IPCPR Believes Maryland Smoking Ban Puts Jobs, Businesses, Non-Profits at Risk

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Maryland's ban on smoking in public places goes into effect Feb. 1. State tobacconists fear their businesses are at stake as are jobs and the charities their businesses help support. Is it long before more states follow suit?

Maryland jobs and businesses are at stake and many non-profit organizations may be hurt as a result of the state's ban on smoking in public places, according to Chris McCalla, director of legislative affairs for the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR).

"Maryland smokers aren't the only ones anxiously anticipating the February 1 launch of the state's ban on smoking indoors in areas open to the public and in indoor places of employment," said McCalla. "One of the unintended consequences of this ill-conceived legislation is that many jobs and businesses may be at stake and many of Maryland's finest non-profit organizations likely will also feel the pinch of lower contributions from the state's tobacconists."

McCalla explained that any decline in sales of premium cigars may result in closing of tobacconists' businesses as well as a loss of jobs. In addition, many Maryland retail members of IPCPR have staged fund-raising events over the years that have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to benefit a wide range of charities and non-profit organizations. The future of these events is now questionable.

Kenneth Kandell, owner of Westminster Cigar Co. in Westminster and Reistertown, Maryland, has promoted the "Bad Boy Smoker" annually for ten years. The sellout event benefits the Delrey School, a special school for children with cerebral palsy, and the Big Brother and Big Sister League. His event also has benefitted the Carroll County State's Attorney's office which used the money to aid victims of spousal abuse.

"Last year's event will probably be the final one because of the Maryland smoking ban," said Kandell.

"With smoking banned in public places, more such fund-raising events could well be eliminated," McCalla said.

For the past seven years, The Humidour Cigar Shoppe, formerly in Timonium and now in Cockeysville, Maryland has held an annual "Smoke on the Water" charity event. The gala has benefitted Survivor Diver, to enhance the quality of life for breast cancer survivors; the Ed Block Courage Awards that helps prevent child abuse and raise awareness of abused children; the Adalius Thomas SLASH Fund to enrich the lives of underprivileged children; the Tony Siragusa Foundation helping underprivileged children; and the Daniel Wilcox Empowerment MINDS Foundation to open the horizons of disadvantaged youth in the inner city.

"We'll continue to sell cigar boxes to benefit the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and to donate cigars and accessories to many golf tournaments and charitable auctions," Helmuth said, "but 'Smoke on the Water' has been the big charity event of the season for us."

Maryland's largest tobacconist is Davidus Cigars, Ltd., based in Monrovia with seven locations throughout the state, all owned by two brothers, David and Steve Castro.

"We contribute to a number of charity events every year," said Steve Castro. "This past year, for example, we supported Special Olympics, the National Neimann-Pick Disease Foundation, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Veterans of Foreign Wars, St. Francis Episcopal Day School, GROWS - the Grass Roots Organization for the Well Being of Seniors, the American Red Cross and others."

McCalla explained that, for the most part, tobacconists run family-owned businesses which have been part of their respective communities for decades. Their primary business is selling premium cigars, pipes and related accessories, not cigarettes or machine-made cigars.

"Premium cigars are special and tobacconists are special, too," said McCalla. "The cigars are hand-crafted by artisans and favored by adult consumers who enjoy them because they make ordinary moments special and special moments extraordinary. And tobacconists work hard to be as knowledgeable as possible about their products and for their businesses to provide local jobs and community support. Also, because premium cigars are more a hobby than a habit, sales of these cigars are very sensitive to increased taxes such as were ultimately rejected by the federal government last year.

"Unfortunately, the the statewide public smoking prohibition includes premium cigars which means that scores of non-profit events held in public places may well be excluded from tobacconists' event calendars," said McCalla.

About the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR):
IPCPR is the oldest, largest and most active trade association representing and supporting retail tobacconists. Members include more than 2,000 retail stores throughout the world selling tobacco products and accessories, primarily premium cigars, tobacco pipes, loose tobacco, cigar and pipe accessories and gift items. More than 350 manufacturers, distributors and service providers of high quality merchandise are also members of IPCPR. The organization is committed to preserving the rights of adults to enjoy legal tobacco products. (http://www.ipcpr.org)

For more information, interviews, etc., please contact Tony Tortorici at 678/493-0313 or tony @ tortoricipr.com

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