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Stogie Commentary: No Time to Be Complacent

20 Jan 2011

With the election in the rear view mirror and many state legislatures not yet in session or not taking critical votes, one might think it would be a good time to rest easy. Minus a few exceptions, there seems to be less bad news than normal on the cigar rights front recently—fewer smoking bans and tobacco tax hikes.

But now is the most important time in the battle against anti-smoking legislation. Complacency now could be devastating later, while diligence and action now will pay dividends later when trying to stop the next smoking ban or tax hike from passing.

That’s because politicians are currently deciding which bills to introduce. Dozens of bills around the country have already been introduced that impact tobacco rights (the IPCPR tracks them here) and equally important are the bills that haven’t yet been filed. Because it is so early in the process, a call or letter to your state legislator now can have a big impact.

By informing them that you care deeply about these issues and oppose any effort to expand smoking bans or raise tobacco taxes, you let them know that you’re watching them carefully. After all, nearly all politicians at their core want to avoid making voters angry. Before they publicly take a position on a bill, you want them to know that doing so will anger people in their district.

Which is why being active and vocal early in the process is most effective. A perfect example was the report yesterday by the IPCPR that a bill in the Virginia House that would have increased the state’s OTP (other tobacco products) excise tax rate by 400% died in the State House’s Finance Committee.

With more vigilant action now, hopefully similar bills in other states will meet the same demise. If you’re unsure of who your state legislators are, click here and the IPCPR can tell you.

Patrick S

photo credit: IPCPR

Drew Estate

One Response to “Stogie Commentary: No Time to Be Complacent”

  1. dmjones1009 Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 4:11 am #

    Great reminder, Patrick. Lack of further "bad news" doesn't mean the news will automatically be good. If we aren't willing to act and speak up, some of these newly elected people won't even think about what we are asking for, much less introduce legislation to affect that change.