By J. Glynn Loope, CRA Executive Director
Was the recent $.40 federal tax increase on cigars which pays for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) "Round One" in a series of tax increase attacks on cigars?
Today, SCHIP has been signed into law. FDA regulation of tobacco has sailed through the US House of Representatives, and is awaiting debate in the Senate. Twenty-four states have been debating tax and smoking ban legislation. Oh, but there is more, and you need to be involved.
This week, Daniel E. Smith, President of the Cancer Action Network which serves as the lobbying arm of the American Cancer Society announced that they had a plan for paying for national health care reform. As reported in Congressional Quarterly, Smith stated that their organization would be...drum roll please...pressing President Obama and the Congress to double all tobacco taxes. They're serious - $3 million worth of serious.
That's right, they announced that they would be spending $3 million over "the next few months" to lobby the President's administration and Congress, specifically for another round of tobacco tax increases, fresh off the heals of the SCHIP taxes. Smith further announced that this will be the "largest campaign they have ever run to actually achieve a public policy goal."
The President has presented a $634 billion plan to be utilized over the next ten years as a "down payment" on a national health care 'overhaul.' However, the estimates are running closer to $1 trillion. The Cancer Action Network is already running the numbers on the levels of taxation they want to advocate.
In an unrelated story that ran on the eve of the SCHIP taxes taking effect, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids organization noted, "There is plenty of room to go [for taxes] for cigars and smokeless." Of course, that means 'we' are on their radar screen. SCHIP clearly elevated premium hand-made cigars as a target for such regressive forms of taxation.
We need to paint a different picture. You can not travel through the tobacco farms, curing barns, sorting rooms, box makers, rolling factories and distribution areas in Honduras without thinking about the economic impact of what this industry means to Latin America .
As one ponders the manufacturing, distribution and supply chain network that makes a great cigar even possible in your hand, you can not view this industry in the same light.
As you reflect on the moments you spend with great friends engaged in conversation at your community tobacconist (which in many cases has been there for multiple generations) on a Saturday morning, or after a hard day of work, sitting in that leather back chair, holding that cigar for just one moment of peace, you start to realize what that single cigar means to bringing some solitude to the day. You stare at it. You realize it's a piece of art, and that hundreds of hands made that moment possible.
In the coming weeks and months as the American Cancer Society's - Cancer Action Network spends their $3 million to lobby Congress for new tobacco taxes, or your local and state government considers their tax and smoking ban ordinances and legislation, remember that this is why you belong to Cigar Rights of America. Remember that like the patriots of ole, you want to defend your passion; defend your ability to enjoy that cigar; and to defend that moment from undue levels of regulation and taxation.
Cigar Rights of America will keep you informed on the status of this new assault, as well as the ongoing debates at the state and local level. But we need you. We need you to be engaged and active. We need your calls and emails to legislators, and for you to visit with them in their offices when they're back home, "getting their hand on the pulse of the community."
Sunday, May 03, 2009
Source: Cigar Advisor