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Entries Tagged as cigar laws

Smoking Laws Gone Wild, Part 2

June 18, 2015 · By · No Comments

A long, long time ago when smoking was accepted in our great land and my dad was able to buy all of his power tools in the Montgomery Ward department store without having to extinguish his green dog-rocket, there were some crazy tobacco laws on the books (albeit not as dangerous as those being enforced now). These odd mandates thrived throughout the decades unchallenged, hardly known by the general public. Being the hard-working investigative blogger that I am, I took a 20-minute break from the Dog The Bounty Hunter marathon to astonish and amuse you with some of these amazing tobacco laws. I’m sure there are many more than I came across, but I’m not writing a novel! Instead, I have decided to amuse you with my favorites. And, yes, they are all factual. I swear! (fingers crossed).

New Jersey: While signs reading “Do Not Feed the Animals” are common in many zoos, New Jersey took this notion one-step further by passing a law that forbids people from giving local zoo animals cigars or whiskey. Feeling sorry that these poor deprived caged beasts cannot enjoy the simple pleasures of life, I took a trip to the Turtleback Zoo in West Orange and threw a carton of Virginia Slims and a six-pack of Coors into every cage. They all seemed happy,( except for a certain lemur that preferred menthol), and I wasn’t even breaking any laws… although I don’t encourage any of you to do this! It just so happens that I simply got lucky on that particular day because all of the caretakers were busy trying to dislodge a rhinoceros who got his horn stuck in a fence.

Newport, Rhode Island: Resting on the East Coast, Newport has a law that prohibits people from smoking a pipe after sunset. It seems that any other time is fine but, once the sun goes down, you and your beloved briar are done. Fortunately, many of the city’s pipe smokers have found that snorting Vicodin and washing it down with a bottle of Thunderbird is just as relaxing.

 

South Bend, Indiana: In this town, a law dating back to 1924 declares that it is officially illegal to make a monkey smoke a cigarette. Many years ago, while living in South Bend, I owned a monkey named Larry—and I totally agree with this law. I never would have forced Larry to smoke a cigarette. That, in my book is considered animal cruelty.

Being a responsible pet owner though, I attempted to take Larry to a local cigar bar. The friendly owner said, “We don’t get many monkeys in here.” Boy, was I embarrassed when Larry said, “With these prices, you won’t be getting many more either!” Larry orders his cigars online now.

Michigan: Here, smoking in bed is not only ill-advised, it is downright illegal. Somebody should have told that to Murray Kaplan from Flint, who fell asleep with a Gurkha Robusto in his mouth while watching the Discovery Channel. Not only did he lose his eyebrows and chest hair, he was promptly arrested after his landlord smelled smoke and called the police. Unfortunately, his neighbors on Cellblock B love a guy with neither eyebrows nor chest hair. Poor Murray spent the next three years wearing a strapless lemon chiffon evening gown while spending romantic evenings with the Aryan Brotherhood.

Oklahoma: While the smoking laws here seem fairly standard, I did learn that dogs congregating in groups of three or more on private property must have a permit signed by the mayor. I am not 100 percent certain but I do believe that, once they have this paperwork in order, they are then allowed to smoke cigars. Those of you in Oklahoma, please tell your dogs not to get too excited and head to the nearest cigar store just yet; I’ll have to research this a little further.

Well, as my Rabbi would frequently say while reciting the Talmud, that was some crazy shit. However, these dumb tobacco laws do not only apply to the good old US of A. Let’s take a look at a crazy law that still exists in Australia.

Australia has a law that bans children from purchasing cigars or cigarettes. Obviously this isn't the strange part, as many countries rightfully have similar regulations. However, Australia stands out because minors are legally allowed to consume tobacco as long as an adult makes the purchase. (Perhaps needless to say, there is no father of the year award in this country.)

Australian children are freely allowed to smoke a cigar in front of a police officer, a parent, a teacher, or even a kangaroo, and, believe me, not all kangaroos are cigar-friendly! Several years ago while I was visiting my grandmother in the Outback, a kangaroo approached me and said, “Sir, please put that stinking cigar out. My kids can’t stand the smell!” Indignantly, I replied, “Ma’am, if you don’t like the smell, go hop somewhere else!” That bitch kicked me so hard in the nuts that I couldn’t breathe!

I am truly sorry that I wasted your time with this awful story. I just have one more request—close your eyes and picture this dreadful scenario:

It is sometime in the future and you’re driving home from a hard day’s work, unwinding with a big fat joint, which is, of course, now legal in all 50 states. Suddenly you see the flashing lights of a police car in your rearview mirror. Your heart is pounding as you sit on the curb while the cop begins searching your car to see if you are carrying any concealed or unlicensed… cigars.

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Smoking Laws Gone Wild, Part 1

June 16, 2015 · By · No Comments

What would happen if all tobacco products became illegal in the United States? Well, if left up to a select group of asshole legislators in this country, this would be the final result.  Local, state, and national government organizations would be crippled! Many such organizations rely on taxes on tobacco products for their funding. I’m not an economist—in fact I am still learning how to properly use a calculator—but I’ll bet my humidor that banning and/or imposing ridiculous taxes on these products until the average consumer can no longer afford them would undoubtedly cripple the world economy. Not to mention that just about every neighborhood tobacco shop would eventually be forced to shut down.

Let’s just say that someday tobacco products are completely banned. The “War on Drugs" would take on a much deeper meaning when cigars and pipe tobacco are being sold illegally on the same sleazy backstreets as heroin, marijuana, and crack. From another perspective, think about how much pressure would be put on the average drug dealer if he doesn’t have the perfect cigar to complement a bag of black-tar heroin. He could lose the whole sale! The irony of all this is that more and more states are trying to make marijuana-growing legal while simultaneously trying to ban tobacco in every state.

I honestly believe that marijuana has been proven to help people with certain chronic, terminal, and mental illnesses, but I also believe that cigars have the same medicinal effect. Can you imagine how many middle-aged Jewish men avoid a stroke because they were able to puff on a fat stogy while their wives are out draining their credit cards at Bloomingdales!

Perhaps the most absurd aspect is that these dumb political tools are classifying cigars and pipe tobacco in the same category as cigarettes. Mr. Congressman, instead of going to happy hour every night with your political cronies, or banging your secretary at a cheap hotel, why not read a book about cigars? They are not the same as cigarettes! They don’t have a zillion toxic chemicals and you don’t inhale! George Burns didn’t live to be 100 years old smoking three packs of Lucky Strikes a day, you dumbasses!

On another related topic, and please understand that this is just my own opinion—secondhand smoke is total bullshit! Look at the pollution floating around in the air every day. Plus, if it was so damn dangerous, there would be nobody over 50 alive today. I spent the first 18 years of my life with a cigarette, cigar, or pipe within breathing proximity of my kisser and I can still schlep through a store without riding a Rascal Scooter. I acknowledge that it is common courtesy to keep your distance from nonsmokers if it bothers them, but my neighbor certainly will not drop dead on his front porch, because I was smoking an El Rey del Mundo in my own backyard. So, everybody shut the F- Up already...

Oh, I’m getting so mad now that I almost threw my laptop into the fish tank. I’m going to stop here, take a deep breath, and redirect you fine brothers and sisters of the leaf in an entirely different direction when I unveil “Smoking Laws Gone Wild- Part 2” this Thursday.

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No CommentsTags: cigar laws · cigar life · cigarettes

Nebraska/Kentucky

March 05, 2015 · By · No Comments

Nebraska

We’ve kept you informed about the efforts in Nebraska to once again allow cigar smoking.  It is now officially legal again for the state’s cigar bars.  Governor Pete Ricketts signed the emergency bill late last week that reinstates the exemption to the smoking ban for cigar lounges.  The Governor took the whole 5 days he had to either sign or veto the bill but in the end he signed it and it is now law.

Kentucky

The other side was pushing for a smoking ban in Kentucky, but it appears they lost.  I know the CRA was working hard on the legislature.

House Bill 145 passed the House on Feb. 13 by a 51-46 vote. But that was the last vote on the bill.

Supporters of the bill complain that leaders of the Senate's Republican majority delivered the deadly blow two weeks ago by referring the bill not to Adams' Health and Welfare Committee but to the Senate Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection Committee.

That committee is chaired by Sen. Albert Robinson, R-London, who opposes a smoking ban. Robinson has not called the bill for a hearing and said Monday he would not comment on it until his committee meets on Thursday.

Let’s hope this holds it would be a victory for us.

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House & Senate

February 20, 2015 · By · No Comments

Last week, I mentioned the Cigar Rights of America had introduced a bill in the House to keep the FDA out of our humidors.  Now there is a Senate companion bill in the hopper. 

Folks I cannot stress how important this legislation is.  Earlier this month, a piece in Barrons went over all the FDA issues.  You know how everyone is excited about the possibility of Cuban cigars coming into the U.S.?  Well if the FDA gets its way they will never make it to our shores.

Mitch Zeller, the head of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, stresses that the recent proposal “will allow us to propose further regulatory action on these and yet-to-be-conceived tobacco products.”

THE FDA HAS MADE SCANT EFFORT to understand the cigar industry. It concedes that it has little idea how many small handmade-cigar manufacturers exist in the U.S. and exporting countries. The agency estimates that compliance with the new regs will cost each small manufacturer up to $759,000 initially and another half-million dollars a year. The Small Business Administration’s Advocacy Office protested that the proposed regulations fail to discuss the costs of the proposed rule on many potentially affected small entities. If the new rules are finalized, many, if not most, small cigar producers will be driven out of business.

The Obama anti-tobacco campaign is driven by zealotry, not science. The FDA is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, which is carrying out a “strategic action plan” with “the bold vision of a society free from tobacco-related death and disease.”

The proposed anti-cigar regulations are based on the principle that the feds have moral and legal authority to prohibit any behavior they decree is harmful. As this principle gains ground, the government can consider bans on caffeine, junk food, and other allegedly addictive substances. But there will never be a Federal Register notice on the perils of total subjugation to imperious bureaucrats.

This commentary nails it.  One of the only hopes we have is to get Congress to approve the legislation it now has.  We have tried twice before, but now there is a new Congress and one that possibly is more agreeable to our plight.

The legislation needs more co-sponsors and needs to move.  You can help by contacting your Congressman and Senator.  Let them know you smoke cigars and vote.  I don’t care if you have done this before, you need to do it again. CRA makes it easy, just go to the website and enter your zipcode.  Please do it today.

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No CommentsTags: cigar laws · FDA

Moving legislation

February 11, 2015 · By · No Comments

The Cigar Rights of America is busy right now.  Legislatures across the country are back in session and there is the new session of Congress.  Lots of places to look for legislation aimed at screwing cigar smokers.  But as I have reported CRA is making progress in Nebraska last week the Senate voted 34 to 2 to advance the bill allowing cigar smoking in the state’s cigar lounges.  While the supporters hold for fast passage, one Omaha Senator vows to filibuster the bill.  Stay tuned...

In Washington there are a couple of bills getting attention.  One is the reintroduction of the bill to keep the FDA out of our humidors.  Rep. Bill Posey is sponsoring the legislation (which was pending last session so to keep moving forward it had to be put in again.) Already the House version has 35 co-sponsors.  The text is not yet available but the title says the bill clarifies the FDA’s role over certain tobacco products to protect jobs and small businesses involved with traditional and premium cigars.

And in the President’s new 4 trillion dollar budget, once again he calls for increases in the federal tobacco tax.  The plan is to double the federal tax to help fund health insurance for low income children.  This is the S-CHIP program that already added about 40 cents to every cigar.  The President’s budget calls for nearly doubling cigarette taxes from $1.01 to $1.95 with a similar increase on cigars.  The tax, if passed, which fortunately is doubtful, would take effect in 2016.

Bottom line the CRA has a lot to do.  Why not help them by joining today?

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Moving Ahead

February 04, 2015 · By · No Comments

Last week I told you about the legislation moving through Nebraska to once again allow smoking at cigar bars and in tobacco shops.  Well that bill has now moved forward. It came out of the state legislature’s general affairs committee by a 7-0 vote with one abstention from a legislator who wanted more legal scrutiny on the bill to be certain it would hold up in court.  Under the bill only cigar and pipe smoking would be allowed, no cigarettes.

The bill differentiates cigars and pipes from cigarettes by saying that cigar lovers often pair cigars with various types of alcohol and that cigar and pipe smokers may take an hour or more to enjoy their smoking “rather than simply satisfying an addiction.”

The bill carries an emergency status so it would go into effect as soon as it passes and is signed.  Look for fairly quick progress on this.

In New Orleans, Mayor Mitch Landreau signed the new bill to remove exemptions in the city’s smoking laws…that means no more smoking at casinos or bars.  Conveniently, it goes into effect after Mardi Gras.

In Washington state, it has been ten years since voters approved a smoking ban which prohibits smoking even in cigar stores.  (The only places you can smoke as far as I know are the Indian casinos.)  That could change, but the odds are still highly against it.  Legislation is moving again to try to carve out a niche for cigar bars.  This is the fourth time since the ban went into effect.  This time the bill passed unanimously through the House Commerce and Gaming committee.  The proposal would legalize cigar bars and smoking rooms in tobacco shops up to a total of 115.

Proponents say the state would gain tax money and give users of a legal, controlled substance a place to use what they're buying. Opponents see an immense public health concern and a betrayal of the voters who passed the smoking ban in 2005.

Right there are always the spoilsports.

"It's a bad idea," said Rep. Eileen Cody, D-West Seattle. "They're basically trying to get around the Clean Indoor Air Act that was supported by a wide margin."

Cody chairs the House Health Care and Wellness community and helped thwart earlier House bills to allow cigar bars. Cody said she plans to oppose the latest attempt to make Washington the 36th state to legalize cigar bars, possibly by bringing the bill into her committee for review.

"Somebody's going to be working there, and they're going to be exposed to it," Cody said.

The last time the proposal came up it was more ambitious creating 100 cigar bars and 500 smoking rooms.  This one is much more modest calling it at 40 cigar bars and 75 smoking rooms.

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Cornhusker Fighting

January 28, 2015 · By · No Comments

This week in Nebraska, the Cigar Rights of America is giving testimony in efforts to let Nebraska’s cigar bars and cigar shops keep smoking.  Last year, a state Supreme Court decision ruled the legislative exemptions to allow smoking was against the constitution.   As the legislature convened, new legislation with perhaps more nuance was introduced to get those exemptions back.  For a while after the court’s ruling, smoking was still permitted as the state’s bureaucracy worked to issue new permits that prohibited smoking.  Now that work has been done and the smoking lamp for the Cornhuskers has gone out.  Glynn Loope has been in Nebraska and testified before a committee this week as it hears the new legislation.  Loope says he is encouraged in that this legislation has an emergency clause that would mean it could go into effect as soon as it is passed and signed by the Governor.  He is cautiously optimistic that it will get done sooner rather than later. 

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Kick Off

January 27, 2015 · By · No Comments

In addition to the Super Bowl this week, there is another kick off of sorts.  It is the first tobacco show of the year.  Held in Vegas it is Tobacco Plus Expo and mostly geared to small stores and convenience shops.  There will be some premium cigars there, but my guess is there will be a lot of vaping stuff as well and I mean a lot.  It will be interesting to see the mood of the show and see what the year may have in store.

Cloudy New Orleans

At least this first show is not in doubt. The big one is.  Last week, the New Orleans City council passed a smoking ban.   This is a cause of concern because New Orleans is set to host the annual cigar trade show this summer.  If it were my decision, I’d move it.  Why should tobacconists give New Orleans ANY money?  But the IPCPR says on its Facebook page

This legislation passed unanimously with favorable amendments. As amended, the legislation will not impact the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailer Association's (IPCPR) local members or our 83rd Annual Convention & International Trade Show. The ability to smoke in cigar bars, the convention center, and in facilities being used for private events is protected by the amendment.

The favorable amendments are a handful of exemptions that could easily be taken away.  The big one is that it allows smoking at the trade show on the floor. The IPCPR is playing for a tie not a win.  Glynn Loope of the Cigar Rights of America isn’t buying it.  He says this smoking ban is a first step and he realizes the other side goes for incrementalism.  In 2007, Louisiana passed a state wide smoking ban for restaurants and many workplaces but exemptions were made for Casinos and bars.  Now, New Orleans is taking those exemptions away. 

The original city legislation had it so you couldn’t smoke within 25 feet of a door, but that was lowered to 5 feet when the council figured out that would effectively ban smoking on Bourbon Street.  (By the way this goes into effect AFTER Mardi Gras.)

As for enforcement, it won’t be the cops giving tickets as originally planned. They already have their hands full. With Mardi Gras coming up the locals are worried about crime.  In the French Quarter, there are signs telling people to travel in large groups because of the city’s violence.  The NOPD is understaffed.

The force has lost about 500 officers since Katrina struck in 2005 and it is now down to about 1,150 — far fewer than the 1,600 that Landrieu would like. As few as 250 officers were found to be on patrol duty and responding to calls for help in May 2013, a city inspector general report found last May.

"I have been to some roll calls where there is one cop, two cops," said Michael Glasser, president of the Police Association of New Orleans, a police union.

The Mayor, Mitch Landrieu, wanted the council to delay action so his office could study the issue.  They didn’t want to wait.

Harrah’s tried to tell the council that they were looking at a 20 percent drop in revenues because of the casino smoking ban.  The supporters say the ban will bring more business to the casinos. They always say that.  In December, the Louisiana State Police, which oversees gambling, projected a $104-million dollar loss due to a smoking ban.  I hope this goes like Atlantic City where similar arguments were made and ignored.  When Atlantic City banned smoking in casinos, it lasted about a week once the city saw the revenue drop.

Says Glynn Loope, “every job that is lost in New Orleans lies at the feet of Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell who pushed this bill.”

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No CommentsTags: cigar industry · cigar laws · cigar news · IPCPR

IPCPR Moving

January 23, 2015 · By · No Comments

The International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association is moving to Washington.  For many years, the IPCPR operated out of Columbus, Georgia which had a low overhead, but made for wicked commutes to DC to fight legislation in Congress.  So about a year ago, the organization decided it was time to move up.  A building was found on Capitol Hill, a short walk from the legislators and work has begun to make the building a home for the group.  The IPCPR hopes to move in sometime this summer. 

The reactions are pretty positive.  Jim Young, president of Davidoff North America says he is thrilled that the IPCPR will now be on the front line of fighting federal legislation.  The CEO of the IPCPR says that the new headquarters will enable the organization to house its staff in one locale to provide better service.  (Right now the IPCPR has staff in 5 states.)

One question is will people be able to smoke in the new DC headquarters.  Tobacco shops are exempt, but the IPCPR is not a tobacco shop.

  The law requires the employer to generally prohibit smoking in the enclosed area of a place of employment[xii], but the employer may permit smoking in an outdoor area under his or her control, subject to the terms and conditions of the lease or contract between the owner and the tenant.

I’m sure they will work on it.

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Et Tu Kentucky?

January 22, 2015 · By · No Comments

Apparently Kentucky is eying tobacco as a way of increasing revenues for the state.  A tax bill introduced into the House (HB132) makes a lot of changes to the commonwealth’s tobacco taxes. First up is a dollar a pack increase on the sale of cigarettes. Snuff and chewing tobacco are also in the crosshairs with their taxes doubling.  As for cigars, e-cigarettes and pipe tobacco, the bill proposes stores do a physical inventory at the end of September then pay  floor tax of 25% of their cost that basically triples the current tax. This is part of a much bigger tax bill so not sure how serious they are on this.  The legislature also has introduced a statewide smoking ban proposal again. The anti’s never give up even though they were shot down in the last session.  The Cigar Rights of America is heading to Frankfort to try to head off this bill.

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