Cigar Retailers in New York State Unite

More than two dozen cigar shops in New York State have joined forces to combat smoking bans and increased taxes on premium cigars. The New York Tobacconist Association was founded yesterday afternoon after a meeting at the Grand Havana Room, a private cigar lounge high atop Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

"Our goal is to stop the forward momentum of the anti-smoking movement," said Ron Melendi, who runs De La Concha in New York City and is the founding chairman of the New York Tobacconist Association. "There's just so much going on in New York, and we felt no one was helping us."

New York City banned the sale of flavored tobacco products in October, and recently forced retailers in the city to display graphic images warning about tobacco use.

"We want to draw a line in the sand in New York," said Glynn Loope, head of the Cigar Rights of America, a consumer organization aimed at fighting for cigar rights. Loope and several cigar companies were part of the meeting, which attracted cigar store owners from as far away as Syracuse.

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