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Stogie Commentary: Support Tobacconists Who Support Us

28 Oct 2010

Last week I wrote about how cigar smokers can protect their rights on Election Day. Between now and then cigar smokers should focus on identifying and supporting local politicians who will vote against tobacco taxes and smoking bans.

Going forward, the bigger challenge is creating a stronger alliance in our fight for cigar rights. Reaching out to other smokers is one way to do that, but an often neglected way to create a stronger pro-cigar coalition is making sure that those who should be on our side are fighting the anti-tobacco lobby.

No one is more impacted by anti-cigar legislation than tobacconists who sell cigars to make a living. And yet some cigar shop owners are content to let others fight legislation while they stand on the sidelines hoping for the best.

Tobacconists, along with cigar makers, should be leading the charge for cigar rights. Not only is this battle in their self-interest, but they owe it to their customers whose rights are on the line. Fortunately, as cigar smokers and customers, we have the power to insist that those who get our hard-earned dollars use a small portion of those funds to protect our rights.

So the next time you visit your favorite local tobacconist, ask him one simple question: What are you doing to protect cigar smokers’ rights?

While there’s no single right answer to that question, simply having an answer is important. Maybe it’s being active in local politics, supporting the IPCPR in their campaigns to fight smoking bans and tobacco taxes, or educating shop visitors in the importance of supporting CRA.

Some shop owners contribute to the IPCPR’s Political Action Committee, which supports federal candidates who take pro-cigar positions. I was pleased to see some names I recognize—including Gary Pesh of the Old Virginia Tobacco Company, Mike Copperman of Bethesda Tobacco, and Jeff Borysiewicz of the Corona Cigar Company—on the list of recent IPCPR PAC contributors.

Ultimately, though, how they are fighting for cigar rights is less important than if they are taking action. Remember: We must be vigilant to beat back anti-tobacco zealots who won’t be happy until cigar shops are out of business and most  smoking is prohibited by law. If cigar shop owners won’t fully enlist in the battle for our rights, then we have no chance of winning.

And if your local tobacconist still refuses to take action to protect our rights, then it’s probably time to find a new place to spend your hard-earned money on cigars.

Patrick S

photo credit: Cigar Label Blog

Drew Estate

6 Responses to “Stogie Commentary: Support Tobacconists Who Support Us”

  1. fdxeng Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 2:00 am #

    I go to a cigar shop in NH and I just visited their website after reading your column and I didn't see anything about IPCPR. The next time I am in the store I will ask them why they don't have any info about IPCPR or CRA. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

  2. Poor Richard Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 4:00 am #

    Patrick S:

    I like your commentary but want to pose the following question: With many B&Ms small, family-owned enterprises that have been hit hard by the economy, what if some tobacconists simply don't have the budget to support a PAC? Should we avoid them?

    Perhaps the answer is that there are ways for tobacconists to support the movement without donating cash, such as informing their customers about CRA.

  3. Patrick S Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 6:23 am #

    PR:

    I'm certainly not suggesting that places who don't/can't support the IPCPR PAC should be avoided.

    There are many ways to further cigar rights, and there are many smart people who would disagree about the effectiveness of specific ways. What I would hope for from by local cigar shop is: (1) an understanding of the problem; and (2) some reasonable action.

    I'll leave it individual cigar smokers to decide what they feel is a reasonable action. This isn't about demanding any one specific thing, it's just about communicating that you are concerned about these issues, and that supporting a tobacconists who shares your concerns is important to you.

    Also, I think that just having this conversation should go a long way.

  4. Todd Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 12:38 pm #

    Agree completely. I would gladly pay a little extra if it meant supporting a shop that is actively opposing laws to ban smoking or raise cigar taxes.

  5. Ethan K Thursday, October 28, 2010 at 8:30 pm #

    A concise letter by a registered voter to his representatives only takes time & postage. Politicians often consider the desires of citizens who care enough to express their concerns. It may just seem like words on paper, but enough letters piled in a stack can loudly proclaim, "Let us smoke!"

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