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Entries Tagged as cigar laws

Overwrought

October 16, 2014 · By · No Comments

Back in 1875, French composer Georges Bizet debuted the opera that would make him famous – Carmen.  The opera is a classic, and I remember as a child going to the Academy of Music in Philadelphia on a school trip just to see it.  (One of my very few ventures into the operatic world.)   I can’t say I remember much from the opera, except for the Toreador Song which almost everyone has heard at one time or another.

Well now come the nannies.  You see in the opening scene, it begins with girls who work in a cigarette factory.  Can you guess where this is going?  Well in Australia they have cancelled the opera because of the tobacco connection

A sponsorship agreement between WA Opera and Healthway has seen plans scrapped to perform a show where the main character works in a tobacco factory.

WA Opera general manager Carolyn Chard told Radio 6PR the decision was made to scrap a planned performance of Carmen - which strongly features the smoking of cigarettes - of its own volition and not under direction of its sponsor.

Healthway is a state government body that seeks to promote  and support healthy lifestyles.

And, of course, the state cannot let anyone see someone being involved with tobacco.  Really?  Gimme a break.

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WHO’s in charge?

October 07, 2014 · By · No Comments

Ok as I sit here in Ebola Central—fortunately for me the people who are being watched and the guy who has it live several miles away.  Still way too close.  Anyway, so what is making news from the World Health Organization?  That the U.S. will not send a delegation to Russia later this month for the Framework Convention of Tobacco Control.  Yup, the WHO is more worried about the “epidemic of tobacco” than the actual epidemic of Ebola.  These people are super geniuses.

The reason the U.S. is not going is because Russia getting the conference is a big plus for the country and the administration wants to rain on that parade.

The decision to sit out the weeklong Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) meetings is based on U.S. displeasure over Russia’s actions in eastern Ukraine in recent months, said Bill Hall, director of the news division at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Now it should be noted that the U.S. did not sign the framework but lots of other nations have, including Liberia,  Guinea and Sierra Leone which are in the middle of the Ebola epidemic.  See when bureaucrats get involved in health bad things happen.  Remember this “epidemic of tobacco” goes against the WHO’s massive study on second hand smoke that found no correlation between second hand smoke and increased diseases.  Yet the pols who make up the WHO are concerned about it.

They even want a world wide ban on tobacco advertising.  All of this goes on while Ebola rages in Africa.  And the WHO must be having their heads explode when you consider the experimental drug that seems to work on the disease is made from tobacco.  Of course thanks to the FDA it is not available here.

What about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?  Well the CDC ‘s main mission is to stop diseases, yet they too have mishandled Ebola.  On October 2nd, their big news was that banning smoking in public housing could save nearly $500 million dollars a year.  Sure, that is more important.  I guess also more important than the virus, which is causing polio like symptoms in kids. Of course the CDC blames it’s failures on Ebola on funding cuts.

But CDC officials and lawmakers who support the agency warn that years of austerity has hobbled both the CDC and the National Institutes of Health, both in terms of their ability to combat future outbreaks and their ability to prevent them from happening in the first place.

I dunno like paying closer attention to people coming from West Africa? Even CNN reports that they were shocked on the lack of screening when reporters were coming back to the U.S. from Liberia.

CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen went to Liberia in September to report on the outbreak there, and returned to the U.S. last week. What she says about her return should have everyone concerned.

Cohen says “I expected that they were going to take my temperature. They’re going to ask me lots of questions. They didn’t. I said ‘I’m a journalist. I was covering Ebola. “The gentleman who was helping me, the officer, he started to hand my passport back. Instead, he said, ‘I got an e-mail about passengers like you. Hold on.’ He conferred with someone. In the end he said ‘You need to watch yourself for signs of Ebola.’”

Way to go CDC.  Nice you are getting the word out.  Oh but what about the funding?

…if there is a money crunch, perhaps the CDC needs to rethink it’s scope. The CDC can’t afford to keep an aerial ‘bio-containment unit’ on retainer, but it does have museum, a massive staff and a lots of waste and fraud. In 2007, Senator Coburn’s office authored a 115-page report detailing things like the CDC budget gimmicks, the agency’s hundreds of millions of dollars of waste on junkets and elaborate digs and its institutional failures to actually ‘control diseases’ – and this includes AIDS prevention. It’s doubtful things have gotten better.

The Dallas Hospital which released the Ebola patient back into the community until it was obvious to damn near everyone he had Ebola said they didn’t know about his previous travel.  Having been at that ER before, you have to produce ID.  The guy just came in so no driver’s license, he most likely had a Liberian passport but the hospital could not put two and two together.  However, that facility is smoke free—even if you are sitting in your own car.  So had the patient come in with a cigarette or cigar, he would have been detained.  My solution is make sure all possible Ebola patients smoke, maybe then they would pay attention.

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More Evidence

September 25, 2014 · By · No Comments

We’ve often heard that smoking bans do not impact business.  Right.  Witness the catastrophic failure of Downing Street in Houston,  the cigar bar that went smoke free in February and was out of business by May.  Or the casino in Atlantic City Revel that was proudly non smoking, until it hit bankruptcy. Then it quickly added smoking sections—too bad it was too late and is now shuttered.   Now in Macon, Georgia, comes yet another example of how “smoking bans do not affect business”.  Fortunately this one was done by the business owner and not by the city or state.   The Hummingbird Stage and Taproom’s owner announced in late August that the bar was going smoke free September first.  He said it was part of his clean air campaign.  17 days into the clean air” experiment, the owner changed his mind.

Hummingbird owner Tim Obelgoner says they're tossing out their no-smoking rule after less than three weeks because they've lost business.

And many of their loyal smoking customers made it clear that banning smoking was the wrong move, Obelgoner said.

Perhaps he is not a fast learner because he said he may ban smoking again.  It is his business and he can do what he wants.

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Smoke 'em

September 16, 2014 · By · No Comments

There was a bit of bright news late last week. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have banned smoking in all state parks and would have severely limited smoking on the state’s beaches.  The fines were pretty steep too, $250 for a first offense, $500 second time around and $1,000 for the third time.  This is the face of anti-smokers…make them pay lots.

Environmentalists and anti-smoking advocates praised the bill as groundbreaking, saying it would curb secondhand smoke exposure, cut down on litter, and reduce the risks of fire.

Christie said in his veto message that he appreciates the concerns but derided the measure as a "prescriptive, one-size-fits-all" ban.

Yeah because there is so much to catch fire on beaches…that sand you know.  And unless I am wrong, there are already laws against littering.  Now many towns in Jersey have banned smoking and some towns have done so on their beaches.

"Too often, policy-makers at more centralized levels of government encroach into areas of public policy previously reserved for more localized governing bodies." Christie said in the message. "I do not believe that the state should substitute its judgement for that of our local elected officials or upset the careful balancing of interests that informs the decision-making process at the local level."

Even though the bill passed both houses in the legislature by wide margins, at least somebody had sense to knock this down.

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Hypocrisy

September 09, 2014 · By · 3 Comments

Recently in a cigar store, I was asked if I favored the legalization of marijuana.  I said no. When asked why, I simply said that pot smokers are hypocrites.  They will light up a joint, but then hack and cough if one were to light up tobacco around them. If all the people in favor of legalizing pot backed tobacco smokers as well…it would be a different story.

A public opinion survey put out last week supposedly shows that the majority of Americans support the legalization of marijuana.   39 percent of the 450,000 surveyed show they strongly support the legalization, while another 19 percent somewhat favor it.

Jennifer Sikora, a spokesperson for CivicScience, explained to The Huffington Post that although the survey was online, the company uses browser cookies to keep respondents from answering the question more than once. In order to further hedge against a person answering the same question multiple times, the question is part of a pool of more than 1,000 rotating questions on multiple websites to further decrease the possibility that a respondent might happen upon the same question again. Still, Sikora says, there is a very small percentage of respondents who do repeat the answer (after all, cookies can be deleted), but the 453,653 U.S. adults in this survey are unique.

The question was “would you support or oppose a law that would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol?”  23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized pot for medical uses and Colorado and Washington have legalized it for recreational use.  However, Washington and Colorado have bans on smoking tobacco.  Do they seem to think that all pot users will eat it?  After all, smoke is smoke.

And what of regulation?  It occurs to me that marijuana is a drug.  Isn’t the name of the federal agency that intends to put cigars out of business the Food and DRUG Administration?  They seem to have no interest in pot, but are more concerned about nicotine.  

At the end of last month, the FDA and CDC put out a release that was very deceptive.  They don’t want e-cigs, nor any other form of tobacco because, I think, it hurts pharmaceutical sales of Nicotrol, Nicorette, Chantix and the like.  The National Youth Tobacco Survey massaged the data to get results that could be exploited.

Intention to smoke conventional cigarettes was 43.9% among ever e-cigarette users and 21.5% among never users.

“The increasing number of young people who use e-cigarettes should be a concern for parents and the public health community, especially since youth e-cigarette users were nearly twice as likely to have intentions to smoke conventional cigarettes compared with youth who had never tried e-cigarettes.” said Rebecca Bunnell, Sc.D., M.Ed., Associate Director for Science in CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health and the lead author of the study.

Carl Phillips takes the report to task on several points:

So what did they find? They reported that according the 2013 NYTS, 263,000 never-smoking American youth, grades 6-12, had ever tried one puff of an e-cigarette. The lies start here. They describe this as “used e-cigarettes” even though no rational person would interpret “use” to mean “tried one puff ever”...    It is also worth noting that this is far lower than the roughly 5% of the “youth” in the population who are of legal age to buy cigarettes, cannabis where it is legal, and e-cigarettes where they are age-restricted.

Further, the quarter of a million number comes from the kids who EVER tried a puff, not just in 2013.  As for the percentage of “youth” that had intentions to use e-cigs, well they had to juggle the numbers.  When asked if they would smoke, the choices were basically definitely yes, probably yes, probably no and definitely no.  The FDA CDC decided that anything other than a definite no was intention to smoke.  Really?  This is the kids of “science” we are up against.  Liars.

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3 CommentsTags: cigar laws · FDA

No Exceptions

September 02, 2014 · By · No Comments

Who couldn’t have seen this coming?  Well probably most of the cigar industry.  In many talks with people about smoking bans and why we should always fight them, often many of the people in the business will say, I won’t be affected….I will get an exemption.  When you point out that exemptions may be only temporary things, they often scoff.

In Nebraska they aren’t scoffing anymore.  Last Friday the state Supreme Court struck down exemptions to the state smoking law as unconstitutional. Surprise.

In Friday’s ruling, Judge Kenneth Stephan, writing for the majority, said there is no substantial difference in circumstances between cigar bars and other public places or workplaces that justifies treating them differently.

An Omaha pool hall was fighting the ban trying to get the law scrapped.  Instead, now it is worse.  But the pool hall now says, at least the playing field is leveled.  Yeah everyone is gonna be in the basement.  I hope the pool hall goes out of business.

According to news reports the court decided the exemptions were contrary to the legislature’s initial intent to ban smoking from the workplace.  Nevermind that the legislature changed the law to include those exceptions.

The Supreme Court ruled that only the exemption for hotel guestrooms is constitutional, because the evidence against it doesn't overcome its presumption of constitutionality, Stephan wrote.

That's not the case for tobacco retail outlets and cigar bars, he said.

"Allowing patrons of such shops to smoke simply because it is convenient does not comport with the purpose of the Act, which is to protect the public and employees from the dangers of second-hand smoke," Stephan wrote.

While most articles concentrate on the state’s 11 cigar bars,  it also affects cigar stores.

Jason Hutchison, general manager of Jake’s in Lincoln, is already predicting a 10 percent to 15 percent loss of business. He said he hopes he won’t be forced to lay off employees.

“I don’t think the judges look at the repercussions for things like this,” he said

No they don’t.  And do not think that the anti’s feel this is a victory.

For Mark Welsch, president of Gasp Nebraska, the ruling is bittersweet.

“I'm very pleased that the Supreme Court has ruled that you can no longer smoke in cigar bars, in tobacco stores. I'm disappointed that they still allow hotels and motels to be smoky and am most concerned that they allow smoking at in-home day care's and foster home businesses,” said Welsch.

Right….not far enough.  You can never compromise with these people and be certain they will use this decision in the future in other states and cities to get rid of the exemptions.

Now let’s take this a step further.  The upcoming FDA ruling, many have said, will likely end up in court.  They are right.  The trouble is they don’t think about what could happen.  For example, if mass market cigars are covered by the FDA and premiums are not, don’t you think someone is gonna go to court?  I have been told that of course the mass market size will get an exemption after the court challenge.  They have wonderful lawyers you see.  My point is that any legal challenge can always go against you.  Witness Nebraska.  Bottom line…be afraid, be very afraid.

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The Science is Settled

August 29, 2014 · By · No Comments

You hear that a lot when the other side talks about tobacco.  But is it really?  Remember when ulcers were thought to be caused by spicy food and instead were the result of bacteria that simple antibiotics could cure?  Well the same is apparently true about salt and diets.  Remember that when Bloomberg was the nanny, er mayor, of NYC, not only did he wage war on tobacco but also on salt.  He got his health department to cut the amount of salt in foods in the city.  They pushed for a 25% reduction.  Salt is terrible for you, they said.

“We are trying to extend lives and improve the lives of people who live in this city,” Bloomberg said in a press conference in New York today. Life expectancy in the city has lengthened by 15 months over his eight-year tenure, the mayor said.

The city modeled its salt-reduction plan on England, which “has been very successful in getting packaged-good manufacturers to slowly reduce content,” Bloomberg said.

 The science is settled—the American Heart Association, another nanny, still says that is the case.  Not so fast.  A study this month said if you cut out too much salt you could be hurting your health.

Current guidelines from U.S. government agencies, the World Health Organization, the American Heart Association and other groups set daily dietary sodium targets between 1,500 and 2,300 milligrams or lower, well below the average U.S. daily consumption of about 3,400 milligrams.

The new study, which tracked more than 100,000 people from 17 countries over an average of more than three years, found that those who consumed fewer than 3,000 milligrams of sodium a day had a 27% higher risk of death or a serious event such as a heart attack or stroke in that period than those whose intake was estimated at 3,000 to 6,000 milligrams. Risk of death or other major events increased with intake above 6,000 milligrams.

Of course the nannies derided the study.

The new report has shortcomings, and as an observational study it found only an association, not a causative effect, between very low sodium and cardiovascular risk. Still, it spurred calls to reconsider the targets.

Wait, aren’t damn near all of the studies on tobacco, second hand and third hand smoke these types of studies?  Yeah well when the “science” isn’t to your liking, challenge the study but when it is, well it is gospel.

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See you in Court

August 20, 2014 · By · 1 Comment

One thing is pretty clear about the FDA…no matter what they rule, there will be court cases.  For one thing, Altria—the cigarette maker Philip Morris—is concerned that the FDA control may force them to change the name of one of the best selling cigar brands.  Altria owns John Middleton Co., which makes the Black and Mild brand.  Middleton dates back to 1856 and it has almost a third of the U.S. cigar market.

Under the Food and Drug Administration proposal, cigar makers would have to remove descriptions like "light," ''mild," ''medium" or "low" from their products, raising a unique question about the fate of Black & Mild.

The descriptions were banned for cigarettes under a 2009 law because many smokers wrongly thought they meant the products were less harmful than "full-flavor" cigarettes. Cigarette makers have since replaced those words with colors such as gold, silver, blue and orange on such brands, which usually feature different filters and milder-flavored blends.

The company contends that forcing it to change the name would be unconstitutional.

"Neither FDA's regulatory authority or the First Amendment allows the FDA to ban words such as mild for cigar and pipe tobacco regardless of the context," said Altria spokesman David Sutton. "Here, when the word is part of a longstanding and well-established trademark like Black & Mild, such a ban would violate basic constitutional guarantees."

But, of course, constitutionality matters to the government.  See Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder for confirmation. 

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1 CommentTags: cigar industry · cigar laws · FDA

FDA marches on

August 19, 2014 · By · No Comments

The FDA is going through the comments now and last week in talking with Glynn Loope about the comments submitted, he told me that on the last day the Cigar Rights of America group delivered about 40 pounds of letters.  Yup, the old fashioned pre-Internet kind on paper, not electronic.  That is a lot of letters from cigar smokers and is a good thing.  Loope says the CRA is drafting another letter for consumers to send to Congress. Yes there still is a way to stop this, via Congressional action. (This is an election year after all.)

In the meantime, Florida’s Attorney General gets a pat on the back.  Pam Bondi wrote into the FDA to say she thinks they are overdoing it.  Unfortunately she was alone.

Bondi’s letter was separate from a letter signed the same day by 29 other attorneys general that implored the FDA to make the proposed regulations even stronger, particularly in regard to electronic cigarettes

Bondi said the FDA should consider the economic impact of what it is doing.  (Remember it already has put people in San Antonio out of work when Finck’s cigar factory closed and I doubt there is much call for cigar makers in Texas anymore.)  Bondi is concerned that J.C. Newman in Tampa would have to cease its manufacturing in that city.

“This 119-year-old premium cigar company with 130 employees is truly unique in this industry and should not be regulated in the same manner as the nation’s largest cigarette companies,” Bondi wrote on Friday, the deadline for submissions on the federal plan.

Florida’s Senators also have been involved.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., have requested an exemption to the new rules for companies that don’t mass-produce cigars, such as J. C. Newman. The FDA is already considering an exemption for premium cigars that are handmade. J.C. Newman uses vintage machines.

We’ll see how this plays out.

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FDA Finals

August 12, 2014 · By · No Comments

Well the comment period is now closed for the FDA’s proposed rule to take over cigars.  We don’t know how many were in favor and how many were on our side yet.  But the final count was 75,735, which is about 15,000 more than we had at the start of last week.  Since the FDA has to look at every comment, figure it will take them about 6 months to go through all of them.  Realistically, the FDA is going to do what it wants to do no matter what.  So now we sit and wait.  I thank those of you who did put in your comments, and as for those who didn’t, well when cigars are gone you only have yourselves to blame.

The other side is not resting…they are continuing their push for regulation of premium cigars.  According to an inaccurate report by Bloomberg:

“We know that premium cigars have health risks, they cause cancers they have cardiovascular implications and so on,” Gregg Haifley, associate director of federal relations with the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, said in an interview. “Why should a product that has known disease health consequences be exempt from a factual scientific warning label?”

There are 3,639 types of cigars that would be affected by the proposal, 3,276 of which are made in other countries, according to an economic analysis by the FDA.

The groups want the premium cigar makers to have only one year to file an application to sell their products instead of the 2 years the FDA proposes. For all 3,639 cigars and that doesn’t include what came out this year at the trade show.  And I am sure the FDA will get right on that approving them...

Oh the inaccurate part?   In the story’s third paragraph it talks about Imperial Tobacco as the owner of Davidoff.  Guess the reporter and the anti’s don’t know Davidoff is a separate company.  Nice fact checking. 

By the way, in Hawaii there is a preview of things to come. Starting July first, the state got rid of self-service for cigars, unless the shop bars anyone under 18 from going in.  It is not that much of a problem because there are very few walk-in humidors in the state and the under 18 ban is a way out.  But look for the FDA to implement a very similar rule everywhere once they gain control.  

So What Now?

There is still something you can do about this…urge your Congressmen and Senators to support HR 792 and SB 772, which would exempt premium cigars from the FDA’s clutches.  As of now, there are 162 sponsors and co-sponsors for the House bill and 16 for the Senate version.  We need to do better.  Write and call your Congressional delegation to be certain they get involved.  Even if these bills do not pass this session, the more sponsors we get will get the FDA’s attention.  After all, the FDA gets its money from Congress.  You can go to the Cigar Rights website to get information on the bills and how to contact your representatives.

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