Cigar Aficionado

Fight For Your Cigar II

Not long ago I blogged that it was time for you to fight for your cigar. It's time to do more.

First, an update. The U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives have each proposed to greatly increase the funding of the State Children’s Health Initiative, known as SCHIP. Funding the increase would come from higher taxes on cigarettes and cigars. For cigar smokers, the proposal would hike the Federal Excise Tax on large cigars, which is currently capped at five cents a smoke. The latest plan would increase that cap to as much as $3.

The final decision is expected to be made when Congress reconvenes in September, and the cigar industry has waged a coordinated effort to try to keep that increase from happening. As Gordon Mott wrote in his recent blog, several meetings were held at the recent Retail Tobacco Dealers of America trade show to discuss how to best fight the increase.

In addition to the constant lobbying efforts by the Cigar Association of America plus the Retail Tobacco Dealers of America, others have made efforts to fight this tax. Rocky Patel recently posted a video on his website urging cigar smokers to fight. Drew Estate, Camacho Cigars and many other cigar companies met in Miami to discuss fighting the tax. Cigar accessory maker Xikar Inc. just created its first cigar brand, called Defiance, and five percent of the proceeds will go to fight for tobacco rights. Alejandro Martinez-Cuenca, the owner of Joya de Nicaragua and a politician in his native country, is working on a documentary that he plans to bring to Congress in September to show how the tax would impact Americans as well as the economies in cigar-producing countries such as Nicaragua. “Handmade cigar consumption is not only for the rich,” he says. Cigar retailers such as Jeff Borysiewicz of Corona Cigar Co. have been writing their congressmen, and a group of cigarmakers plans to travel to Washington in September to plead their case.

Don’t let all their work go to waste. No matter how much work the cigarmakers and others in the cigar industry are dedicating to fighting this tax increase, their power pales in comparison to that held by the cigar smoker. There are far more people who smoke cigars than there are people who make them. You have the ear of your congressmen. If you haven’t already, it’s time to pick up the phone and call to support the product you love so much.

The Cigar Association of America and RTDA each have links on their site that make it easy for you to contact your legislators. Do it now, before it is too late.

Cigar Association of America: