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Stogie Commentary: Hey Cigar Industry, Get Your Act Together!

29 Oct 2007

The cigar industry, from field to shop, turns out a great product. But, I’m sorry, that’s about it. As Congress began Thursday to debate a new version of the SCHIP bill that appears to contain the same tax proposals for cigars as did the earlier legislation, I was distraught. But after the industry’s display earlier, I wasn’t surprised.

I wrote an earlier piece suggesting where mistakes had been made and how the industry could do better. The drumbeat of blundering continued, though.

Let me just highlight a few examples: Attacking a program that polls show again and again is supported by a majority of Americans; and denouncing SCHIP as a Democratic socialized medicine ploy when its biggest supporters include such GOP conservatives as Chuck Grassley and Orrin Hatch.

Then, today, I read about how online poker players are lobbying hard on Capitol Hill to get the restrictions on their game repealed. I don’t know if they’ll succeed. But from what I read they’re approaching the issue logically, sanely, and have enlisted strong congressional support.

I hope they’ll be able to afford a cigar to enjoy while they’re sitting in front of the computer trying to make that inside straight.

As for me, I’m crying “Uncle.” Though I firmly believe that the large tax increase proposed for cigars is unfair and counterproductive, I also fear it is now inevitable. Lousy performance has a price, and in this case I’m afraid smokers will be paying the bill for the industry’s ineptitude.

George E

Tags: cigars

8 Responses to “Stogie Commentary: Hey Cigar Industry, Get Your Act Together!”

  1. Matt Monday, October 29, 2007 at 3:04 am #

    The industry seems to have gotten caught with their pants down. They've lived in the shadows for a long while watching Cigarettes take all the hits but I seems like it never occurred to them that eventually attention would turn to them. It's hard to mobilize the kind of resources you need to lobby congress on such short notice let alone know how to do it right when you are scrambling to catch up. truth is, they should have seen this coming a long time ago and should have already had the relationships and expertise in place to deal with this so that when this tax first raised its ugly head they would have been adequately prepared to fight it. But its all spilled milk now. I foresee a drastic reduction in the number of cigars I'll be able to purchase in the future.

  2. sungrown Monday, October 29, 2007 at 5:16 am #

    Behind the scenes, manufacturers, distributors and retailers, even those that are fierce competitors, working side by side, visiting and contacting Congressional offices, rallying customers and raising awareness. All this to ensure the pleasure of a fine cigar remains an affordable luxury for us. It is vital that cigar consumers stand up and make a little noise. This has been going on since S-CHIP first mentioned a cigar tax.

    And to be honest, the cigar industry has been facing threats and taking hits for some time now. It's not rolling over quietly…there is plenty of action behind the scenes. Enough? No…not nearly enough, but the industry is not "crying uncle," and would appreciate your help as well.

  3. Matt Monday, October 29, 2007 at 11:14 am #

    "Plenty of action behind the scenes"? Perhaps that's the problem. They have failed to get any mainstream coverage of the devastating effect this tax will have on the big 3 cigar producing countries and what effect that will have on US immigration and the economy. That is what will prevent this tax from happening, not whether or not it will cost some dude more to enjoy a fine cigar. The American majority doesn't care if we have to pay more to smoke. there has been no mention in the media coverage of this about the effect this will have on Nicaragua, Honduras, or the DR other than in niche outlets that cater to cigar smokers. I would think it needs to be on NBC and CBS evening news to make any headway.

  4. MonkeyDan Monday, October 29, 2007 at 12:32 pm #

    My good friend Stinkie at CigarBeat has made me aware of new legislation that is bringing back SCHIP in a new package. In short, the original bills which contained SCHIP and a cigar tax increase were under bill #976. As you are aware, this bill was vetoed and later failed to get enough votes to override that veto. So, the Liberal "Do-Gooders" have now packaged this bill under Social Security! Unbelievable! Now, the Democrats can say the conservatives are against the elderly. This is politics at it's finest.

    The new bill that you need to follow is H.R. 3963. Please call your congressmen and express your displeasure. The new bill wants to increase your tax to $3 a cigar. As soon as Stinkie posted this on his website, I called my Congressman, Jerry Weller. I spoke with his Communication Director, Andy Fuller and he expressed to me that this bill will not pass as well. The idea of funding any program with a cigar tax is self-defeating. The cigar revenue is not large to begin with and taxing a small market will only shrink that revenue. Therefore any bill that includes a sales tax on cigars will not likely pass. Please read Congressman Weller's Position on SCHIP & Cigar Tax. The following is just a sample of Weller's talking points:

    "Democrats plan to pay for their $35 billion expansion of the program with a 61-cent per pack tax on cigarettes. As any 4th grader can tell you, when you raise the price of an item, fewer people will buy it. Cigarette taxes have historically proven to be no different. Thus, Democrats’ plan will produce fewer cigarette smokers, and therefore, fewer people who will help pay for SCHIP. They are cutting off the funding stream for children’s health care before they even start. Furthermore, an analysis by The Heritage Foundation showed that in order to pay for the Democrats’ proposed expansion, the LACE w:st="on">United StatesLACE> would have to produce 22 million new smokers."

    In short, call your congressmen and tell them to vote down H.R. 3963!

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