti-tobacco forces would have you believe that evil things will befall you if you occasionally take a whiff of tobacco smoke in a restaurant, bar or other place of business.  If that were the case, wouldn’t you think that OSHA – the Occupational Safety and Health Administration – would be all over it?  The fact is that OSHA has set safe levels for smoking that are up to 25,000 times higher than normally found in an average bar or restaurant that allows smoking,” McCalla said.

 “First, when a government regulatory agency penalizes restaurant owners for exercising their right to decide how to run their business, it is exceeding its authority and acting unconstitutionally.  It is attacking the rights of smokers and non-smokers, alike.  Second, businesses will suffer and jobs will be lost if such penalties would be allowed to stand.” 

According to McCalla, many of the IPCPR’s retail members sell their premium tobacco products to restaurants who, in turn, sell them to their customers.  To ‘punish’ smoking in restaurants will severely reduce these sales which will translate into reduced excise, sales, and business income tax revenues for Mobile County and the state of Alabama, he said.

“And the saddest part of all of this is that it is so unnecessary,” McCalla said.  “Secondhand smoke air quality testing by groups like Johns Hopkins and the American Cancer Society shows that health claims regarding secondhand smoke are greatly exaggerated.”

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Kansas SB516 Proposes to Increase Tobacco Taxes by Up to 300 Percent

Topeka, Kansas  April 29, 2010 – What if Kansas’ state sales tax went from 5.3 percent to more than 15 percent? How about paying state sales tax of 75 cents per gallon of gas instead of 25 cents?  Those are among the questions being asked by the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association as Kansas legislators consider ways to raise tax revenues instead of lowering expenditures as it seeks to close a budget gap of over $400 million.

The IPCPR, an association of some 2,000 small businesses, largely professional tobacconists who own neighborhood cigar stores, is battling Senate Bill 516 which would increase taxes on tobacco products by up to 300 percent, including those on premium cigars and pipe tobacco.

Well-heeled anti-tobacco forces are running an expensive newspaper and radio campaign claiming that the higher tobacco taxes will help close the budget gap.

“Everyone knows that increased taxes on tobacco products result in lower tax revenues, not higher, because they encourage illegal sales of bootlegged tobacco products and force people to cross borders and use the Internet to purchase their tobacco products.  The net result is the elimination of all tobacco tax receipts from the state’s coffers,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

McCalla said principal arguments being offered in support of higher tobacco taxes are ill-founded and misguided. He urged the public to contact members of the Kansas Senate Committee on Assessment and Taxation and tell them they are against SB516 which is currently in review.

“Such taxes never produce the kinds of new revenues that they are projected to raise.  They actually cost the state revenues because people find other, non-taxable ways to get their tobacco, mainly out of state or through illicit avenues.  With the tight economy, our retailers are providing jobs to their employees and paying taxes that the state needs.  To tax them further will only hinder and possibly jeopardize their operations,” he said.

“Kansas residents don’t want to be forced to pay a 15 percent state sales tax or 75 cents in state sales taxes per gallon of gas.  They shouldn’t have to pay taxes on tobacco that are up to three times what it is now.  The last thing Kansas needs now is lower tax revenues, lost jobs and closed businesses,” McCalla said.

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Premium Cigar Manufacturers, Retailers, Consumers Already Paying VAT-Like Tax in U.S.

Columbus, Georgia  April 27, 2010 – The United States already has a Value Added Tax (VAT) or something very close to it, according to an op-ed piece distributed this week to daily and weekly newspapers across the country.  It’s called SCHIP, according to Chris McCalla, legislative director of the association which represents some 2,000 tobacconists nationwide.

McCalla was referring to the controversial European VAT which is being considered for application in the United States on top of other sales taxes and that SCHIP is similarly applied. McCalla explained that SCHIP – the State Children’s Health Insurance Program – is the equivalent of a VAT.

“A VAT by any other name is still a VAT and, whether we like it or not (we don’t), the U.S. is already using a VAT-like tax under the guise of SCHIP which was originally enacted by Congress in 1997 and substantially expanded in early 2009,” said McCalla. 

“SCHIP is … funded entirely by tobacco taxes.  The tobacco industry – including members of (IPCPR) – has always been in favor of healthcare insurance for children, but for its funding to rely solely on the declining base of tobacco federal excise taxes doesn’t make any sense.  Healthcare costs go up and tax receipts go down because fewer people can afford the heavily taxed tobacco products or they find ways to avoid paying any tobacco taxes at all.  Add a so-called VAT and it makes even less sense.” 

He added that VAT is a misnomer.  Instead, “it should be called ‘an excuse to collect a hidden federal sales tax on products every step of the way – from providers of parts and components to manufacturers to wholesalers and retailers.’

“Manufacturers of hand-made cigars, for example, pay the tax when they sell their premium cigars and pipe tobaccos to retail tobacconists.  Then, in most cases, the retailers pay to their state governments a state excise tax on those same tobacco products except that the state excise tax is on the cost of the product including the full amount of the federal SCHIP tax.  That’s what’s happening now:  Our members pay state taxes on top of federal taxes, not just one in addition to another.  VAT would compound that once again.  And, don’t forget state and local sales taxes on top of all that!” he said.

McCalla reminded readers that current sales taxes are only applied when the consumer makes a purchase.

“As it is now, when a manufacturer sells products to a distributor and when the distributor sells his products to a retailer, there is no tax levied or paid, federal or state, except for excise taxes such as on tobacco.  State and local sales taxes are levied when the products are sold to the consumer – you and me. 

“Remember, a VAT is a hidden federal sales tax which will be imposed on that same product and its component parts, every step of the way – from parts suppliers to manufacturers to wholesalers to distributors to retailers, including when it is sold to you and me when the state and local sales taxes are added on top of it all.  It’s a tax on a tax on a tax on a… well, you get the idea.

According to McCalla, either way “we’re screwed.  Paying taxes on taxes and compounding them with more taxes is what it VAT all about.  It will be the end of many businesses – not just smoke shops and cigar bars.  It will mean the loss of many jobs, and it will create pricing of products that will put them out of the reach of many consumers – including you and me.”

McCalla recommended that all U.S. voters – smokers and non-smokers alike – should “become knowledgeable about SCHIP and VAT and, indeed, our nation’s entire system of federal and state taxation and let their elected representatives know how they feel.” 

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Premium Cigar Manufacturers, Retailers, Consumers Already Paying VAT-Like Tax in U.S.

The following is an op-ed written by Chris McCalla, legislative director of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.  Based in Columbus, Ga., the IPCPR represents some 2,000 manufacturers and retailers of premium cigars, pipes and pipe tobacco throughout the United States and elsewhere.  Members of IPCPR are, by and large, small, family-owned neighborhood business owners and professional tobacconists. 

 

=================================================================

Speaking of a VAT…

A VAT by any other name is still a VAT and, whether we like it or not (we don’t), the U.S. is already using a VAT-like tax under the guise of SCHIP which was originally enacted by Congress in 1997 and substantially expanded in early 2009.  VAT stands for ‘value added tax’ which is a misnomer.  It should be called ‘an excuse to collect a hidden federal sales tax on products every step of the way – from providers of parts and components to manufacturers to wholesalers and retailers.’

Hold that thought.  Let’s turn now to SCHIP.

SCHIP is the State Children’s Health Insurance Program which is funded entirely by tobacco taxes.  The tobacco industry – including members of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association – has always been in favor of healthcare insurance for children, but for its funding to rely solely on the declining base of tobacco federal excise taxes doesn’t make any sense.  Healthcare costs go up and tax receipts go down because fewer people can afford the heavily taxed tobacco products or they find ways to avoid paying any tobacco taxes at all.  Add a so-called VAT and it makes even less sense. 

Manufacturers of hand-made cigars, for example, pay the tax when they sell their premium cigars and pipe tobaccos to retail tobacconists.  Then, in most cases, the retailers then pay to their state governments a state excise tax on those same tobacco products except that state excise tax is on the cost of the product including the full amount of the federal SCHIP tax.  That’s what’s happening now:  Our members pay state taxes on top of federal taxes, not just one in addition to another.  And VAT would compound that once again.  And, don’t forget state and local sales taxes on top of all that!

As it is now, when a manufacturer sells products to a distributor and when the distributor sells their products to a retailer, there is no tax levied or paid, federal or state, except for excise taxes such as on tobacco.  State and local sales taxes are levied when the products are sold to the consumer – you and me. 

Now, let’s go back to the VAT.  Remember, a VAT is a hidden federal sales tax which will be imposed on that same product and its component parts, every step of the way – from parts suppliers to manufacturers to wholesalers to distributors to retailers, including when it is sold to you and me when the state and local sales taxes are added on top of it all.  It’s a tax on a tax on a tax on a… well, you get the idea.

Bottom line: we’re screwed.  Paying taxes on taxes and compounding them with more taxes is what it VAT all about.  It will be the end of many businesses – not just smoke shops and cigar bars.  It will mean the loss of many jobs, and it will create pricing of products that will put them out of the reach of many consumers – including you and me.

What should we do about it?  Federal legislators are expected to be considering a VAT soon.  We urge all of their constituents – smokers and non-smokers alike – to become knowledgeable about VAT and, indeed, our nation’s entire system of federal and state taxation and let their elected representatives know how they feel. 

Chris McCalla
Legislative Director
International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers

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Proposed Smoking Ban for Alabama Restaurants Deemed ‘Ludicrous’

 

 

Montgomery, Alabama April 21, 2010 – The smoking ban for all Alabama restaurants currently being considered by state representatives is discriminatory, will cost jobs and tax revenues and is unnecessary, says the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association which labeled the legislation as ‘ludicrous.’.

Senate Bill 541, which proposes to ban smoking in all restaurants throughout the state, passed the Alabama Senate last week, is currently being reviewed by the House and is expected to be voted on during the last night of the session on April 22.

“This is perhaps the most ludicrous piece of legislation any state legislature could waste its efforts on during these troubling economic phase in our history,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR, a not-for-profit organization that represents some 2,000 tobacconists and small business owners throughout the United States.

McCalla went on to explain his position.

“First, when government takes away from restaurant owners their right to decide how to run their business, it is exceeding its authority and acting unconstitutionally.  It is attacking the rights of smokers and non-smokers, alike.  Second, 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.  Third, safe levels of secondhand smoke have been set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and they are 25,000 safer than air quality levels normally found in bars and restaurants that allow smoking.”

According to McCalla, many of the IPCPR’s retail members sell their premium tobacco products to restaurants who, in turn, sell them to their customers.  To ban smoking in restaurants throughout the state will severely reduce these sales which will translate into reduced excise, sales, and business income tax revenues for the state of Alabama, he said.

“And the saddest part of all of this is that it is so unnecessary,” McCalla said.  “Secondhand smoke air quality testing by groups like Johns Hopkins and the American Cancer Society shows that health claims are greatly exaggerated and that secondhand smoke levels in restaurants are up to 25,000 times safer than OSHA workplace air quality regulations.  Additionally, it has been proven that the effect of legislated smoking bans is near fatal to businesses, jobs, and our economy as a whole.”

McCalla urged Alabama voters to contact their representatives and urge them to vote against the unnecessary smoking ban and for legislation that would save jobs and promote business statewide.

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Proposed Kansas Tobacco Tax Increases Will Backfire, says Premium Cigar Association

 

 

Topeka, Kansas  April 20, 2010 – When Kansas lawmakers reconvene April 28, they will be asked to help tackle a projected $467 million shortfall in the state budget with Senate Bill 516 which proposes a hike in Kansas tobacco taxes, a move that will badly backfire, predicts the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

Anti-smoking and other well-heeled tobaccophobic groups are pressuring legislators to more than double the cigarette tax – from $.79 per pack to $1.79 - while raising taxes on other tobacco products like premium cigars and pipe tobacco up to 300 percent. 

The groups are running an expensive newspaper and radio campaign against the efforts of IPCPR, a not-for-profit group representing small businesses such as mom-and-pop tobacco stores and smoke shops.  Part of the prohibitionists’ pitch in seven newspapers and 26 radio stations across the state says the higher tobacco taxes will cut smoking among adults and discourage young people from smoking.

“Everyone knows that increased taxes on tobacco products result in lower tax revenues, not higher, because they encourage illegal sales of bootlegged tobacco products.  People also cross borders and use the Internet to purchase their tobacco products which eliminates all tobacco taxes from the state’s coffers,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

“Increased tobacco taxes are wrong for the times and wrong for Kansas,” he said. 

McCalla said principal arguments being offered in support of higher tobacco taxes are ill-founded and will backfire. He urged the public to contact members of the Kansas Senate Committee on Assessment and Taxation and tell them they are against SB516 which they are currently reviewing.

“Such taxes never produce the kinds of new revenues that they are projected to raise.  They actually cost the state revenues because people find other, non-taxable ways to get their tobacco, mainly out of state or through illicit avenues.  The state continues to lean on the backs of tobacco – small business owners like our members who are struggling to stay in business.  With the tight economy, our retailers are providing jobs to their employees and paying taxes that the state needs.  To tax them further will only hinder and possible jeopardize their operations,” he said.

McCalla said that the proposed increase in tobacco taxes would hurt the citizens of Kansas, small businesses and would barely make a dent in the state’s deficit.

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

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Grand Opening of Diamond Crown Lounge at Briar Patch Loehmann’s Plaza Apr. 29

 

 

Sacramento, California   April 19, 2010 – Briar Patch at Loehmann’s Plaza, the area’s newest destination location for premium cigar and pipe smokers, will celebrate the grand opening of its exclusive Diamond Crown Lounge on Thursday, April 29.  Loehmann’s Plaza is located at 2529 Fair Oaks Blvd in Sacramento, California.

Owner Ron Michelson is staging the upscale event from 6:00 pm until 9:00 pm featuring appetizers from Morton’s Steakhouse, wine poured by David Cole from the James David Winery, and Peter Kagstrom on the piano.  Tickets to the event may be obtained for $24.95 per person at the Loehmann’s Plaza Briar Patch as well as the Briar Patch Smoke Shop in Sacramento’s Arden Fair Mall at 1689 Arden Way.

Bobby Newman, Executive Vice President of JC Newman Cigars, makers of Diamond Crown Cigars and U.S. distributors of Arturo Fuente Cigars, is hosting the event.  Guests must be 21 years of age or older to attend.  Each will receive a Diamond Crown Maximus Churchill cigar and a Diamond Crown Pyramid #7 cigar valued together at $44. 

Special discounts on all boxes of Diamond Crown Cigars will be available plus a Diamond Crown leather cigar case loaded with three Diamond Crown cigars.  Items to be raffled to box purchasers include a Diamond Crown humidor, Diamond Crown tee shirts and a six month membership to the Briar Patch’s Diamond Crown Lounge.

Membership in the Diamond Crown Lounge is available in a variety of packages - each with various benefits and privileges.  The 1,000 sq. ft. lounge within the 2,300 sq. ft. smoke shop includes comfortable leather chairs, 62-in. HDTV, cable, Blue Ray DVD, piano, game table, high speed WiFi, ice maker, honor system drinks and more.

Briar Patch Smoke Shops feature the largest inventories of premium cigars, pipes, pipe tobaccos and accessories in the area.  The Loehmann’s Plaza location boasts the largest cigar humidor in Sacramento.

“At both Briar Patch Smoke Shops and particularly at our new Diamond Crown Lounge in our Loehmann’s Plaza location, we have created an environment aimed at fostering leisurely pleasures where good friends and great cigars and pipes can come together,” Michelson said.

For more information about Briar Patch, go to www.briarpatch.biz.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Michael Herklots’ Annual Birthday Party Fundraiser:
May 3rd & 4th in New York City

New York, NY, April 5, 2010 – Michael Herklots, General Manager of the Davidoff of Geneva flagship stores in New York City, has announced the dates for this year’s annual birthday party fundraiser for Killingly High School’s “Learning for Life Fund”. Normally a one evening affair, this year’s festivities will be divided into two nights. Monday, May 3, 2010, will be a party at The Carnegie Club (156 W. 56th St.) in New York City from 6:00pm until 10:00pm featuring raffles, auctions and premium cigars as well as a few celebrity appearances as always. Past guests have included actors Tony Darrow, Frank Vincent, and Arthur Nascarella and entertainment reporter, Bill McCuddy. This event is open to all who make a donation. On Tuesday, May 4, a private dinner will be hosted at Manhattan’s Grand Havana Room, a private cigar club in the former “Top of the Sixes” space on the 39th Floor of 666 Fifth Avenue. Dinner will include fine wine and cigars as well as a silent and live auction. Tickets may be purchased by calling 212-751-9060.

Every year since 2005 Herklots has hosted a birthday party in New York City as an opportunity to raise money for his high school alma mater, Killingly High School in Danielson, CT (class of 1998). Since its inception, Herklots’ event has raised over $70,000 for the school’s “Learning for Life Fund” through a network of supporters from as far as Argentina, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Nicaragua and throughout North America .

“I’m always humbled at the outpouring of support every year from people who, though they’re not personally connected to this particular cause, continue to fund it with incredible generosity” said Herklots. “Of course once they support it and receive regular correspondence from the school to see just how far their money goes, it becomes personal for them as well.” The School-to-Career program sends regular newsletters to the donors providing updates on the individual achievements of each “career pathway” as well as a financial breakdown on how the money is being used.

Bob Brennan, School-to-Career Coordinator at Killingly High School said, “On behalf of the 15 School-to-Career Pathway Instructors, Support Staff, and the 785 students at Killingly High School we say thank you to each of the 86,400 seconds of today and each day beyond to Michael Herklots and the Learning for Life Fund constituents for their continued financial support to our exemplary model program".

As for this year’s event, according to Herklots, “The current economic situation has been a challenging one, especially for charities but I’m confident this will be a successful year as always, and will no doubt continue to help change the lives of young people in the Killingly Public School System.”

About Michael Herklots: Michael Herklots is General Manager of Davidoff of Geneva’s flagship stores in New York City. Herklots regularly hosts events and seminars around the country on cigars and travels frequently to the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua. Herklots is a Certified Master Tobacconist by Tobacconist University, a teacher for the American Sommelier Association, and a contributing author for several national publications.

About Killingly High School’s Learning for Life Fund: The “Learning for Life Fund” was created in 2005 in order to raise additional revenue to help supplement the costs of Killingly High School’s award winning “Career Pathways Program”. The monies are used to assist in financing specific projects that cannot be covered by the limited education budget.

Contact Persons: Robert Brennan, Michael Herklots
Contact: Killingly High School
Telephone Number: (860) 779-6663
Fax Number: (860) 774-0846
Email: rbrennan@killinglyschools.org, michaelherklots@gmail.com
URL: http://www.killinglyschools.org/khs/site/default.asp

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‘CIGAR AUTHORITY’ TO APPEAR WEEKLY ON A COMPUTER NEAR YOU

 

Salem, New Hampshire  April 1, 2010 – The Cigar Authority, a new Internet broadcast featuring premium cigars, accessories and lifestyle programming, launches Saturday, April 3 at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time at www.TheCigarAuthority.com. The first show will be broadcast from Two Guys Smoke Shop at 304 South Broadway in Salem, New Hampshire. 

The live, weekly two-hour video program is believed to be the first of its kind focusing on premium cigars, their related accessories and lifestyle.  Every Saturday morning, a team of knowledgeable and affable co-hosts who are experts in their respective fields will smoke, talk about and judge premium cigars, cigar accessories and the finer things in life

“We may partake in fine wines and great foods as well as premium, hand made cigars,” said Tommy Grella, former Food Network TV chef, financial planner and cigar junkie who is one of The Cigar Authority co-hosts.  Grella said the fast-paced program will include guests, phone-ins, contests, giveaways, information and fun.

Night club comedian and cigar smoking funny guy Johnny Joyce also will be on the panel.  Joyce will help keep things moving along while sharpening his cigar smoking skills at the same time. 

David Garofalo, owner of three Two Guys Smoke Shop retail cigar stores in New Hampshire will provide his 25-years of tobacco expertise to the program which will be broadcast live from one of his shops each week in full view of all who come in to the store.

On the control board running the show is Mr. Jonathan, an entertainer, director, and professional DJ who will manage the show’s production and chime in as a seasoned cigar smoker himself. 

Re-runs on the weekly show and information about upcoming programs will be available on The Cigar Authority web site at www.TheCigarAuthority.com.

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Unrecognized Guid format.Two Guys Celebrates Silver Anniversary with Silver Bars and Silver Spur

Salem, New Hampshire  March 26, 2010  - Two Guys Smoke Shop of Salem, Nashua, and Seabrook, New Hampshire will celebrate its 25th anniversary on September 22 by giving away 250 silver bars and a Rolls Royce Silver Spur.  Tickets for the event go on sale May 1.

Two Guys has become known for its elaborate anniversary events which have included everything from giving away motorcycles, a Hummer H2 automobile, elaborate trips and cash.  They’ve hosted game show presentations and put together a mixed martial arts event.  They even gave away a tanker truck of 10,000 gallons of gasoline during the gas crunch. 

This year’s event is expected to top them all, according to owner and Two Guys’ founder, Dave Garofalo.  That’s when Two Guys will give away 250 solid silver bars minted especially for the occasion.  They’re also giving away Garofalo’s personal classic Rolls Royce Silver Spur automobile.

“With all the talk about the value of the U.S. dollar dropping and the safety, security and popularity of pure silver, we thought 250 solid silver bars and my luxurious Rolls Royce Silver Spur would put this event over the top,” he said.

When the doors open at 6:00 p.m. on September 22 at DiBurro’s Function Facility in Ward Hill, Massachusetts, some 400 guests will be participating in what is believed to be the biggest, most prestigious, prize-filled and fun-laden event of its kind ever staged by a retail cigar business.

This Silver Anniversary cigar event will include a five course dinner, 25 premium cigars per person, music, comedy, meet-and-greets with the biggest names in the world of hand-crafted cigars and a wide variety of door prizes including the 250 solid silver bars and Garofalo’s personal, white Rolls-Royce Silver Spur automobile.

The bars, freshly minted by the Sunshine Mint in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, are solid .999 fine silver proofs that will showcase Two Guys Smoke Shop’s 25th Anniversary seal on the obverse and 25 featured premium cigar brand logos on the reverse to immortalize the event. 

“The 25 selected cigar brands will be showcased on the mirror-like finish of the silver bars and every guest will receive a cigar from each of them.  Each guest will have the chance of winning one the evening’s door prizes which will include the Rolls Royce Silver Spur and the 250 silver bars,” according to Garofalo.     

Major cigar celebrities expected to attend include Christian Eiora (Camacho Cigars); Nick Perdomo (Perdomo Cigars); Alan Rubin (Alec Bradley Cigars); Jonathan Drew (Drew Estates); Rocky Patel; Eric Newman (J.C. Newman); Litto Gomez (La Flor Dominicana); Carlito Fuente (Fuente Fuente Opus X); Joe Chiusano (Cusano Cigars); and Jorge Padron (Padron Cigars), to name a few. 

“The excitement, camaraderie and sheer value of the event this year will be even greater than years past.  It’s always the hottest ticket in town,” Garofalo boasts.

Tickets cost $200 each and go on sale at 10:00 a.m. May 1 at all Two Guys Smoke Shop locations.  Tickets are also available by calling Two Guys’ mail-order department at 888-2-CIGAR-2 or online at www.2GuysSmokeShop.com.

Two Guys Smoke Shop locations are at 304 South Broadway in Salem NH; 15 Spit Brook Road in Nashua NH; and 741 Lafayette Road in Seabrook, NH.

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Unrecognized Guid format.Premium Cigar Association Lauds Indiana Legislature

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana  March 17, 2010 – The Indiana General Assembly adjourned last week before acting on a proposed statewide smoking ban that would have cost the state untold jobs and tax revenues, said the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

This session’s rejected smoking ban was the fourth bid by Rep. Charlie Brown of Gary, Indiana to ban smoking in all public places except casinos and horse tracks.

“Our Indiana association members and their customers had a lot to do with effectively defeating this proposed legislation,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.  “They contacted their state representatives and senators in opposition to the bill because it was discriminatory, unnecessary and it would have cost jobs and tax revenues.”

 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.

McCalla also said a smoking ban that includes cigar stores, smoke shops and cigar bars would have a ruinous effect on those family-owned neighborhood businesses.

“The General Assembly did the right thing at the right time for the state of Indiana and for that we are grateful. If the issue is raised again in the future, however, we will be ready once again to defend our rights and the rights of all the state’s citizens and help defeat any such bills,” McCalla said.

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Unrecognized Guid format.Premium Cigar Association Opposes Proposed Indiana Smoking Ban

 

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana  March 5, 2010 – Rep. Charlie Brown just doesn’t get it.  Legislated smoking bans are not only unnecessary, they are an affront to the personal rights of smokers and non-smokers, alike, and they cost tax revenues and jobs and result in more failed businesses, says the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

Brown keeps introducing bills like a current amendment to Senate Bill 175 that bans smoking in all public places except casinos and horse tracks.  He has been voted down repeatedly in the past without serious consideration.  This time, the bill – complete with Brown’s amendment - is headed for debate in a conference committee hearing scheduled for next week.

Chris McCalla, legislative director for the IPCPR, called Brown “misguided and misinformed.”

“Rep. Brown is wrong when he says there is a ‘dire need’ to protect Indiana’s citizens from secondhand smoke.  Study after study exists that prove secondhand smoke is not harmful.  Even the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says so.  OSHA has established safe levels for secondhand smoke that are 25,000 times safer than air quality in most bars and restaurants,” said McCalla.

McCalla said it is the right of every business owner to declare their businesses smoke-free or not. 

“It is not up to government to make that decision,” he declared. “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.

McCalla also said a smoking ban that includes cigar stores, smoke shops and cigar bars would have a ruinous effect on those family-owned neighborhood businesses.

“Twenty-six percent of Hoosier adults smoke,” said McCalla.  “That may not be a majority of Indiana voters, but it’s more than enough to make a difference come election time.  Legislators need to remember that.”

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Unrecognized Guid format.Proposed Kansas Tobacco Tax Increases Not Funny, Says Premium Cigar Association

Topeka, Kansas  March 5, 2010 – It may sound like the theme of a Jim Carrey comedy – First, we ban smoking, then we raise tobacco taxes – but members of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association in Kansas aren’t finding this ironic potential scenario very funny.

Last month, the Kansas legislature passed and Gov. Mark Parkinson signed a comprehensive ban against smoking in restaurants, bars and most workplaces.  Now, with the governor’s support, some state lawmakers are poised to increase taxes on most tobacco products from 10 percent to 40 percent.  The Senate Committee on Assessment and Taxation will hear public testimony for SB516 on Wednesday, March 10.  Several IPCPR members plan to testify against the bill.

“It would be funny if it weren’t so serious.  Two wrongs don’t make a right,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

“Legislated smoking bans violate the personal rights of everyone – smokers and non-smokers, alike - and everyone knows that increased taxes on tobacco products result in lower tax revenues because they encourage illegal sales of bootlegged tobacco products.  People also cross borders and use the Internet to purchase their tobacco products which eliminates all tobacco taxes from the state’s coffers,” said McCalla.

 “All legislated smoking bans should be abolished, and a tobacco tax increase is wrong for the times and wrong for Kansas,” said McCalla.  His organization is a not-for-profit group of more than 2,000 cigar store owners and manufacturers and distributors of premium cigars and pipe tobacco.

McCalla said most IPCPR members are owners of small, mom-and-pop operations that pay taxes and employ local people.  Legislated smoking bans and higher tobacco taxes, he said, result in lower sales of premium cigars, pipe tobacco and other tobacco products which, in turn, reduce tax revenues for the state and, more importantly, result in lost jobs and failed businesses.

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

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Unrecognized Guid format.CORRECTION: Premium Cigar Association Teams with Americans for Tax Reform against Georgia Legislators

 

 

CORRECTION  Atlanta, Georgia March 8, 2010 – The Georgia House of Representatives is moving to increase state excise taxes on cigarettes by 270 percent and pipe and smokeless tobacco by 150 percent that the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association and Americans for Tax Reform are having none of.

House Bill 39 aims to increase state cigarette taxes from the current $.37 per pack to $1.37 per pack and state taxes on loose and smokeless tobacco would go up 150 percent from 10 percent of wholesale value to 25 percent of wholesale cost.

In a letter to Georgia House and Senate Taxpayer Protection Pledge signers, the ATR said, “A vote in favor of this tax hike would be a violation of the… commitment you made to your constituents to oppose any and all tax increases.”

The letter also pointed out that Georgia’s nearby states have an average cigarette tax of $.36 per pack.  If the tax hike is passed, Georgians will have to pay $1.37 in state taxes per pack, nearly quadruple that of their neighbors.  In a similar situation, Maryland raised the state’s tobacco tax last year to cover a projected budget shortfall.  However, the problem was only made worse when tobacco sales fell 25% after consumers drove to nearby states with lower tax rates to make their tobacco purchases.

Chris McCalla, legislative director of the Columbus, Georgia-based IPCPR, agreed with the ATR’s position that, “It is critical to revitalize Georgia’s economy with tax cuts, not tax increases. We must lift the burden of larger government from the backs of hardworking taxpayers and consumers instead of further depressing economic activity.”

Although premium cigars are not included in the proposed tax hike, McCalla said the IPCPR’s position was preemptive and aimed at attempting to protect the long-range business interests of its members and the rights of Georgia consumers.

McCalla recounted a story told to him by Brett Chastain, owner of the Sweetbriar Smoke Shop in Columbus, Georgia. Chastain’s location serves the Ft. Benning area and many of his pipe tobacco customers are retired military on fixed income.

“These people, our heroes, are very sensitive to tax increases. The proposed state tax increase on pipe tobacco would further exacerbate the pricing issues brought on earlier this year by a 158 percent increase in the federal tax on pipe tobacco.  It went from $1.10 per pound to $2.83 per pound. And Georgia wants to add to that an increase of 150 percent in state taxes? What are they thinking?” McCalla asked.

Editor’s Note:  Some statistical information was inaccurate in the original version and has been corrected in this version.

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Unrecognized Guid format.Premium Cigar Group Labels Columbia Study as Corrupt Misuse of Junk Science

 

Columbus, Georgia  March 3, 2010 -- Conclusions made by a new study of cigar and pipe smoking by researchers at the Columbia University Medical Center are not supported by the study’s findings, says the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association, a not-for-profit group of premium cigar retailers and manufacturers. 

 

The study, published last month in the Annals of Internal Medicine, was funded primarily by grants from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Institutes of Health.  The study concludes that “physicians should… counsel cessation of pipe and cigar smoking….”  

“Nothing in the study justifies this erroneous conclusion.  It is prejudicial and preconceived, thereby justifying the labeling of the survey as being a corrupt misuse of junk science,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR which is comprised largely of some 2,000 neighborhood mom-and-pop retail stores and family-owned manufacturers of premium cigars, pipes, tobacco and related accoutrements.

McCalla cited several features of the study that he said support his group’s position:

  1. Of 3,528 participants in the study, only 58 had ever smoked cigars or pipes and not cigarettes, and only 428 had smoked pipes or cigars along with cigarettes.
  2. Only 47 of the subjects were current cigar smokers, of which only 16 were current cigar smokers who had never smoked cigarettes.
  3. Of the cigar smokers, 95 percent were male, but only 34 percent of non-smokers were men.
  4. There was no effort in the study to determine the type of cigar smoked – machine-made or premium, hand-made cigars.
  5. The study showed no clinical effect on lung function in cigar smokers.
  6. There were no differences in airflow obstruction between cigar smokers and non-smokers.
  7. Cotinine levels (a form of nicotine) were similar in cigar smokers and non-smokers.

“The study found no clinical differences between cigar smokers and non-smokers and to draw conclusions to the contrary is to participate in a conspiracy of public disinformation and deception,” McCalla said.

http://www.annals.org/content/152/4/201.abstract?aimhp

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Unrecognized Guid format.Premium Cigar Association Questions Missouri Smoking Ban Proposal

St. Louis, Missouri  February 26, 2010 – With Missouri’s unemployment rate hovering around 10 percent, the state’s legislators have taken their eyes off job creation as a priority and are pandering to powerful neo-prohibitionists and anti-tobacco interests instead, said the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

Statewide smoking bans have been proposed in the Missouri Senate and House of Representatives that would prohibit smoking in restaurant, bars, shopping malls, gambling facilities and other public places.  The House bill was crafted by the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society, two organizations that receive millions of dollars from companies that produce nicotine replacement products.

“Jobs are lost and businesses suffer as a result of legislated smoking bans, and a statewide ban would further add to Missouri’s labor miseries,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

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,” he said.

“The marketplace is deciding what businesses should allow smoking or not, and that’s the way it should be.  Government shouldn’t be taking away the rights of business owners to run their enterprises as the market dictates, not big government.  There are plenty of restaurants and other businesses that already have declared themselves smoke-free, so there’s no need to take away the rights of other business owners by forcing them to ban smoking on their premises,” McCalla said.

“For those questioning overstated claims regarding the health aspects of incidental secondhand smoke, I would refer them to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  OSHA has set acceptable levels for secondhand smoke up to 25,000 safer than normally found in restaurants and bars,” he added.

McCalla explained that the IPCPR is a group of some 2,000 retailers, manufacturers and distributors of premium cigars, pipes and related items, most of whom are mom-and-pop operators – small business owners whose neighborhood businesses serve their respective communities.   

“We do not represent ‘big tobacco.’ Our members have every right to sell their legal products to adults and their customers should have every right to enjoy those products on premise and off where permitted by business owners, not by legislated decrees.  The legislature should be spending their time creating jobs, not sacrificing them to special interest groups,” McCalla said.

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Unrecognized Guid format.Utah Legislators Ill-advised in Moves Against Tobacco, Says Premium Cigar Association

Salt Lake City, Utah February 25, 2010 – The efforts of some Utah state legislators to out-do one another in their efforts to ban and tax legal tobacco products work against each other and are going to backfire, says the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

“These kinds of proposals are ill-advised and should be dumped as bad ideas,” according to Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR which maintains that business owners should be left to decide for themselves to ban or not to ban and that Governor Gary R. Herbert has promised “no new taxes of any kind.”

“Increased tobacco taxes would bring a burden of higher costs and broken promises to nearly 10 percent of the Utah adult population that smokes, most of whom will simply buy their tobacco online or out of state to avoid paying these new taxes,” according to McCalla.

“Not all tobacco products are the same. Premium cigars and pipes are different from, say, cigarettes in that they are discretionary products enjoyed only occasionally like a fine wine or single-malt scotch. As a result, they should be taxed differently.”

McCalla suggested that the current 35 percent excise tax on tobacco products other than cigarettes could be replaced by a 50 cent tax cap per hand-made cigar. He said such a tax is generating positive results in five other states, including Oregon, Washington, Rhode Island, Iowa and Wisconsin.

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

McCalla said most IPCPR members are owners of small, mom-and-pop operations that pay taxes and employ local people. Legislated smoking bans, he said, result in lower sales of premium cigars, pipe tobacco and other tobacco products which reduce 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.

The public is being scammed by what McCalla called “neo-prohibitionists and tobaccophiles hell-bent on spreading lies to build their own power.”

“The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has, indeed, established safe levels of tobacco smoke and those levels are up to 25,000 higher than normally found in any bar or restaurant,” McCalla pointed out.

Instead, McCalla suggested that the free market continue to set its own rules by having business owners decide whether or not their establishments should be smoke-free.

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Unrecognized Guid format.IPCPR Tobacconists, Pipe Smokers
Celebrate Int’l Pipe Smoking Day, Feb. 20

 

St. Louis, Missouri  February 15, 2010 – St. Louis, Missouri will be a center of the pipe smoking world at noon this Saturday, February 20.

That’s when International Pipe Smoking Day will be celebrated at the 22nd Annual Gateway Area Pipe Show at the Heart of St. Charles Banquet Center.  Local briar lovers will be raising their pipes in a salute to their pipe smoking brothers and sisters around the world as a show of friendship and unity that reaches across all borders, according to the Bob Callaway, spokesperson for the St. Louis Pipe Club, sponsor of the show.

International Pipe Smoking Day was designated by a group on Smokers Forums three years ago as a day on which pipe smokers everywhere could tell their story and educate others about the rich history and traditions of the noble art of pipe smoking. The group dedicated it to the worldwide community of pipe smokers that is bound together by a shared love of pipes, pipe collecting and the social aspect of pipe smoking. They respect informed choice and the responsible adult use of smoking tobacco and envision a world where governments act in good faith and integrity.

"International Pipe Smoking Day provides an opportunity for briar lovers everywhere to stand up and demonstrate with pride that we are still enjoying our pipes despite all the restrictions and increased tobacco taxes that the anti-tobacco forces have imposed on us. They just don't understand the significant benefits that pipe smoking offers," Callaway said.

International Pipe Smoking Day is supported by the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association of some 2,000 retailers of premium tobacco products; the International Committee of Pipe Clubs, which has members in more than 25 countries; and by the United Pipe Clubs of America, with its more than 20 member clubs in the United States.  Many other pipe clubs in this country and abroad also will hold special events on or around February 20 to mark the day.

"Our motto is 'Relax with Your Pipe' and that's the idea we want to get across," says Vernon Vig, President of UPCA which, according to the organization’s website was founded in 2002 to promote and protect the interests of the American pipe smoking community.

"Pipe smokers are mature, considerate adults. We don't want to bother anyone, and all we ask in return is a little common sense and consideration on the part of others," said Vig.

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Unrecognized Guid format.OSHA SETS SAFE LEVELS OF SECONDHAND SMOKE

“There are no safe levels of secondhand smoke in the workplace.”

The next time you hear someone say this, tell the speaker he or she is misinformed, flat out wrong or full of crap, depending on your mood and the occasion.  Tell him or her that there, indeed, are safe levels of secondhand smoke as established by no less an authority than the United States Government.  In fact, it was the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration that set the safe air quality standard for secondhand smoke.

OSHA  has established safe levels (otherwise known as permissible exposure limits or PELs) of secondhand smoke in the workplace and those safe levels are up to 25,000 times higher than are normally found in bars and restaurants.

Let’s take that last statement apart to be sure we understand its component facts.

What’s is a PEL?  PEL stands for permissible exposure limit.  PELs are OSHA safe acceptable levels of exposure to humans for an eight hour day, 40 hours per week time period.  The PEL for nicotine as established by OSHA is .5 mg.

Why measure nicotine?  Why not measure formaldehyde or benzene which are also found in secondhand smoke?  Nicotine is the only unique trace chemical in secondhand smoke.  If you measured for formaldehyde, for example, the carpet and other interior sources of formaldehyde would corrupt the test result.  Besides, formaldehyde is formed naturally in the atmosphere due to photochemical oxidation.  Benzene? Benzene is given off from burning foods in the kitchen or diesel exhaust outdoors so, again, a false reading would be obtained.

Therefore, nicotine is the ideal chemical to measure to determine secondhand smoke concentrations in the air.

Actually, you could measure every airborne chemical in secondhand smoke and compare them to OSHA guidelines for each specific chemical and you would find the results to be the same, if not even more dramatic.

What studies prove air quality standards in the workplace are within the OSHA PEL for secondhand smoke?   There are  many.  For one, Oak Ridge National Laboratory testing confirms that air quality testing of secondhand smoke in bars and restaurants "...concluded that exposures to respirable suspended particulate matter (RSP), for example, were considerably below limits (safer than) established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for the workplace....."

OSHA, itself, says "Field studies of environmental tobacco smoke indicate that under normal conditions, the components in tobacco smoke are diluted below existing Permissible Exposure Levels (PELS) as referenced in the Air Contaminant Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000)...It would be very rare to find a workplace with so much smoking that any individual PEL would be exceeded."

In fact, our claim that ‘OSHA’s safe level of secondhand smoke is up to 25,000 times higher than is normally found in bars and restaurants’ is based primarily on studies by the American Cancer Society.

What the American Cancer Society has proven in conducting air quality testing of secondhand smoke is that secondhand smoke absolutely does not constitute a health hazard justifying a government mandated smoking ban.

The American Cancer Society measured the air quality for secondhand smoke in several venues.  ACS tested by measuring the "marker" chemical in secondhand smoke -nicotine.  The results ranged from 20 -940 nanograms / cu. M.  (A nanogram is 10 (-9) of a gram or 0.000000001 of a gram which is also 0.000001 of a mg (milligram).   OSHA safe level 0.5 mg divided by ACS result 20 nanograms, which is also 0.000020 of a mg. Thus, 0.5 /0.00002 = 25,000 times safer than OSHA regulations.

http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/pel/standards.html

http://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=STANDARDS&p_id=9992

http://cleanairquality.blogspot.com/2009/12/secondhand-smoke-is-not-workplace.html

http://cleanairquality.blogspot.com/2007/04/bmj-published-air-quality-test-results.html

 Provided by International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers

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Unrecognized Guid format.Cigar Store Owners Oppose Massachusetts Governor on Proposal to Increase Tobacco Taxes

Boston, Massachusetts February 1, 2010 – Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick submitted a $28.2 billion state budget for fiscal 2011 last week.  To partially offset the three percent increase over 2010, Patrick’s budget proposal calls for raising the current 30 percent excise tax on cigars and smoking tobacco to 110 percent and 120 percent, respectively.  The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association respectfully disagrees with this strategy.

“It’s outrageous to put the burden of budget management on the backs of cigar smokers.  They ought to be finding jobs instead of creating job-killing new taxes,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

The association represents some 2,000 members, most of whom are small business owners of mom-and-pop neighborhood cigar stores along with premium cigar manufacturers and distributors of related merchandise.  Nearly 40 of those members reside, work and run their businesses in the state of Massachusetts.

McCalla pointed out that studies prove that higher taxes on tobacco products like premium cigars never produce the revenues they were designed to bring in.  In fact, he said, they result in lower sales which cost jobs, closed businesses, and significantly reduce the very tax revenues for which they were originally created.

“When tobacco taxes go up, especially those on discretionary products like premium cigars which are enjoyed only occasionally, consumers will find less expensive sources for their favorite cigars.  They will turn to the Internet and mail order as well as go across state borders or even resort to buying bootlegged products.  That creates a  lose-lose situation: neighborhood cigar retailers lose sales and the state loses all that tax revenue,” said McCalla.

According to McCalla, tobacco taxes are regressive and disproportionately burden lower- and middle-income earners, even among premium cigar smokers.

“Tobacco taxes also tend to be unreliable and unsustainable sources of revenue and don’t result in real budget fixes.  They hurt local businesses and the overall economy.  The unintended consequences for individual states and the American society as a whole can be avoided with application of sound fiscal policies and real budget reforms instead of bad tax policy,” McCalla said.

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Unrecognized Guid format.Mood of America Says No New Taxes in Utah, Reminds Cigar Group

Salt Lake City, Utah January 27, 2010 – As Utah legislators contemplate raising taxes on tobacco products, the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association is reminding them that voters across the board are against new taxes and favor delivery on campaign promises.

Some Utah state representatives and senators are talking about new tobacco taxes even as Governor Gary Herbert has proclaimed that there shall be no new taxes of any kind.  The IPCPR, a non-profit association of some 2,000 retail tobacconists and manufacturers and distributors of premium cigars, pipes, tobaccos and related accessories, called this the kind of “disconnect” that is leading to voter revolts across America.

“Utah voters are among the most savvy in the country,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.  “They know when they are being led down a primrose path intentionally or otherwise by their legislators who say one thing and do another.  And, when legislators do what the voters don’t want done, new, more responsive legislators are elected by those voters.”

McCalla said it was important for Utah legislators to realize that the reasons they have been given by anti-tobacco groups to call for across the board tax increases on all tobacco products reflect the misguided conclusions of poorly informed special interest groups.

“First, the governor said ‘no new taxes of any kind’.  Increased tobacco taxes would bring a burden of higher costs and broken promises to nearly 10 percent of the Utah adult population that smokes, most of whom will simply buy their tobacco online or out of state to avoid paying these new taxes.

“Second, not all tobacco products are the same.  Premium cigars and pipes are different from, say, cigarettes in that they are discretionary products enjoyed only occasionally like a fine wine or single-malt scotch.  As a result, they should be taxed differently.” 

McCalla suggested that the current 35 percent excise tax on tobacco products other than cigarettes could be replaced by a 50 cent tax cap per hand-made cigar. He said such a tax  is generating positive results in five other states, including Oregon, Washington, Rhode Island, Iowa and Wisconsin.

“Third, human behavior can’t be legislated.  Some lawmakers say increased tobacco taxes will prevent youths from smoking. That would be throwing the baby out with the bath water.  Our IPCPR retail members are adamantly diligent about selling their products only to age-appropriate adult customers.  For other retailers, there are plenty of laws on the books that, enforced properly, will accomplish that same objective. Besides, those neo-prohibitionists who make unsubstantiated claims of youth smoking are basing their estimates on overly vivid imaginations.”

McCalla urged Utah legislators to drop their consideration of “job-killing higher tobacco taxes that will actually result in lower tax revenues because people will find ways to avoid paying those new taxes.”

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Unrecognized Guid format.Cigar Store Owners Express Concern Over Proposed Statewide Smoking Bans

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana  January 22, 2010 – Three bills aimed at banning smoking throughout Indiana are causing concern to members of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association because smoking bans put their businesses and thousands of jobs at stake as well as millions of dollars in tax revenues.

The two bills introduced in the state Senate – SB233 and SB95 – ban smoking in most public places and places of employment.  Both bills exempt retail tobacco shops.  The bill in the House – HB1131 – is similar to the Senate versions but does not exempt retail tobacco shops. None of the bills exempts cigar bars.

“Citizens of Indiana – smokers and non-smokers – should be incensed over their legislators wasting time with frivolous and job-killing issues like smoking bans,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR, a non-profit association of more than 2,000 small business owners that include of cigar store owners and manufacturers and distributors of premium cigars, pipes, tobaccos and related accessories.

McCalla reminded the legislators that the federal government recently increased excise taxes on tobacco in order to fund health insurance for children and that any smoking ban would lead to decreased funding for that program, commonly known as SCHIP.

“These bills – especially the House version - are blatantly hurtful to Indiana’s economy.  Instead, legislators should be finding ways to create more jobs, raise more tax revenues through stimulated sales, and boost our economy instead of tearing it down,” he said.

McCalla pointed out that there is no study showing that patrons or employees are harmed by exposure to the low levels of smoke found in bars and restaurants.  As to some people being annoyed by others’ smoking, any facility with decent modern ventilation and filtration systems would avoid that issue, he said.

“We strongly urge Indiana state legislators to defeat these bills because legislated smoking bans have proven to negatively and needlessly impact jobs and the economy according to the Federal Reserve Bank based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Legislated smoking bans also unnecessarily strip away the individual rights of business owners, their employees and customers,” McCalla said.

McCalla said more businesses than ever are declaring themselves smoke-free, based on customer preference and that legislated smoking bans run contrary to the individual rights upon which the United States was built.

“Business owners have the right to decide whether or not to allow smoking on their premises.  No one is forcing employees or patrons to go into a place of business where smoking is allowed if they don’t want to.  Let the market decide, not government legislators.  These are not times to be putting more businesses in jeopardy,” he said.

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Unrecognized Guid format.Premium Cigar Association Supports D.C. Council Smoking Ban Proposal…Almost

Washington, D.C. January 20, 2010 – The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association has come out in support of proposed Washington D. C. Council legislation to reduce under-aged smoking and against the same piece of legislation that would impact smokers’ rights outside businesses.

The proposal would assess new penalties on under-aged youth for purchasing or possessing tobacco products. At the same time, the bill allows shop owners to post no-smoking signs in front of their establishments to include 25 feet of their front door or from the sidewalk.

“As owners of premium cigar stores, we have very few people coming into our stores who are underaged and, if they try to make a purchase, they are carded without exception. So the part of the legislation regarding underaged youth and tobacco is not a problem for us, unlike the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids which, ironically, opposes this aspect of the legislation,” said Chris McCalla, Legislative Director of the IPCPR. “It’s the other part of the legislation that bothers us– no smoking outside of buildings – even though it contains no enforcement provisions.” 

McCalla pointed out that the vast majority of premium cigar and pipe smokers are courteous and mindful of people around them when they are smoking. However, he said, legislated smoking bans of any kind are anathema to the group and its individual members.

“Anyone who says there are no safe levels of secondhand smoke, including that which is found outdoors, is totally misinformed. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has set safe standards for secondhand smoke. Those OSHA standards are 25,000 times higher than air quality levels found in restaurants and bars. So, whatever wisps of smoke may occasionally waft into a building cannot possibly be unsafe, according to OSHA,” McCalla said.

Referencing those people who cite the Surgeon General’s report regarding the alleged adverse health effects of secondhand smoke, McCalla said: “There is absolutely no evidence presented in the report that supports this claim. These misinformed people have been brainwashed by neo-prohibitionists and tobaccophobes into believing otherwise,” he said.

“If store owners don’t want smoking in their places of business, they have the right to declare their property smoke-free. And if these property owners don’t want people to smoke outside of their places of business, they have the right to ask people not to smoke there. We support that. But enacting legislation that gives the government authority over these individual property rights we do not support,” he said.

“Not only is it not justified from a medical standpoint, it is not a justified deprivation of our personal rights from a  . Next thing you know, the government will be running our nation’s auto companies, financial institutions and the entire health industry – or trying to.”

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Unrecognized Guid format.Proposed Washington State Tobacco Tax Increase Causes Committees to Clash

 Olympia, Washington  January 15, 2010 – Two Washington state legislative committees were at odds with each other at yesterday’s joint hearing regarding HB2493 aimed at increasing taxes on tobacco products.

The joint hearing was comprised of the House Health Care and Wellness Committee headed by Rep. Eileen Cody of Seattle and the House Finance Committee chaired by Rep. Ross Hunter of Medina.  Hunter is seeking ways to offset an anticipated $2.6 billion state budget shortfall while Cody’s stated goal is to “force people to quit smoking.”

“Those objectives are counter-productive when it comes to increasing taxes on tobacco products – neither happens,” said Joe Arundel, owner of Rain City Cigar Store in Seattle, who testified at yesterday’s meeting. 

“In fact, increased tobacco taxes cause many smokers to find ways around the higher taxes by engaging in illegal activities such as buying bootlegged products or by making their tobacco purchases in neighboring states where taxes are lower, or by purchasing tobacco products by mail-order or over the Internet.  The result is the same: no tax revenues for the state of Washington and a loss of jobs and businesses within the state,” Arundel said.

Arundel is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.  The IPCPR is a non-profit organization comprised of some 2,000 primarily small, mom-and-pop businesses that retail, manufacture or distribute premium cigars, pipes, tobacco and related accoutrements.

“People who have never enjoyed premium, hand-made cigars or pipes find it difficult to understand how different they are from cigarettes.  Premium cigars and pipes make ordinary moments special and special moments extraordinary.  They are indulged in relatively infrequently and are enjoyed for their social value as well as for their taste.  That’s the way it’s been for centuries,” said Arundel.

Representing the Cigar Association of Washington was Dale Taylor who reminded the committees that tax reductions and reasonable tax caps on premium cigars and other tobacco products actually generate revenue increases for state treasuries whereas increased taxes cause those revenues to decline precipitously.

Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR, summarized what he called the principal reasons tobacco taxes should not be raised.

“They are regressive and disproportionately burdensome on lower- and middle-income people. They are an unreliable and unsustainable source of revenue.  They are a discriminatory tax on a minority of the population.  They hurt local businesses and the overall economy, and they encourage cross-border, black market, and Internet purchases,” McCalla said. “And everyone knows that human nature cannot be legislatively controlled,” he added.

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 Cigar Store Owners Say ‘No’ to Kansas Governor’s Proposed Tax Hikes

Topeka, Kansas  January 14, 2010 – Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson’s efforts to increase taxes primarily on lower- and middle-class Kansans should be thwarted, according to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

Parkinson has requested that the state legislature increase taxes on groceries, clothing, tobacco and other consumer goods to help offset the state’s gaping budget shortfall projected to be some $400 million in the fiscal year beginning July, 2010.

“In addition to a substantial increase in tobacco taxes, the governor has asked for a comprehensive statewide smoking ban. So, on one hand he wants people to smoke in order to fund government projects and, on the other hand, he wants people to stop smoking. Neither position makes any sense,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

The IPCPR is a non-profit organization comprised of some 2,000 largely mom-and-pop small businesses engaged in the manufacturing, distributing and retailing of premium cigars, pipes, tobacco and related accoutrements sold in neighborhood cigar stores.

McCalla said tobacco taxes disproportionately burden lower- and middle-income people, that such taxes are an unreliable and unsustainable source of revenue and that, as tobacco taxes increase, sales of tobacco decline.  Couple the increased taxes with a smoking ban and it would only ensure higher unemployment and increased business failures, he added.

“That puts people out of jobs, results in ruined businesses, and prevents state programs from being funded.  On top of higher taxes, he wants a statewide smoking ban which would only hasten the demise of that revenue stream,” he said. “Besides, tobacco taxes are a discriminatory tax on a minority of the population – the 20 percent of adults who smoke.” 

According to published reports cited by McCalla, 20 percent of people who continue to smoke despite tax increases find ways around paying the higher taxes. 

“They use black market, cross-border and Internet purchasing which hurt local businesses and prevent the state from collecting any taxes whatsoever.  They go to neighboring states where tobacco taxes and prices are lower.  They fall victim to crimes of buying bootlegged tobacco products,” McCalla said. “In these ways, non-smokers as well as smokers suffer from the increased taxes.”

McCalla explained that legislated smoking bans are based on misinformation regarding secondhand smoke.

“Some people say there are no safe levels of secondhand smoke.  Not so.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration – OSHA – has established safe levels of secondhand smoke and those safe levels are 25,000 times higher than are found in restaurants and bars,” he said.

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 Tobacconists Join IPCPR Association

Columbus, Georgia  Jan. 12, 2010 – Scores of professional tobacconists throughout the world were accepted as new members of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) in the fourth quarter of 2009.

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.

Members of IPCPR have access to IPCPR resources for market research, trade shows, products, services, communications, scholarships, insurance, participation in community and legislative action programs and more.

Among the new U.S. retail members of IPCPR joining in 4Q09 are:

 Alabama

David Moore, Tobacco Shop, Dothan

Cathy Skinner, S & S Smokeshop, LLC, Glencoe

Claude Payne, Havana Dreaming, Montgomery

George Skipper III, Tacky Jack's Cigar Bar, Orange Beach

 Arkansas 

 

William Bailey, Newsmart Liquor & Tobacco, Little Rock

 California 

 

Robert Attala, 2nd Street Cigar Lounge & Gallery, Inc., Los Angeles

Wasif Ahmed, The Waterfront Smoke Shop, San Francisco

 Florida 

 

Lisset Diego, Havana Exclusive Cigars, LLC, Clearwater Beach

Itzhak Kadosh, IK Yacht Custom Furniture and Accessories, Fort Lauderdale

Abraham Ramirez, La Herencia de Cuba, Tampa

D. C. Goutoufas, Gaspar's Cigar Shoppe, Tampa

Ed Smith, Cigar Attic, Inc., Valrico

 Georgia 

 

Duane Bosteel, Little River Cigar Co., Canton

Rukia Ali, Got Cigars?, Decatur

Sammy Ismail, S. Tobacco Shop, Lawrenceville

Tonya Hetzel, Winestyles, Marietta

Jason Palmer, Two Guy's Discount Beverage & Tobacco, Vidalia

 Kentucky 

 

Dennis Kenner, Bluegrass Discount Tobacco Outlet, Williamstown

 Louisiana 

 

Maqbool Ibrahim, Jazz 'N' Jazz, New Orleans

 Maryland 

 

Lionel Dommeler, Oakleigh Beach Tobacco, Baltimore

Michael Lohsl, The Chesapeake Cigar Company, Edgewater

 Massachusetts 

 

Kathryn Krock, K. J. Baaron’s Fine Wine & Spirits, Worcester

 Mississippi

 

Douglas Kyser, PJ's Plus, Oxford

 North Carolina

 

Renaldo Franklin, Forbidden Conexion, Charlotte

Adrian Shango, Smoker's Palace, Wilson

 New Hampshire

 

Vernon Adams, Winnipesaukee Cigar Company, Alton Bay

 New Jersey

 

Frank Cavalieri, Boulevard Cigar Shop, Toms River

 Tennessee

 

Robb Hunter, Havana Mix Cigar Emporium, Memphis

 Texas

 

Charles Head, Havana Alley Cigar Shop & Lounge, Galveston

Archie Raines, Cigars of the World, Houston

Joseph Dunham, Cigar Frogs, Midland

Tomas Colon, Kupz Coffee Shop, San Antonio

Gabriel Garcia, Cigar Pointe, LLC, San Antonio

Stacie Stuart, The Humidor, Sherman

 Virginia

 

Robert Miller, City Place Cigars, Lynchburg

Kevin Edmisten, Winston's Humidor, Midlothian

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Michigan Tobacconists Accept Smoking Ban,
Prepare to Battle Increased Taxes

LANSING, Michigan  December 28, 2009 – Michigan smokers will continue to have some public places in which they may smoke after May 1 next year,  following a compromise reached in the legislature. The bill was signed earlier this month by Governor Jennifer Granholm.  Now, organizations such as the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association are preparing for the legislature’s anticipated 2010 proposal to increase tobacco taxes.

The state-legislated smoking ban affects most workplaces such as bars and restaurants.  However, home offices, motor vehicles, cigar bars, Detroit casinos and retail tobacco shops that are in business 30 days before the statue takes effect are exempt.

“We appreciate the exemptions of this bill – especially for retail tobacco shops.  Organizations like ours fought the legislation for years because it is anti-business and it deprives Michigan citizens of their constitutional rights.  The only thing worse would be an onerous tax increase on tobacco products.” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.
 
McCalla’s organization of some 2,000 largely mom-and-pop neighborhood cigar stores now is among those groups preparing for an anticipated attempt in 2010 for the legislature to raise taxes on tobacco products.

“Michigan is hurting for money and we are concerned that the legislature next will go after unreasonably higher tobacco taxes.  Our concern is not only for our business and our consumers – tobacco sales will tumble with higher taxes and so will tax revenues – but also for Michigan’s economy.  The anticipated new and current tobacco tax revenues will dry up even moreso when tobacco users turn to non-taxable Internet and catalog sales for their purchases,” McCalla said.

“The retail members of IPCPR represent the premium cigar and pipe tobacco business.  They are not ‘big tobacco.’ Our members are small businesses that employ local people and pay local, state and federal payroll, sales and other taxes. They serve their respective communities with adult products which include premium, hand-made cigars and pipes.  Their customers enjoy our products just as they would a fine wine or specialty beer. And, if higher taxes don’t blow our businesses out of the water, we plan to do so, even after May 1, 2010,” he said.

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Los Angeles Tobacconists Gear Up for Showdown on Outdoor Smoking

Los Angeles, California  December 22, 2009 – When indoor smoking was legislatively banned in Los Angeles restaurants, many restaurant owners opened outdoor patios in order to survive. Now, according to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association, they face possible extinction as a move to ban outdoor smoking at restaurants picks up traction.

The Los Angeles City Council’s Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee agreed earlier this month to prohibit smoking within 10 feet of restaurant patios, gardens and decks.  Under the proposed ordinance, any space within 30 feet of a food truck also will be defined as an ‘outdoor dining area.’  The measure would not apply to nightclubs and bars that require patrons to be 18 or older.

The Committee is headed by Councilman Tom LaBonge, whose district includes parts of Hollywood, North Hollywood, Silver Lake, and Koreatown. LaBonge has indicated he wants a final council vote on the ordinance before the end of this year.

Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR, said LaBonge was exhibiting signs of a tobaccophobe because he seems to be obsessed with an irrational fear of tobacco.

 “This makes no sense at all.  Councilman LaBonge is being irrational, anti-business, and is depriving all Californians and out-of-state tourists their constitutional rights.  Supporters of this measure have been misled into blindly spreading misinformation about smoking,” he said.

McCalla cited the claim that there is no safe level for secondhand smoke.

“That simply isn’t true. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there are safe levels for secondhand smoke.  In fact, OSHA says they are up to 25,000 times higher than are found in bars and restaurants,” McCalla said.

 “Los Angeles restaurateurs already have been deprived of their right to decide whether or not to go smoke-free in their establishments.  But when the City Council wants to ban outdoor smoking at these restaurants, that’s when we – smokers and non-smokers, alike – must challenge them,” said McCalla.

“The premium cigar and pipe tobacco business is not ‘big tobacco.’ For the most part, our 2,000 members are a collection of mom-and-pop neighborhood businesses that employ local people and pay local, state and federal taxes.  People enjoy our products as they would a fine wine or specialty beer with friends. And we will fight for our right to do so, even on Los Angeles’ restaurant patios,” he said.

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Orlando-based Corona Cigar Company Offers Tiger Woods ‘Smokesperson’ Deal

Orlando, Florida December 18, 2009 – Central Florida’s largest and most exclusive premium cigar retailers is offering a $100,000 endorsement deal to Tiger Woods, bucking a trend set by several of the troubled golfer’s current or former sponsors, including Accenture, Gatorade and Gillette.


“Tiger Woods is the greatest golfer of all time and, although we do not condone his or anyone’s alleged extramarital affairs, nothing pairs better with golf than a premium hand-made cigar,” said Jeff Borysiewicz, president and founder of Corona Cigar Company.


According to Borysiewicz, Woods, whose primary residence is in Windermere, Florida, has frequented Corona Cigar in the past accompanied by his long-time friend Charles Barkley, the National Basketball Association’s former all-pro power forward.


“Who are we to judge? We welcome Tiger to our stores any time and are quite serious about the sponsorship offer,” Borysiewicz said.


There has been no word from Woods regarding Corona Cigar’s proposal.


About Corona Cigar

Corona Cigar Company is a leading premium cigar retailer with three cigar superstores and cigar bars in Central Florida’s Greater Orlando area and online at www.CoronaCigar.com. Including membership in other leading local and national civic, trade and consumer organizations, Corona Cigar is a founding sponsor of Cigar Rights of America (CRA). Jeff Borysiewicz, founder of president of Corona Cigar, is a member of the Board of Directors of CRA and of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR).


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David vs. Goliath: Tobacconists Condemn Irresponsibility of W.H.O. Report on Smoking

Columbus, GA  December 10, 2009 – This week’s report by the World Health Organization regarding global tobacco use drew the ire of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers, a U.S. based not-for-profit trade association of tobacconists.

The anti-smoking report was issued in Istanbul, Turkey by WHO, a ‘specialized agency’ of the United Nations.  The agency receives more funding from the private sector than it does from the UN.  Private sector funding of WHO includes pharmaceutical interests, including those that manufacture and sell smoking cessation products and benefit from anti-smoking efforts.  WHO does not reveal its funding sources on its website.

“The WHO report is totally without credibility and is filled with wild, unsupportable claims,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR which represents  some 2,000 small businesses that make, distribute or sell premium cigars, pipes, premium tobacco and related accoutrements.

“For us to take on WHO is like David taking on Goliath.  We’re not ‘big tobacco’ and our mom-and-pop retail members are just small businesses selling legal products that adults enjoy like fine wine or top-shelf Scotch whiskey,” McCalla said,  “but we cannot stand by while WHO makes outlandish and outrageous claims that are an affront to the intelligence of all thinking people,” he said.

McCalla chose not to repeat the controversial WHO claims so as not to give them further coverage.  However, he explained that they had to do with alleged health issues related to smoking and secondhand smoke.

“They say there are no safe levels of secondhand smoke, but the Occupational Safety and Health Administration says otherwise,” McCalla explained.  “OSHA has, indeed, set safe levels for secondhand smoke and those levels are 25,000 times higher than are found in bars and restaurants.”

Among contributors to WHO is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which, despite its support for WHO’s work with preventing and treating malaria, has been criticized by top WHO staffers for not allowing its funding to be more broadly spent. 

“It’s all about money and power.  WHO should stick to its work monitoring and treating infectious diseases. They certainly don’t know what they are talking about with regards to tobacco against which they suffer from terminal biases.  What would you expect from an organization that refuses to hire people who smoke?” said McCalla.

###

Tobacco Retailers Challenge News Reports on Roll-Your-Own, Pipe Tobaccos

Columbus, Georgia – November 18, 2009 – The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association came out swinging today by challenging news reports regarding the labeling switch of some roll-your-own tobacco brands to pipe tobacco by their manufacturers and claims that pipe tobaccos, which have been flavored for more than five centuries, are designed to appeal to minors.

“The anti-smoking forces once again are getting their underwear in a twist by reaching for straws in their attempts to besmirch our mom-and-pop members,” said Gary Pesh, president of the IPCPR.  Pesh also is owner of a chain of retail tobacco stores in Virginia. “We the retailers didn’t make the marketing switch and we never market to or sell any kind of tobacco products to children.”

The Associated Press and other news sources have reported that some small producers have relabeled their RYO products as pipe tobacco to avoid having consumers pay newly increased tobacco taxes at the much higher RYO level.

Among other increases on tobacco products, the new RYO taxes jumped 2,000 percent per pound.  RYO tobacco sales have plummeted while pipe tobacco sales are on the rise.  Pesh believes it is due, in small part, to the label switch but mostly because many consumers who roll their own cigarettes are simply using pipe tobacco, which, because of lower taxes, is less expensive than RYO tobacco.

“The IPCPR is comprised of some 2,000 tobacconists, largely small, neighborhood businesses that maintain very high standards of ethics and professionalism.  We didn’t support these tax increases but, now that they are here, we abide by the letter of the law,” Pesh said.

Pesh is particularly concerned with the well-funded anti-tobacco organizations claiming in the reports that his organization’s membership sells any kind of tobacco products to children, including flavored pipe tobacco.

“Pipe tobacco is marketed strictly to adults – as are all of the tobacco products we sell.  It’s against the law to sell tobacco to minors.  Period.  As for pipe tobacco, it has been infused with a wide range of flavors to enhance and provide variety in its taste and aroma for the adult pipe smoker since the 1500s,” he said.

The new tax increases on tobacco products went into effect earlier this year to fund SCHIP, the government’s expanded children’s health insurance program.

“These tobacco taxes are never going to be enough to pay for SCHIP.  If more people smoked, they might be enough, but we all know that smoking overall is on the decline, largely due to these very same increased taxes.  In a way, the government is throwing out the baby with the bath water by over taxing tobacco,” said Pesh.

As for the news reports, Pesh emphasized that pipe tobacco and RYO tobacco are different products for different uses; that pipe tobacco has been flavored for five hundred years and has never been marketed to children; and that the IPCPR fully supports children’s healthcare but believes it should be funded by sources other than tobacco.

“Taxes aimed at modifying behavior have a way of backfiring.  And the last thing we need is for government to further intrude on our businesses and personal lives,” he said.

###

Proposed Cigar Tax Burns Pennsylvania IPCPR Tobacconists

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania October 5, 2009 – Pennsylvania legislators and Governor Ed Rendell are heading for a showdown with more than 20 percent of the state’s adults who smoke and can vote by aiming to impose a 30 percent tax on cigars and tobacco products, other than cigarettes.  The move would devastate retail tobacconists, cost tax revenue instead of raising it, and encourage illegal smuggling, according to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

Nearly 100 days into an impasse over the state’s budget, Pennsylvania’s Rules Committee last week made substantial departures from a deal made September 18.  Among other changes, the revised proposal adds a 30 percent tax on cigars and smokeless tobacco in an attempt to help close the $3.2 billion tax gap.

“Outrageous!” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.  “These legislators are so desperate to raise tax revenues that they are not thinking clearly; they are grasping at straws and really haven’t thought this through.”

McCalla singled out Rep. Robert Belfanti, D-Northumberland, as an example.  Belfanti is quoted by the media as having said, “We stood firm against big tobacco.”

“Obviously, Rep. Belfanti doesn’t know what he’s talking about.  We are not ‘big tobacco.’  Premium cigars are made primarily by small, family-owned businesses that have been hand-crafting their products for generations.  These premium cigars are then sold by smoke shop owners, largely mom-and-pop operators who employ local citizens, serve their neighbors, and pay federal, state and local sales and payroll taxes. 

“The real losers, however, will be Pennsylvania’s discriminating cigar smokers at all economic levels who enjoy their premium cigars just as they might enjoy a single-malt scotch whiskey or a bottle of good wine,” he said.

More than 70 of IPCPR’s 2,000-plus members are located throughout the state of Pennsylvania. 

“The governor goes around defending the so-called economic progress being made in the U.S. and now he’s supporting an action in his state that has the potential to completely destroy a segment of an industry that has been misunderstood and under siege, despite the facts,” McCalla said.

Heavily taxed tobacco products in other states have encouraged illegal smuggling, McCalla added.

“So, not only would such a tax on cigars potentially cause the loss of businesses, jobs and tax revenues, it would encourage illegal activities which force the state’s legal system to divert its attention from more important matters,” he said. 

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Silo Cigars Celebrates First Anniversary in Farragut, TN Oct. 15

FARRAGUT, Tennessee  October 2, 2009 – Silo Cigars of 10947 Kingston Pike in Farragut, Tennessee will celebrate its first anniversary from 3:00 pm to 8:00 pm on October 15 with a free, multi-faceted event featuring a visit from the legendary premium cigar maker Don ‘Pepin’ Garcia.

Garcia, a master tobacco blender born in Cuba, heads El Rey de los Habanos, Inc. based in Miami.  Also known as Don Pepin Cigars, his firm is a major player in the ‘boutique’ brand arena.  All of the cigars made at his factories are of the Cuban style and are finished with a triple cap. In addition, every box is marked with the date of manufacture, a practice which is beginning to gain favor outside of Cuba, where it has always been done.

Garcia will be accompanied by René, the master roller who taught Garcia to roll cigars. René will be rolling cigars for celebration attendees.

Silo’s partners Paul Warner and Kevin Phillips also plan to have a small-batch bourbon tasting featuring Jim Beam Small Batch, Bakers, Booker’s, Rye 1 and Basil Harden bourbons.  The small batch bourbons are being provided by Farragut Wine & Spirits of Kingston Pike while food for all will be provided by Oskie’s of W. End Ave., both in Farragut.

While Warner and Phillips will be offering discounts on all store goods, the Pepin cigar specials include buy three and get one free banded Pepin cigar.  For the box buyer, Warner is offering a major box discount and a five-pack sampler of Robustos plus a freshly rolled cigar from René, all of which is about a $70 value on free goods to Silo customers.

Throughout the event, raffles will be held for Pepin ashtrays, t-shirts, a Savoy humidor and more.

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Grand Opening of Briar Patch Loehmann’s Plaza Oct. 29

Sacramento, California  October 1, 2009 – Briar Patch, the newest destination location for premium cigar and pipe smokers in California, will celebrate its grand opening on October 29 in Sacramento’s Loehmann’s Plaza on Fair Oaks Boulevard.  Owner Ron Michelson will be staging a major event from 4:00 pm until 9:00 pm featuring Zino brand premium cigars from Davidoff.

The 2,300 square-foot store has been open since August 22 and is already enjoying a brisk business from the area’s upscale clientele including from up to 50 miles away.  Michelson says it is the culmination of a six-year-old dream.  His Briar Patch Smoke Shop in the Arden Fair Mall has been open since 1983.

“We love our store in Arden Fair Mall, and so do our customers.  However, we’re able to offer new customers so much more in our Loehmann’s Plaza store, thanks to its conveniently accessible location, size, design and outfitting,” he said.

 Michelson explained that the new store features one of the largest inventories of premium cigars, pipes, pipe tobaccos and accessories in the area.  The walk-in humidor is more than half the size of the entire Arden Fair Mall store.  Membership lockers are available as are several levels of memberships in the store’s Tobacco Lovers Club Lounge for up to $5,000 for a lifetime membership which includes many special privileges and discounts.

The TLC Lounge is designed for members to enjoy a wide array of amenities including large screen, high definition television; high speed wireless Internet; piano; chess; cards and poker table, and overstuffed leather lounge furniture.

“We believe we have created an environment that fosters leisurely pleasures where good friends and great cigars and pipes can come together,” Michelson said.

The Briar Patch is an authorized Alfred Dunhill dealer and a Davidoff Appointed Merchant as well as an authorized dealer for ST Dupont and Rosenthal.

The Briar Patch carries over 300 different cigars. Cigar brands include Davidoff, Arturo Fuente, Diamond Crown, Padron, Paul Garmarian, Cohiba, Partagas, La Aroma de Cuba, Graycliff, CAO, Macanudo, Griffin, La Aurora, Cuesta Rey, Punch, Dunhill, AVO, Ashton, Don Diego, Hoyo de Monterrey, Perdomo, ST Dupont, Torano, Zino and many others. Pipe tobaccos include nearly 100 of the finest bulk tobaccos available, many of which are Briar Patch’s own blends.

Pipes available at Briar Patch include Alfred Dunhill, Baldo Baldi, Caminetto, Castello, Don Carlos, Ser Jacopo, Bjarne, Ferndown, Former, Joura, Peterson, Savinelli, Tsuge, Design Berlin, Karl Erik, and Wiley.

For more information about Briar Patch, go to www.briarpatch.biz.

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Tickets Available for Cigar 100 at All-Star Speedway Oct. 10

 

Epping, New Hampshire  September 30, 2009 –A limited number of tickets remain available for The Cigar 100 on Saturday, Oct. 10 at the All-Star Speedway in Epping, New Hampshire, sponsored by the Cigar Association of New Hampshire

The featured race –The Cigar 100 – will be 100 laps on the quarter-mile track.  Each car will be represented by one of the participating cigar brands and the winning brand representative will join his driver in the winner’s circle for photos and presentation of the winner’s check.

For a $100 donation to CANH, a patron will receive 20 cigars and access to a giant barbecue during the Pit Party on race day.  Patrons will be able to meet many of the founders and owners of the participating cigar brands as well as the race drivers, themselves.  They will be close enough to the cars to touch them before the race and will be able to take photos and enjoy their premium cigars throughout the day.

The Cigar 100 replaces the ISMA Classic, an annual staple of the International Super Modified Association racing circuit.

The cigar association, which is comprised of New Hampshire members of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association, lobbies for the rights of its members and their customers to sell and enjoy premium cigars throughout the state.  IPCPR members are small, mom-and-pop businesses. They are, for the most part, family owned smokeshops or manufacturers and distributors of premium cigars, pipes and related accoutrements. 

“Irrational smoking bans and tobacco excise taxes have made it more difficult for anyone in the ‘Live Free or Die’ state to enjoy a premium cigar.  They are driving our small businesses into the ground.  That’s why we have chosen sponsorship of this event:  to draw attention to our rights and the rights of our customers,” said Roy Kirby, president of CANH and owner of Two Guys Smoke Shop in Seabrook.

Participating premium cigar and tobacco-related brands include: Alec Bradley, Ashton, Avo, CAO,  Camacho, Cusano, Drew Estates, El Tiante, Hammer & Sickle, HC by Xikar, Heaven, J. Fuego, Kristoff, Oliva, Ortsac, Perdomo, Padron, Punch, Tatuaje, and Villiger.

 “This event will be a win-win situation for the patrons, drivers and the All Star Speedway,” said Eric Kilbane of Castro’s Back Room in Manchester.  “Patrons will get to meet the drivers, cigar makers and others who love cigars while helping CANH to fight for your rights and freedoms at the same time,” added Kurt Kendall of Twins Smoke Shop in Londonderry.

Tickets are available at the following cigar shops: Two Guys Smoke Shop in Salem, Nashua and Seabrook; Castro’s Back Room in Manchester, Concord and Nashua; Twins Smoke Shop in Londonderry and Hooksett; Top Shelf in Dover and Epping; Seacoast Cigars in Seabrook; Blowin’ Smoke in Bedford; and Tobacco Haven in Brookline, New Hampshire.

Patrons must be 18 years or older to attend the event.  Rain dates are October 11 or 12. 

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New York City Considers Extending Smoking Ban to Parks, Beaches

New York, New York  September 16, 2009 – The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association today announced it is joining forces with opponents of the proposal to extend New York City’s smoking ban to include the city’s parks and beaches.

Dr. Thomas A. Farley, New York City’s health commissioner since early June, proposed the broad-reaching ban last week as part of a tobacco-free strategy that would affect more than 1,700 parks, playground and recreational facilities, in addition to the city’s seven beaches and 14 miles of shoreline.  It would also increase local, state and federal taxes on tobacco, and urge businesses to reject financing and sponsorship from the tobacco industry.

“It is clear that Dr. Farley likes to manipulate human behavior and tell people what they can and cannot do.  Now, only a few months into his new job, he’s trying to manage the behavior of smokers and legitimate businesses even beyond the inordinately high levels of control he inherited.  Someone ought to tell him about the constitution and the rights we have as individuals,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

The IPCPR is comprised of some 2,000 members, including owners of retail cigar stores and manufacturers and distributors of premium cigars and related accoutrements.

“Our members are small businesses, mostly mom-and-pop operations that employ thousands of people.  We pay local, state, federal and payroll taxes.  Our customers enjoy premium cigars like most people enjoy fine wine. The more you limit the places you can enjoy a good cigar, the quicker you put us out of business and eliminate all those jobs and the taxes they generate,” McCalla said.

McCalla cited a Federal Reserve study that showed how smoking bans have proven to be economic dampeners. 

“An Illinois smoking ban in casinos saw a decline in casino revenues of 21 percent while neighboring state casinos  – all without smoking bans – had revenues stay flat or make slight gains even during a slowing economy,” he said.

“The myths surrounding secondhand smoke – especially that which one might encounter in an outdoor environment - have played on the ignorance and gullibility of the public.  Even the Surgeon General’s report says the health effects of secondhand smoke are inconclusive.  And that was indoors! 

“To those of you who don’t appreciate the cultured aroma of a fine cigar, what else don’t you like the smell of – wet dogs and cheap perfume?  Are you going to ban them next? ” he asked.

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IPCPR Urges Pennsylvania Lawmakers, Governor to Reduce Spending

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania September 14, 2009 – When a state like Pennsylvania has a budget shortfall, it’s tempting for some to turn to new tobacco taxes to make up the difference. Whatever happened to good old fashioned spending reductions, asks the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

Governor Ed Rendell is proposing to spend $28 billion to $28.2 billion while many in the Pennsylvania legislature are looking at spending $27.5 billion. Both sides agree that there is not enough income to match either figure.

“Both the governor, a Democrat, and the legislators – mostly Republicans - have it wrong,” said Chris McCalla, Legislative director of the IPCPR.

“Imagine if your family decided at the beginning of the year how much money you should spend to be happy and then you tried to figure out how much money you expect to have and how much you will have to beg, borrow or steal to make up the difference. That’s not the way it’s done. Instead, you first look at your anticipated income and then you decide on what you can or should spend it,” said McCalla.

To close the spread between income and expenses, the governor is exploring a wide variety of possible new taxes dealing with cigars and cigarettes, gold buillion, candy and gum, cell phones and others.

“In the end, it is not these things that are taxed, it is the people who are using them.  People pay taxes, things don’t.  So when a politician says he hasn’t raised anyone’s taxes, the people know better and they are becoming more vocal and more upset about having government take their money, spend more than they make, and tell them how to live,” McCalla said.

IPCPR has more than 2,000 members.  They are, for the most part, small, family-owned businesses that manufacture, distribute and sell premium cigars, pipes and related accoutrements. 

“These are small businesses that hire local people and pay local, state and federal taxes.  There are more than 70 members of IPCPR in the state of Pennsylvania.  They have hundreds of employees and pay millions in sales, payroll and excise taxes. 

“Every time there is an increase in taxes on tobacco, prices go up and sales go down.  That means jobs are lost and some businesses will close.  Is that really what we want to do in this economy – put more people out of work and close businesses?” McCalla asked.

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IPCPR Says No to Proposed Topeka Smoking Ban

Topeka, Kansas  September 10, 2009 – With retail tobacco stores slated to be exempted from the proposed Topeka city wide smoking ban, you’d think that an organization of smoke shops would keep quiet and let the debate take its course.  The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association has other ideas.

Topeka city council members plan to act on the ordinance September 29.  They will hear public comment about it at forums on September 21 and 28. 

“We want to go on record opposing this ordinance for many reasons, not the least of which is that the statistics and so-called studies being cited by the pro-smoking ban forces need to be thoroughly vetted for accuracy.  People tend to accept these generally false or misleading claims without challenging them.  For every claim against smoking, secondhand smoke or the positive economic impact of smoking bans, there is at least one survey or scientific study that says otherwise,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of IPCPR.  “For example, even the Federal Reserve Bank says smoking bans can hurt businesses.”

McCalla cited obesity as the nation’s number one health problem, including many of those generally attributed to smoking.  According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control, medical costs associated with obesity have increased from $78 billion in 1998 to $147 billion in 2006.  Two-thirds of adults and some 20 percent of children in the United States are now overweight or obese.

“Does that mean government should prevent fat people from overeating or consuming high calorie foods?  Of course not.  It is not government’s place to tell us how to live or how to run our businesses.  A business owner, not the government, has the right to decide if smoking will be allowed on his premises.  When government interferes with that right, it begins sliding down the slippery slope of constitutional compromise which leads to the continued and growing loss of rights across the board,” said McCalla. “Just look around you to see growing erosion of our rights as United States citizens.”

In addition to proposing to tax food items such as sugary soft drinks, the CDC suggests banning television sets from children’s bedrooms.

“That’s just as intrusive, ridiculous and dangerous as legislative smoking bans.  If you don’t want to be exposed to smoke, don’t go places where you might expect it.  Patronize businesses that don’t permit smoking.  That’s their right… and that’s your right.  But government does not have the right to tell a business that it should or should not ban smoking.  The constitution is on our side on this one,” McCalla said.

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DC Smoke Shops Warn of Proposed Ban on Sales of Single Cigars

Washington, D.C.  September 9, 2009 – Is the day coming when you go into a cigar store and can’t buy a single cigar?  That day could come sooner than anyone might expect, according to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

The Washington D. C. Council has scheduled a public hearing on Bill 18-124, called the “Single Sale of Cigar Products Prohibition Amendment Act of 2009.”  The open ended Bill would ban the sale of individual cigars or cigar products that might be used to introduce marijuana into the human body. The hearing is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on September 29 in the John A. Wilson building at 1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington DC 20004.

“There are cigars, and then there are premium cigars. There is a huge difference between them and we need to educate the Council as to what that difference is because this bill, if enacted, would be devastating to all legitimate cigar stores in the area,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

“The bottom line is that this is bad legislation that won’t do what it is intended to do – stop the use of marijuana.  The only thing it will do is irreparable harm to owners of cigar stores, their employees and loyal customers who enjoy premium cigars.”

The more than 2,000 members of IPCPR sell or manufacture premium cigars and tobacco, pipes and related accoutrements.  McCalla says they are, for the most part, owner-operators of small, family-owned businesses who have employees and pay local, state and federal taxes.

“The premium cigars we offer are all hand-made from natural tobaccos.  Our customers smoke premium cigars like most people enjoy fine wines.  A premium cigar makes ordinary moments special and special moments extraordinary.  To deny anyone that pleasure would be like banning beer because someone uses it as a chaser for, say, a shot of bourbon,” said McCalla

“Legislators keep raising the taxes on premium cigars until they are so expensive people can only buy one or two at a time and now they want to ban the single sale of cigars.  Ridiculous!”

McCalla urged all D.C. citizens – smokers and non-smokers – to speak against the bill at the hearing on September 29 or call 202/724-8000 in advance to talk to the Council of the District of Columbia . More information about the Council may be found online at http://www.dccouncil.washington.dc.us/.

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Rain City Cigar Celebrates America with Cigars for Troops Through 9/11

Seattle, Washington  September 4, 2009 – Rain City Cigar of Seattle, like other members of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association, is remembering September 11 this year by celebrating America and honoring her troops overseas with – what else – premium cigars.

“Along with many cigar stores and manufacturers of cigars – members of the IPCPR -  we have donated premium cigars to our troops overseas in the past.  This year, we have joined with CAO International to remember and celebrate the selfless acts of heroism exhibited by thousands of Americans on September 11, 2001,” said Kirsten Wolfe, store manager.

Between now and September 11, Rain City is joining with premium cigar manufacturer CAO International and will be taking donations of cigars for the troops.  Although they will accept all cigars donated for the troops, for every CAO cigar donated by Rain City customers, CAO International will match it. 

To help commemorate the event, CAO’s West Coast representative Ed Trevino will be at the store from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm on September 11 to discuss the program and raffle off incentives and premiums to encourage donations. 

Active duty military personnel in uniform will receive an additional free cigar.

 “We usually have a promotion every three weeks or so.  When the September promotion came along and happened to fall on the 11th, we decided to focus on celebrating America’s best and a remembrance of our troops,” Wolfe said.

Rain City Cigar is located in historic Georgetown off I-5 at Exit 162, on the corner of Corson and Michigan at 5963 Corson Ave.

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Cigar 100 to Benefit New Hampshire Cigar Shops, Smokers

Epping, New Hampshire  September 3, 2009 -- The Cigar Association of New Hampshire announced today that it is sponsoring The Cigar 100 on Oct. 10, 2009 at the All-Star Speedway in Epping, New Hampshire.  The race replaces the ISMA Classic, an annual staple of the International Super Modified Association racing circuit.

The cigar association, which is comprised of New Hampshire members of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association, lobbies for the rights of its members and their customers to sell and enjoy premium cigars throughout the state.  IPCPR members are small, mom-and-pop businesses. They are, for the most part, family owned smokeshops or manufacturers and distributors of premium cigars, pipes and related accoutrements. 

“Irrational smoking bans and tobacco excise taxes have made it more difficult for anyone in the ‘Live Free or Die’ state to enjoy a premium cigar.  They are driving our small businesses into the ground.  That’s why we have chosen sponsorship of this event:  to draw attention to our rights and the rights of our customers,” said Roy Kirby, president of CANH and owner of Two Guys Smoke Shop in Seabrook.

Participating premium cigar and tobacco-related brands include: Alec Bradley, Ashton, Avo, CAO,  Camacho, Cusano, Drew Estates, El Tiante, Hammer & Sickle, HC by Xikar, Heaven, J. Fuego, Kristoff, Oliva, Ortsac, Perdomo, Padron, Punch, Tatuaje, and Villiger.

Two races will take place on race day. 

In the first race, called “The Race of the New Hampshire Cigar Shops”, each car will be sponsored by one of the CANH members.  The race will be 50 laps.  The winning driver will receive from his car’s sponsor a box of his favorite cigars and the sponsor will have bragging rights until next year’s event. 

The second and featured race –The Cigar 100 – will be 100 laps on the quarter-mile track.  Each car will be represented by one of the participating cigar brands and the winning brand representative will join his driver in the winner’s circle for photos and presentation of the winner’s check.

“This event will be a win-win situation for the patrons, drivers and the All Star Speedway,” said Eric Kilbane of Castro’s Back Room in Manchester.  “Patrons will get to meet the drivers, cigar makers and others who love cigars while helping CANH to fight for your rights and freedoms at the same time,” added Kurt Kendall of Twins Smoke Shop in Londonderry.

For a $100 donation to CANH, a patron will receive 20 cigars and access to a giant barbecue during the Pit Party on race day.  Patrons will be able to meet many of the founders and owners of the participating cigar brands as well as the race drivers, themselves.  They will be close enough to the cars to touch them before the race and will be able to take photos and enjoy their premium cigars throughout the day.

Tickets are available at the following cigar shops: Two Guys Smoke Shop in Salem, Nashua and Seabrook; Castro’s Back Room in Manchester, Concord and Nashua; Twins Smoke Shop in Londonderry and Hooksett; Top Shelf in Dover and Epping; Seacoast Cigars in Seabrook; Blowin’ Smoke in Bedford; and Tobacco Haven in Brookline, New Hampshire.

Patrons must be 18 years or older to attend the event.  Rain dates are October 11 or 12. 

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Cigar factory closes, 500 out of work due to SCHIP increases in tobacco excise taxes.  CNN report:
http://tinyurl.com/cigartax1 

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Cigar Store Owners Support Appeal of Smoking Ban Enforcement Case

COLUMBUS, Ohio  August 22, 2009 – Ohio’s three-year-old smoking ban is costing small businesses big money and jobs.  That’s why the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association is siding with proponents of an appeal of a lawsuit against draconian enforcement of the ban.

In a case before the 10th District Court of Appeals in Franklin County, it is being argued that enforcement of the ban has gone too far when health department inspectors make no allowances for the best efforts of establishment owners to ensure that patrons adhere to the letter as well as spirit of the law.

 “It’s a mess.  Businesses are losing money and jobs in the midst of an economic crisis.  This means the state is losing money, too, but the state’s loss of tax revenues are at least being partially offset by fines collected for alleged smoking ban violations,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director for the IPCPR.

McCalla cited a recent Federal Reserve Bank study of the economic impact of a statewide smoking ban in the state of Illinois.  The study proved that the state lost more than $200 million in tax revenues from nine Illinois casinos directly stemming from the one-year-old ban. They collectively lost some $400 million in revenues while casinos in a neighboring state with no smoking ban had flat revenues for the year.

“And there are more losses where that came from – more lost business income, more lost tax revenues and more lost jobs – because of a smoking ban.  It’s bad enough we have to put up with an economic downturn while legislators look for ways to make things more difficult for small business owners instead of helping them turn the economy around,” said McCalla.

“Not only should there be no such thing as legislated smoking bans, but the Ohio inspectors are slapping fines and citations willy-nilly against businesses that are doing all they can to enforce the law while their customers light up, inadvertently or not,” he added.

McCalla says the IPCPR, an association of some 2,000 small-business owners of retail smoke shops and premium cigar manufacturers and distributors, is not against an individual business owner’s right to ban smoking on their premises.

“When government decides to run those businesses by telling the owners they can’t allow smoking there, it steps across the line of freedoms as established by the constitution.  If you don’t want to be with smokers, don’t go into an establishment that allows smoking. Period,” he said.

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Illinois Casino Tax Revenues Down $200 Million, Thanks to Statewide Smoking Ban

Springfield, Illinois  Aug. 18, 2009 – What could you do with $200 million in tax revenues?  If you were the state of Illinois, you might create 5,000 jobs , each paying $40,000 per year.  That won’t happen, says the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association,  because of tax losses stemming from lower casino revenues directly related to the statewide smoking ban enacted last year.

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis announced recently that a study by two of its economists proved that the statewide smoking ban enacted in January, 2008 by the state of Illinois was the primary reason that its nine casinos lost $400 million in revenues last year.  The 38-page study was reported in the July issue of The Regional Economist and showed that the smoking ban was chiefly responsible for a 22 percent decline in revenues compared to recent years and to the performance of casinos in nearby states.

“And that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director for the IPCPR. “Businesses everywhere are suffering from the economic downturn while those in Illinois have the added impact of this contemptuous legislated smoking ban.  For example, in addition to lower state income, local communities also lost over $12 million in casino tax revenues.”

McCalla criticized anti-smoking organizations for dismissing out of hand the economic impact of legislated smoking bans.

“We have the economists at the Federal Reserve Bank to thank for proving once and for all that legislated smoking bans are bad for the economy.  In times like these – let alone ever – do we really need legislated smoking bans?  Absolutely not!  Legislators should be doing everything they can to create jobs, not destroy them,” he claimed.

IPCPR members are mainly small business owners of mom-and-pop cigar stores and manufacturers and distributors of premium, hand-made cigars, pipes and related accoutrements.  There are more than 2,000 members worldwide with 64 of them in the state of Illinois.

“Casinos aren’t the only businesses to suffer with legislated smoking bans.  And when business goes down, employees are eliminated or the businesses close. That means loss of jobs and loss of tax revenues. Nobody wins. 

“We’re not against individual business owners declaring no smoking on their premises.  It’s their right to do so.   It’s local, state and federal governments that should not interfere with the rights of individuals,” McCalla said.

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Premium Cigar Retailers Oppose New York City Anti-Tobacco Moves

New York City, New York  July 29, 2009 – Despite millions of tax dollars coming to the cash strapped state of New York from the sale of tobacco products annually, New York City is taking actions that will ban the sale of some of those products throughout the city’s five boroughs.  In addition, the city is moving toward posting gruesomely graphic anti-smoking signs at the cash registers of the city’s 12,000 cigarette retailers.

“I’m going to assume that these are well-meaning people, but they are moving down a very slippery slope and do not realize the errors of their ways,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.  The IPCPR is joining the National Association of Tobacco Outlets and the Cigar Association of America to campaign against these actions.

The New York City Council is reviewing Proposed Introduction No. 433A that seeks to ban the sale of flavored cigarettes, flavored cigars, flavored chewing tobacco and other flavored tobacco products. At the same time, the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene wants to put graphic anti-smoking signs at cash registers where cigarettes are displayed, the first such action in the United States.

“They claim that banning the sale of flavored tobaccos is supposed to protect youth from purchasing these products.  Age laws are already in place forbidding the sale of tobacco purchases by youths.  Anyway, most flavored tobacco products have been included in recent federal legislation giving the Federal Drug Administration regulatory power over cigarettes.  There is no reason for New York City to waste time debating whether to assume that authority,” said McCalla

The IPCPR, an association of some 2,000 premium cigar store owners and manufacturers and distributors of premium tobacco products and accoutrements, also argues against the proposed anti-tobacco signage at cash registers because, among other reasons, it is discriminatory against a minority.

“About 20 percent of New York adults smoke, so that makes them a minority and that makes such signage discriminatory.  Maybe they should consider putting signs in the candy sections of stores warning of the dangers of obesity and in the beer and wine sections proclaiming the dangers of alcoholism and drinking and driving. It is a slippery slope, indeed, and smokers and non-smokers alike should be against having the government tell them what to do,” he said.

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Tobacconists Complete Certification Program

Princeton, New Jersey  July 29, 2009 –  More than 40 professional tobacconists from across the country have qualified to become Certified Retail Tobacconists by Tobacconist University, the official curriculum resource of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

Those receiving their CRT accreditation include:

Delaware
Joseph McDonough and Gary A. Griffith of Cigarette City, Inc. in Newark, Delaware;

Georgia
Jim Luftman and Michael J. Cain of Blue Havana II in Alpharetta, Georgia and Allan Buelvas of Smoking Joe’s Cigar Company in Marietta, Georgia;

Illinois
Peter J. Worth of Kaw Kaw’s Cigar Society and Ron Carroll of Iwan Ries & Co, both in Chicago, Illinois;

Maryland
John J. Vanore of Titan Cigar in Gambrills, Maryland; 

Missouri
Kevin L. Baxter, Tim Claytor, Dirick Matteson, Bradley Oldham, and C. Scott Powell with Outlaw Cigar Co in Kansas City, Missouri;

New Jersey
Jorge Armenteros was named Certified Master Tobacconist and the designation of Certified Retail Tobacconist went to Aly A. Badran, Jeffrey A. Davis, R. Sloane Franklin, John T. Richardson and William P. Harvey. All are with A Little Taste of Cuba in Princeton, New Jersey.

Ohio
James C. Wilson of Sandusky Bay Cigars in Sandusky, Ohio;

Pennsylvania
Lee S. Lavinson of Holt’s in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Jonathan Rebmann of Puffs N Stuff in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Kathryn L. Bellando, Nathaniel Chase, Christian R. Fernandez, Dennis E. Guevara and Charles Stockton with A Little Taste of Cuba in New Hope, Pennsylvania;

Texas
Jimmy Edwards and Jose R. Torres, Jr of C.I.G.A.R. in San Antonio, Texas;

Virginia
Kevin Edmiston with Winston’s Humidor in Richmond, Virginia;

Washington, D.C.
Jordan Baines, Andrew Chase, Edward W. Guehm III, Walter Gorski, Yoon Robert Kim, Adam K. Levy, Michael F. Nolan, R. Adam Shepherd, and Zeke M. Williams with Georgetown Tobacco in Washington, D.C.

Selected professional tobacconists are awarded CMT or 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, loose 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.

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 sales, marketing and distribution of premium cigars, pipes, loose tobacco and related items.

www.ipcpr.org

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Premium Cigar Store Owners Unite to Fight Proposed St. Louis County Smoking Ban Vote

Clayton, Missouri  July 24, 2009 – A countywide smoking ban may be on the November ballot if some St. Louis County council members have their way, over the objections of premium cigar store owners, members of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

“We want to go on record as being against this proposed ban and any legislated smoking ban, for that matter.  Government should stay out of private business decisions like this.  If a business owner decides to prevent smoking on the premises, that’s fine.  It’s his individual right to do so.  If government gets involved, pretty soon you’ll have bureaucrats running whole industries like banking and finance, automobile, energy and healthcare,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

St. Louis County council members are expected to continue discussing the issue at their meeting on Tuesday, July 28. Council member Barbara Fraser has proposed putting the issue to a referendum. McCalla makes the point that minorities have rights and smokers are a minority.

“The only thing a smoking ban would do is lead the way in increased unemployment, failed businesses and deprivation of individual rights,” said McCalla.

McCalla says anti-smoking forces often use misinformation and biased research based on junk science provided by organizations that are rarely challenged regarding the source, quality and truth of that research.

“For example, they say there are no safe levels for secondhand smoke.  Not true.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is the federal agency charged with maintaining a healthy and safe work environment.  OSHA has set safe levels for secondhand smoke that are exponentially higher than the air quality found in average restaurants and bars,” he said.

McCalla explained that IPCPR members are, by and large, small, family-owned businesses who make or sell premium, hand-made cigars, pipes and premium loose tobacco and related accouterments and whose businesses comprise less than five percent of tobacco sales. Nearly 40 of the more than 2,000 IPCPR members live and operate businesses in Missouri. 

“Our members pay millions in sales, payroll and excise taxes.  Their neighborhood businesses employ thousands of people.  Not only would these businesses be put at risk, but employment and businesses like restaurants and bars will suffer, as well, when patrons go to smoker-friendly establishments elsewhere.   If smoking is banned – and we certainly are not saying it should be - then fattening foods, drinks and snacks must be banned because obesity is America’s number one health problem,” McCalla said.

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Premium Cigar Association Awards Scholarships to 20 Students Nationwide

Columbus, Georgia July 22, 2009 - Twenty students are attending college this year, each with the help of a $5,000 scholarship from the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association. The IPCPR has awarded $600,000 in scholarships at the rate of 20 per year since 2004. This year’s recipients include the following:

Michael Grantz of 16808 Winding View Tr. in Fisherville is majoring in environmental studies at the University of the South.  Grantz was sponsored for the IPCPR scholarship by Cox’s Smokers Outlet.

Spencer Consolvo of 9153 Estate Thomas in St. Thomas is majoring in economics at Vanderbilt University.  Consolvo was sponsored for the IPCPR scholarship by Shell Seekers, Inc.

Farren Neuhauser of 2070 Washington Lane in Meadowbrook is majoring in linguistics at Temple University.  Neuhauser was sponsored for the IPCPR scholarship by Black Cat Cigar Co.

David Petrich of 1073 Laverne Ave. North in Lake Elmo is majoring in HVAC repair at the Dunwoody College of Technology in Minneapolis.  Petrich was sponsored for the IPCPR scholarship by Perfect Ash.

Casey Gianforte of 109 Hickory Dr. in Downington is majoring in business at the University of Delaware.  Gianforte was sponsored for the IPCPR scholarship by G&G Cigar Company.

Jeffrey Stelly of 162 Quail Circle in Sunset is majoring in business administration at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.  Stelly was sponsored for the IPCPR scholarship by Piper’s Haven.

Alaine Ramsburg of 8233 Sheridan Lane in Eden Prairie is majoring in business management at Gustavus Adolphus College. Ramsburg was sponsored for the IPCPR scholarship by Cigar Jones.

Paul Ostin of 36B  North Howell St. in Hillsdale is majoring in political science and business at Hillsdale College.  Ostin was sponsored for the IPCPR scholarship by David’s Dolce Vita, LLC.

Teresa Marino of 10 Sioux Lane in Ringwood is majoring in elementary education at Neumann College.  She was sponsored for the IPCPR scholarship by Santa Clara, Inc. of Burlington, North Carolina.

Gregory Koebel of 11809 Summer Stream Dr. in Richmond is majoring in industrial and systems engineering at Virginia Tech.  He was sponsored for the IPCPR scholarship by Havana Connections.

Elizabeth Dean of 9874 Wetzel Road is majoring in animal science at Ohio State University.  She was sponsored for the IPCPR scholarship by Boston Stoker, Inc. in Vandalia, Ohio.

Caroline Drinkwater of 4548 Westway in Dallas is majoring in Spanish and business at the University of Texas at Austin.  She was sponsored by Cigar Vault in Dallas.

Courtney Poehler of 2501 Clear Ridge Dr. in Garland is majoring in elementary education at the University of North Texas.  She was sponsored by J.C. Newman Cigar Co. of Tampa, Florida.

Stephen Castro, Jr. of 14721 Carriage Mill Dr. is majoring in business administration at Clemson University.  Castro was sponsored for the IPCPR scholarship by Davidus Cigars.

Jayson Parsons of 613 Corbett Canyon Rd. is majoring in communications at Cuesta College.  Parsons was sponsored for the IPCPR scholarship by The Boss Cigars. 

Kristen Weigers of 906 Bluff Dr. in Round Rock is majoring in biomedical science at Texas A&M University.  Weigers was sponsored for the IPCPR scholarship by Pipe World.

Martin Saitta of 1436 Emerald Hill Way in Valrico Florida is majoring in aerospace engineering at the University of Florida.  Saitta was sponsored by El Sol Cigars.

Daniel Workman of 2220 SW 12th Place in Boca Raton, Florida is majoring in international affairs at George Washington University.  He was sponsored by Altadis USA, Inc.

Anthony Reyes of 4134 Sabal Ridge Circle in Weston, Florida is majoring in finance and management at the University of Central Florida.  He was also sponsored by Altadis USA, Inc.

Andrew Bond of 1321 SE 3rd Avenue of Pompano Beach, Florida is majoring in chemistry and biology at Florida Atlantic University.  He was sponsored by Alec Bradley Cigar Corp.

To be eligible for the scholarship, students must be a spouse, child or employee of an IPCPR member, maintain a grade point average of at least 2.5 and write an essay on a topic supplied by IPCPR. The topic this year asked if the Federal Government should apply excise taxes to high-sugar, high-fat foods as it has with tobacco products.

Founded in 1933, IPCPR is a not-for-profit association of some 2000 members worldwide.  The association is primarily comprised of small, family-owned businesses including cigar store owners and manufacturers and distributors of premium cigars, pipes, fine tobaccos and related accoutrements.

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Premium Cigar Group Concerned for Right to Smoke in Military

Washington, D.C.  July 16, 2009 -- Although the Department of Defense is considering phasing in a ban on tobacco use in the military over as many as 20 years, The Pentagon reassured troops this week that it won’t ban tobacco products in war zones, according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ press secretary Geoff Morrell.  But the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association isn’t taking any chances.

“This comes down to personal choice and the pleasure of enjoying tobacco – especially good cigars and pipe tobacco – and the individual rights for which our military are fighting,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.  His group’s members include more than 2,000 small business owners of smoke shops and manufacturers and distributors of hand-made cigars, pipes and pipe tobacco.  They represent some five percent of the tobacco industry.

“IPCPR members regularly send supplies of hand-made cigars to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to enjoy during their moments of relaxation.  If anyone has earned the right to such pleasures, it’s our troops, especially those in combat,” he said.

McCalla pointed out that most people have had the image of officers smoking cigars but that cigars are enjoyed by all strata of military personnel, not unlike civilians.

“Smoking throughout the ranks is not restricted to one level or another, nor should it be.  Whether they are Generals or privates and airmen, Admirals or seamen, they all have equal rights to enjoy a legal product,” McCalla said.

The IPCPR isn’t waiting 20 years before it begins its fight for the rights of military personnel to enjoy tobacco, he explained.

“We let the anti-tobacco forces get away with spreading a lot of misinformation about smoking and secondhand smoke over the last two decades.  Much of their so-called research is highly questionable and their conclusions are particularly biased.  As a result, smoking bans have spread unfairly.  We’re not going to let that happen by default in the military,” he said.

McCalla emphasized that individual rights are attacked every time there is a legislated smoking ban. 

“Each smoking ban chips away at our individual rights which leads to loss of other rights, whether or not we smoke cigarettes, premium cigars or use other tobacco products.  It’s a right of choice and we are all affected,” he said.

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North Dakota Seeks to Increase Taxation, Control of Tobacco

Bismarck, North Dakota  July 10,2009 – North Dakota is expected to soon join the ranks of governments that are risking the ruination of industries by over taxing and over regulating them, says the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association about the state’s plans to control tobacco use.

Nearly $13 million has been allocated by North Dakota over the next two years to fund a nine-member advisory board that is expected to recommend and lobby for quadrupling the state’s cigarette tax to $2 per pack.  The board also plans to encourage the widespread banning of smoking and other tobacco use in public areas while helping young people to avoid use of tobacco products. 

“We are an association of cigar and premium tobacco shop owners and manufacturers and distributors of premium cigars, pipes and pipe tobacco and related items.  Our more than 2,000 members are small business owners who provide thousands of jobs and pay millions of dollars in federal, state and payroll taxes. They avidly comply with all local, state and federal laws, including those that restrict sales of tobacco products to underaged consumers,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

“Beyond that, citizens of North Dakota and elsewhere are slowly but surely having their rights chipped away by legislated smoking bans and the imposition of outrageous taxes that are primarily designed to control the decisions of its citizens and pay for largely ill-considered programs.  On the other hand, we fully support the rights of business owners to determine whether or not smoking would be allowed in their respective places of business,” he added.

The board is expected to recommend the expansion of legislated smoking bans to include bars and other adult locations.  McCalla says that’s bad business and bad government.

“The Federal Reserve Bank, using Bureau of Labor Statistics data, has proven that legislated smoking bans lead to the loss of jobs, particularly in the entertainment, leisure and restaurant sectors.  And increased taxes are not on the tobacco products; they are on the users of those products who are, for the most part, medium- and low-income adults who don’t need to be paying more taxes and having their jobs put at risk,” said McCalla.

“This is not the time for government to be taking actions that could lead to job losses and higher product costs.  Besides, personal decisions should be left to individuals.  We don’t need the government – federal, state or local - to be running our lives.”

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A Modest Proposal:  Mandatory Deposit for San Francisco Butts

SAN FRANCISCO, California  July 9, 2009 – Question: When is a cigarette tax not a tax?  Answer: When the city of San Francisco calls it a “fee” to pick up cigarette butts, instead.  Local cigar store owners have a better idea.

The city’s Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a scheme this week to add a 20-cent ‘fee’ onto a pack of cigarettes effective Oct. 1.  Why not call it a tax?  Because, if it were called a tax, it would be illegal.  State law says cities cannot tax cigarettes.  So, Mayor Gavin Newsom and the Supervisors positioned the tax as a ‘fee’ to help offset the $7.5 million they say it spends every year picking up spent butts.

“How double-dealing can you get?” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.  “If the public is going to let them get away with that, perhaps they’ll like this idea even better:  Make the 20-cent per pack ‘fee’ a deposit of one penny per cigarette.  Then,  homeless or other people could collect the butts as they do bottles and cans which could be redeemed for money. 

“That would accomplish two things: it would provide income for people who really need the money and it would help keep San Francisco streets and sidewalks clean,” said McCalla with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek.

 “Unfortunately, a lot of San Francisco businesses and the city will suffer because of this so-called fee.  Any business in the city that sells cigarettes and doesn’t object to this 20-cent per pack ruse has only itself to blame when their businesses tank and they have to lay off their employees or close their doors,” said McCalla.

William F. Shughart III of the Tax Foundation – an independent, non-partisan educational organization – supported McCalla’s position by saying that “former Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry… thought he could solve his city’s own budget problems by raising its excise tax on gasoline by five cents per gallon.  He was forced to rescind the tax increase within a month when revenue losses made it obvious that residents and D.C.-bound commuters were filling up their tanks in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs.”

The IPCPR is an association of more than 2,000 cigar shop owners and manufacturers and distributors of premium cigars, pipes and pipe tobacco and related items.  For the most part, these are small, family-owned businesses that employ tens of thousands of people and generate millions of dollars in state, federal and payroll taxes.

And, soon, fees in San Francisco.

 IPCPR Fights California Tobacco Tax Proposals

Sacramento, California  June 18, 2009 – California legislators are grasping at tax straws that don’t exist as they seek to raise billions of dollars that don’t exist for a balanced state budget that doesn’t exist, according to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association. 

Two legislators – Democrat Assemblyman Tom Torlakson of Contra Costa County and Democrat State Senator Alex Padilla of Los Angeles – have introduced AB89 and SB600, respectively. The bills propose to increase tobacco taxes to as much as $2.10 per pack of cigarettes on top of the current $.87 per pack state tax and recently increased federal taxes of $1.00 per pack plus correspondingly stiff increases on other tobacco products like cigars and pipe tobacco.

“It’s easy to call these ‘tobacco taxes’, but the truth is they are discriminatory taxes that target some 15 percent of California adults who enjoy tobacco in one form or another , whether they smoke cigarettes or savor hand-made cigars” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of IPCPR. 

“Real people pay these taxes… real people at all economic levels who vote and who have had enough overspending by government.  They are customers of our more than 200 members throughout the state of California who are smoke shop owners and manufacturers or distributors of premium cigars and other tobacco products.  They are, for the most part, small, family-owned businesses that employ thousands of their neighbors.  As taxes go up and sales go down, their businesses are as threatened as the jobs of their employees and the sales, income and other taxes collected by the local, state and federal governments,” McCalla said.

Proponents of increased tobacco taxes claim they will make it more difficult for under-aged individuals to purchase cigarettes.

“Higher taxes do not make it more difficult for teen-agers to purchase tobacco… they only make it more expensive for them and everyone else.  If we want to keep kids from smoking – and we agree that everyone should support that goal - we should be enforcing the laws that are already on the books as do all members of the IPCPR,” said McCalla.

McCalla disagreed with an editorial in a California newspaper (Wednesday, June 17, Los Angeles Times) that said increasing state tobacco taxes would be a “fair and constructive” way to find “balance” for the budget.

“The bills’ sponsors are estimating that these new, taxes on 15 percent of Californians might generate up to $2 billion as the state seeks to fill its $24 billion deficit.  That is anything but fair, constructive or balanced,” McCalla said.

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IPCPR Warns Cigar Smokers: Nothing to Celebrate with North Carolina Budget

Raleigh, North Carolina June 15, 2009 – One way or another, there may well be another tobacco tax increase among nearly $800 million worth of across-the-board tax increases in North Carolina. That’s what is proposed for the fiscal year beginning July 1 unless an irate electorate makes itself heard to the state’s legislators, according to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

Proposed tax increases include raising the state sales tax to seven percent, hiking income tax rates for high wage earners, new liquor tax increases and a tobacco tax increase to $.50 per pack of cigarettes and 13 percent on other tobacco products, including premium cigars and pipe tobacco.  If Governor Beverly Perdue has her way, there would be even higher taxes on other tobacco products of up to 28 percent and an increase of $1 per pack in the cigarette tax.

 “Times are tough all over.  Revenues down?  Cut spending.  That’s what families do.  And that’s what governments should do.  That’s why now is the time to tell your state senators and representatives that you are against any new taxes because they will only hurt our chances of economic recovery,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

The IPCPR represents more than 2,000 retailers and manufacturers of premium cigars.  McCalla explained that these retailers and manufacturers represent, for the most part, small family businesses and not what is usually referred to as ‘big tobacco.’  There are nearly three dozen IPCPR members in North Carolina who employ hundreds of people whose jobs would be at stake if, as anticipated, an additional tobacco tax increase would lead to a decrease in sales, according to McCalla.

 “If you use tobacco in any form or derive any of your income from tobacco in any way, you will likely be negatively affected by the proposed new taxes, making it all the more difficult to participate in any economic recovery,” said McCalla.

A House-Senate conference committee meets this week to create a compromise version of the state budget that currently includes the tax increases to help cover what the Democratic leadership claimed to be a $4.6 billion shortfall. 

“The budget has become a political football which we are not interested in playing with.  And neither, we believe, are the voters in this state.  All we want is an effective government that doesn’t automatically reach for the tax increase button when revenues fall short,” McCalla said.

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 Massachusetts Reaches Tipping Point Says IPCPR and State Tobacconists

Boston, Massachusetts June 15, 2009 – Apparently State Rep. Ted Speliotis doesn’t believe Massachusetts has gone far enough to control the lives of its citizens, but the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association and its several dozen members statewide believe that the tipping point of public opinion has been reached against legislated deprivation of their individual rights.

Speliotis’ bill to essentially ban smoking within 25 feet of windows and entrances of buildings is expected to be reviewed this week at a State House hearing.   

“People are complaining today that governments at all levels have gone too far by intruding on their lives and taking away more and more of their rights,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.  “Well, a smoking ban such as proposed by Speliotis only serves to embolden legislators to deprive more and more people of their rights in an ever widening variety of categories .  That’s why smokers and non-smokers alike should take a stand against legislated smoking bans of any kind.”

McCalla cites the Federal Reserve Bank which uses data supplied by the Bureau of Statistics to prove that jobs are lost and businesses are threatened in areas where smoking bans are tolerated.

Stephen Willett, owner of tobacconist L. J. Peretti Co., a family operated business in Boston for nearly 140 years, agrees.  He is among the Massachusetts members of IPCPR who, along with their customers, are even more strident in their opposition to government control over lifestyle decisions.

“What hypocrisy!  Many of the same state and federal legislators who vote for smoking bans or over-the-top tax increases on tobacco enjoy cigars and pipes or smoke cigarettes whenever they get a chance.  Businesses should be left to decide for themselves to allow smoking or not and customers can patronize them or not.  That’s the American way,” said Willett.

“For nearly a century and a half,  our business has survived wars, weather, depressions and other man-made and natural disasters. However, the recent actions of our local, state and federal governmental bodies have hurt us the most.  They’ve raised tobacco taxes too high in order to pay for programs they can’t afford.  They’ve restricted smoking or banned it outright in order to control us, which denies us of our constitutional rights,” Willett said.

“Our customers are outraged and have reached the tipping point on issues like this that deprive them of their rights,” he added

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 IPCPR Advises Louisiana Legislature: Don’t Tax Twinkies or Tobacco

 Baton Rouge, Louisiana  June 12, 2009 – As if a 2,700 percent federal tax increase on some tobacco products wasn’t enough, Louisiana lawmakers are trying to squeeze another 50 percent in state tax revenues out of Louisiana cigar smokers plus $.50 per pack of cigarettes and similar increases on other tobacco products.

“It’s as unfair and unjust as excessively taxing alcoholic beverages, snack foods, and automobiles because they make you drunk, fat or have accidents.  Just because obesity is the nation’s leading cause of health problems, nobody should be taxing Twinkies and no one should be taxing tobacco, especially cigars and pipe tobacco, in order to manage how we live,” according to Chris McCalla, legislative director of the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association, whose 5,000 members and guests will be meeting in convention in New Orleans in August.

Legislation proposed by New Orleans’ Rep. Karen Carter Peterson barely squeaked out of committee this week by an 8-7 vote after twice being defeated and will be up for discussion on the House floor next week. 

House Bill 889 would further tax Peterson’s constituents and others throughout the state by increasing the state tax on cigarettes by $.50 per pack and on hand-made cigars from the current 20 percent of cost to a proposed 30 percent – a 50 percent increase.   The proposed pipe tobacco tax increase would go from the current 33 percent to 49.5 percent with similar increases for other tobacco products. Cigars and pipe tobacco represent a small percent of the tobacco market but they are the primary source of income and jobs for the nearly three dozen Louisiana tobacconists and their employees.

 “Current tobacco taxes raised less than $400,000 for the state last year and many Louisiana tobacconists’ sales are already off by double-digits due to the federal tobacco tax increase that went into effect April 1, 2009,” said Bob Winston, owner of the Tinder Box in Metairie, LA.  “Tobacco is an unstable, eroding tax base which higher taxes will only result in closing businesses like ours, job losses and further tax deficits.”

Winston and fellow tobacconists Rene Gerard, owner of Piper’s Haven in Lafayette and Sarah McCauley, co-owner of Bayou Tobacco, Inc. in Baton Rouge, are among several state tobacconists who appeared at House committee meetings in opposition to the Bill. They are all members of the IPCPR.

 “Higher taxes on cigars and pipe tobacco will only drive whatever business is left into the hands of Internet, out-of-state and mail order merchants 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 McCauley.  

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 IPCPR Says Louisiana Legislature Puts State Businesses at Risk

Baton Rouge, Louisiana  April 28, 2009 – Nearly 1,200 bills have been filed for debate during the current legislative session in Louisiana.  Of these, the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association is watching  three it believes will negatively impact state businesses, including scores of conventions as well as hundreds of small businesses and more than a million residents throughout the state who smoke.

House Bill 75 proposes to raise the current 20 percent excise tax on non-cigarette products to 30 percent.  Two other bills seek to tighten the state’s existing anti-smoking law.  House Bill 844 and Senate Bill 186 are aimed at banning smoking in any restaurant or bar.

“The IPCPR convention is scheduled for August, 2009 in New Orleans.  More than 5,000 participants will attend and they will spend a lot of money in restaurants and bars.  We won’t be doing nearly that much if the proposed bans are enacted, and we are not likely to return in 2010 or beyond if that were the case.  And we are just one convention.  Scores of other conventions whose organizations are considering New Orleans and other cities in Louisiana will also likely opt to hold their meetings in more tobacco-friendly locales,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

McCalla believes jobs will be lost, businesses will be put at risk, and many conventions will stage their events elsewhere if any of these bills are adopted. The IPCPR represents more than 2,000 tobacco retailers and manufacturers of premium, hand-made cigars, most of whom are mom-and-pop small business owners who generate local employment, state and federal sales and other tax revenues.

“Increasing the taxes on a legal product in order to raise more money for state coffers and then banning its use in more locations will result in price increases and lower use of the product which means lower tax revenues for the state.  Also, lower sales mean less business which means fewer jobs,” according to McCalla.

Legislated smoking bans are unnecessary McCalla believes because business owners should be able to choose whether or not to allow smoking in their establishments while their customers and employees can choose which establishments they wish to patronize or work in.

“Besides, air quality levels in restaurants and bars that allow smoking have been proven absolutely safe by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  At the same time, those levels of secondhand smoke are well within the safe air quality standards established by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration – OSHA – for such establishments,” he added.

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 IPCPR EXPRESSES CONCERN FOR FUTURE OF FLORIDA TOBACCO RETAILERS

Tallahassee, Florida  April 24, 2009 – Much has been written about the negative effect on Florida-based cigar manufacturers that increased state taxes on tobacco will have, but it’s the mom-and-pop smoke shop owners and their employees and customers who will be hurt the most, according to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

The IPCPR has more than 2,000 members worldwide, 290 of which are located throughout the state of Florida.

“Most of our retail members are mom-and-pop operations which hire local, neighborhood folks and generate sales and income taxes that help fill the state and federal treasuries,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.  “The federal government just slapped the industry with increased tobacco taxes of up to 2,500 percent.  Now comes the state of Florida where some of its legislators have decided that isn’t enough.”

The Florida Senate passed a budget bill last week that includes a $1-per-ounce tax increase on cigars sold within the state.  The original version of this legislation applied the tax increase to all cigars manufactured in Florida, no matter where they are sold.

“While we are grateful that Florida cigar manufacturers would be spared the additional taxes on their products sold outside the state, the tax would still apply to cigars sold in the state and it is our Florida retailers and their customers who will still suffer as a result,” McCalla explained.

McCalla appealed to members of the Florida House of Representatives to eliminate the proposed tobacco tax increase from its version of the budget.

“The price of cigars and other tobacco products is going up significantly with the recent federal increase and our industry, no doubt, will be hurt by these increases.  That means thousands of jobs are at stake, along with millions of dollars in tax revenues if our retailers are driven out of business by these onerous increases,” he said.

 McCalla explained that cigars are more a hobby than a habit and that, according to IPCPR promotional literature; they make “ordinary moments special and special moments extraordinary.”  As such, they are subject to purchase patterns by consumers that are highly susceptible to pricing changes, particularly increases that would limit more frequent enjoyment of these legal, adult products.

“Hand-made cigars are like fine wines.  They are made to be enjoyed by adults on appropriate occasions.  To over-tax either would be to akin to killing the goose that lays the golden egg,” McCalla said.

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Contact:
Tony Tortorici
678/493-0313
tony@tortoricipr.com


 IPCPR Urges Common Sense by Vermont Lawmakers

Montpelier, Vermont   April 23, 2009 – The International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association today urged Vermont legislators to use common sense when considering an extreme tightening of the state’s current smoking ban which has been in place since 1987.

The proposal now before the legislature includes the banning of smoking in tobacco shops and other such adult oriented locations.

“No one goes into a tobacco store without expecting to encounter secondhand smoke,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of IPCPR.  “These are adults-only workplaces whose air quality falls within the safe levels of air quality established by OSHA – the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.”

McCalla urged Vermont legislators to be reasonable in their deliberations of the issue.

“We believe no smoking ban should be legislated and that it should be left up to business owners to determine whether or not smoking would be permitted in their establishments.  However, the Vermont smoking ban – which has served the state and its citizens for nearly a quarter-century – is strong enough to satisfy the demands of any reasonable employee who desires a smoke free workplace while respecting the rights of others,” McCalla said.

McCalla pointed out that most tobacco shops are mom-and-pop operations, small businesses that employ neighborhood workers and generate sales and income taxes for state coffers.

“If the right to smoke a cigar, pipe or other tobacco product in the controlled environment of a cigar store is legislated away, then these same lawmakers will be voting to eliminate these businesses and the jobs and taxes that go with them,” McCalla added.

“Premium hand-made cigars are celebratory and special.  Pipes are calming and reflective. Both are more like hobbies than habits and use of neither is aimed at children.  We are a unique industry enjoying the sale and use of legal products.  As long as we respect the rights of others as they should respect ours, we should be allowed to stay in business instead of being deprived of our livelihood through unreasonable legislation,” he said.

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 IPCPR SAYS TOBACCO BAN EFFORT ENDANGERS TEXAS JOBS

AUSTIN, Texas  April 13, 2009 – Texas legislators are considering a statewide smoking ban – again.  This time, however, the only thing that has changed is that more jobs and businesses than ever would be at stake, according to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association. The organization is comprised of more than 2,000 retailers and manufacturers, mostly small, family-owned businesses.

“Exaggerated claims relative to the health aspects of secondhand smoke continue to be flung about carelessly while the Occupational Safety and Health Administration – OSHA – continues to maintain safe levels for secondhand smoke which are well in excess of any air quality standards that would be found in most businesses, including restaurants and bars,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of IPCPR. 

“Meanwhile, since last year’s pass at a smoking ban, our economy has tanked, people are out of work, overtaxed and looking for jobs, businesses are hanging on by a thread or closing their doors and laying off yet more people while Texas legislators are wasting their time on non-issues like smoking bans instead of dealing with matters of substance like jobs and the economy.”

McCalla pointed out that the United States Constitution guarantees the rights of business owners to run their businesses as they see fit, and that includes deciding whether or not to permit smoking on the premises.

“The system is working.  The marketplace is deciding for itself whether businesses should allow smoking or not.  And that’s the way it should be.  We don’t need government to tell business owners how to run their businesses,” said McCalla.

Some have suggested that permits might be issued by the State for those businesses where smoking is permitted and that exemptions might be encouraged for businesses that cater to adults like cigar bars and cigar stores.

 “Legislated smoking bans have ruined businesses and employees have been laid off because of them, according to the Federal Reserve Bank.  Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Fed concluded that smoking bans, wherever they occur, hurt businesses, especially bars and restaurants,” McCalla said.

McCalla takes the position that public policy like smoking bans puts small businesses in jeopardy of jobs, tax receipts and profits and should not be considered at any time, especially during economically perilous times as now.

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 IPCPR Stresses ‘Freedom, Unity’ for All Vermont Citizens

Montpelier, Vermont   April 9, 2009 – Contrary to its motto – ‘Freedom and Unity’ – the state of Vermont is one step closer to tightening its current smoking ban by prohibiting the use of tobacco and other smoking products in all workplaces throughout the state.  

The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association says the freedom of all Vermont citizens – smokers and non-smokers alike – is at stake and state legislators should be spending their time on issues that truly matter – like jobs and the economy.

“The United States Constitution gives the right to employers to decide how to conduct their businesses, and that includes whether or not to allow smoking on their premises.  The state of Vermont preempted that right by legislating a smoking ban in 1987 and would be adding insult to injury now by tightening those decades-old restrictions,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

“Why is this important to the estimated 675,000 non-smokers and smokers who live in the state?  They all should be concerned because their constitutional rights are being further tampered with and further deprivation of their rights would be in the offing,” he explained.

McCalla pointed out that, in contrast to what is claimed by pro-ban and anti-smoking forces, secondhand smoke in the workplace has been declared a virtual non-issue by the very federal organization that has been assigned the responsibility for wellness in the workplace – the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“In the first place, OSHA has established safe levels for secondhand smoke in the workplace and, secondly, those safe levels are so high that the air quality in most bars and restaurants would not come close to reaching them let alone exceeding them,” McCalla said.

McCalla cited official documentation from senior officials of OSHA that states, in part, “It would be very rare to find a workplace with so much smoking that permissible exposure levels would be exceeded.”

Vermont’s current smoking ban plus on-going trends in the marketplace have led to an increasing number of business owners banning the use of tobacco in their establishments.

 “Legislated smoking bans are simply not necessary when the market is adjusting accordingly on its own.  Why bother with something that’s already working when there are so many other more important issues to deal with such as jobs and the economy? ” he said.

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 IPCPR Campaigns Against New NY State OTP Taxes

Albany, New York  April 3, 2009 – Some $13 billion in new taxes and fees fill the proposed $132 billion New York State budget already passed by the Assembly and currently under consideration by the Senate.  Included in the 3,000 pages of legislation are increased taxes on non-cigarette tobacco products which the 2,000-member International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association warns could result in economic devastation to its 74 in-state members and job losses among their more than 600 employees.

 “Our membership includes thousands of tobacconists and manufacturers of premium cigars.  Virtually all of them are small business owners whose enterprises will be devastated by these new taxes.  That means businesses will close and jobs will be lost.  In addition, the state and federal governments will not get the revenues they hoped for and they will lose revenue from sales and income taxes,” said Chris McCalla, IPCPR’s legislative director.

New federal excise taxes are adding up to $10 per carton of cigarettes and up to 2,500 percent increases in taxes on other tobacco products including up to 40 cents per premium cigar. Among the new tobacco taxes included in the proposed New York State budget are an additional 50 cents per premium cigar while other non-cigarette tobacco taxes would increase from 37 percent to 46 percent.

Many disgruntled legislators claim the controversial state budget proposal with its increased tobacco taxes was created behind closed doors by Gov. David A. Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Malcolm A. Smith which has contributed to the weeks-long budget battle.

McCalla explained that the only businesses that would benefit from the increased state tobacco excise taxes would be out-of-state mail-order tobacco companies and tobacco bootleggers.

 “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 New York needs today?”  McCalla asked.

 “Government should not be taxing out of business those businesses that have every right to exist and upon which the livelihood of Americans depend.  What other businesses and products have survived after absorbing such exorbitant tax increases? None. These tax increases will end up destroying jobs, families and communities,” said McCalla.

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 IPCPR Says Hawaiians Should “`Onipa`a” Against HB895

Honolulu, Hawaii  March 31, 2009 – ‘Onipa’a – stand fast - against HB895 is the advice given to all Hawaiians by the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association as it joins the fight against what it calls ‘crippling new state taxes’ proposed against premium cigars and other non-cigarette tobacco products.

The amended HB895, which was originally passed by the Hawaii House, is currently scheduled for review by the Senate’s Ways and Means Committee at 9:30a.m. on Thursday, April 2.  The bill proposes to more than double the tax on wholesale prices of premium, handmade cigars and other non-cigarette tobacco products beginning on September 20, 2009 at 85 percent, up from the current tax rate of 40 percent.   The rate would then increase to 95 percent in 2010 and to 105 percent on in 2011.

In addition, new federal excise taxes are adding up to $10 per carton of cigarettes and up to 2,500 percent increases in taxes on other tobacco products including up to 40 cents per premium cigar beginning in April, 2009. 

“Our membership includes thousands of tobacconists and manufacturers of premium cigars.  Virtually all of them are small business owners like Les Drent of the Kauai Cigar Company whose businesses will be devastated by these taxes,” said Chris McCalla, IPCPR’s legislative director, who submitted his written testimony to the Committee.

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.

In what he believes is a life-and-death struggle to save his family owned business, Drent is urging all Hawaiians to sign the petition located on his website at www.kauaicigar.com. The petition says, in part, that such increases in taxes “would not only irreparably harm island merchants currently selling cigars, but it would negatively impact local agriculture that produce island grown cigars and erase all tax revenue generated by the wholesale tobacco tax in Hawaii.”

“Government should not be taxing out of business those businesses like ours 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 Drent.

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