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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Cigar Culture Wars

This week Cigar Rights of America (CRA) reported that the Cancer Action Network (lobbyists for American Cancer Society*) are about to spend $3 million dollars over the next few months to lobby the administration and Congress to increase taxes on cigars and other tobacco products. Absurdly, this is happening just weeks after the S-CHIP tobacco tax increases that will fund health care for people making under $80,000 per year. The Campaign for Tobacco Free kids noted, “There is plenty of room to go [for taxes] for cigars and smokeless.”
You must see by now that tobacco taxation is not really about using the money to recoup societal costs incurred by smokers. Sadly, it is estimated that only 5% of tobacco tax money is used for health care, cigarette cessation and education programs! Clearly, this level of extreme taxation is a punitive measure used to penalize a minority of people who do not conform to ‘dictated’ norms. In fact, the de-normalization of smokers is nearly complete as in California it is almost illegal to smoke outdoors on public sidewalks. And the hysteria and lies regarding second hand smoke has people believing smokers are dangerous and dirty people. Yet, any open-minded person who has ever read beyond the first page of the Surgeon’s General report on ETS must find smoking bans perplexing and unjustified.
Sadly, tobacco taxes and smoking bans will continue to increase because they are politically expedient. Over the last two decades our economic, political, scientific, and ideological arguments have failed to preserve individual, business owner, and tobacco user rights. Just take a look at how many republicans vote for smoking bans, declining rates of return on increased taxation, and the fact that smoking rates are relatively flat.
The increased persecution and taxation of tobacco users defies logic. It is about ideology. This is a cultural war against a certain ‘kind’ of people. And apparently, I am one of those people. Yet, cigar smokers only represent about 5% of the population – we are a bonafide underdog. That means each of us will need to convince at least 11 people to respect and support our freedoms, just to survive. In addition, as cigar and pipe smokers, we must proactively support the CRA as they are our infantry which battles the local, state, and federal government on a daily basis.
However, winning political battles will not be enough either. The anti-smoking movement is funded and organized beyond reason and comparison to any other political farce (sp?). They have waged a cultural war and we must meet them with commensurate force. The only force capable of resisting this movement is the value of freedom, inherent to being American. And the only way to change the culture is through education. So, Tobacconist University continues to build and project the credibility of our industry – endeavoring to preserve luxury tobacco for generations to come. There is a lot of work to be done and we must start yesteryear. Please join the CRA, convince 11 people to respect you, and get educated – sign the TPA, share & communicate, and learn something.

* Yes, it’s true, American cancer has a society and lobbyists. And if they have their way, all of the delicious carcinogens and smoke surrounding this steak will eventually be taxed, controlled, and eliminated as well.

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