The flavor ban in New York City is tough enough, and the state is working on a 90 percent tobacco tax as we speak. In other cities, restrictions are even more severe, and higher taxes have already been put into place. It’s different in New York, though. This is one of the largest cigar markets in the United States. Problems here can be replicated across the country quickly. Further, the revenue lost because of higher prices would impact cigar manufacturers and distributors profoundly.
The new regulatory developments in New York have national significance, and it’s incumbent upon cigar smokers to get involved. So far, it’s been the retailers and manufacturers doing the heavy lifting, along with the Cigar Rights of America. We need to step in and protect our rights, too.
Here are five ways you can do your part – in New York, or anywhere else you live:
1. Join the CRA
If you haven’t joined the CRA yet, you need to. You get three premium cigars and a t-shirt, just for joining, so it’s really at worst a break-even proposition for you. Is $35 too much to ask? After you join, encourage your friends to join, as well. The CRA is doing its best for us; now we need to do our best for the CRA.
2. Contact your lawmakers
Be smart, be reasonable … don’t be a lunatic. A polite phone call to your representatives at the city, state or federal level can make a big difference (especially in an election year). Further, they assume that a phone call isn’t an isolated incident – there are many more people who didn’t call, representatives believe, who agree with the caller. Instead of calling, write a letter by hand. This method is considered to be even more powerful than picking up the phone!
3. Explain the situation and impact
Most lawmakers don’t understand the cigar community at all. They don’t realize that these are small businesses. Cigars aren’t “big tobacco.” Our retailers and manufacturers don’t have the deep pockets of the cigarette companies – and they can’t absorb tax increases. So, the manufacturers pass them along to the retailers, who pass them along to the consumers. Higher prices affect buying habits, revenues decline and stores go out of business. Jobs are lost.
This is a message that resonates with lawmakers, especially with unemployment still hovering dangerously close to 10 percent.
4. Enlist your friends
It’s not enough for you to get involved: we always need more people to get involved. The next time you’re sitting around the cigar shop, bring up the issue of anti-cigar legislation and how cigar smokers can take action to make a real difference. Show just how easy it is to leave your mark on this issue.
5. Sign a petition
Across the State of New York, retailers are asking their customers to sign petitions in support of the industry and against the proposed tobacco tax. You can sign it in less time than it takes for your credit card to be processed. Do it. If your tobacconist doesn’t have copies on hand, ask him to get some.
And, this is just a start. You can also tweet this article, share it on Facebook and e-mail it to your friends. Let them know how they can help protect our right to enjoy cigars.
The video below is six months old, but it’ll give you a sense of what’s at stake.
Tags: cigar ban, cigar rights, Cigar Rights of America, cigar smokers, cigars, Congress, CRA, flavor ban, legislature, New York, New York City, representatives, smoking ban, taxes, tobacco, tobacconists