IPCPR Says Hawaiians Should "'Onipa'a" Against HB895

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'Onipa'a - stand fast - against HB895 is the advice given to all Hawaiians by the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association as it joins the fight against what it calls 'crippling new state taxes' proposed against premium cigars and other non-cigarette tobacco products.

'Onipa'a - stand fast - against HB895 is the advice given to all Hawaiians by the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association as it joins the fight against what it calls 'crippling new state taxes' proposed against premium cigars and other non-cigarette tobacco products.

The amended HB895, which was originally passed by the Hawaii House, is currently scheduled for review by the Senate's Ways and Means Committee at 9:30a.m. on Thursday, April 2. The bill proposes to more than double the tax on wholesale prices of premium, handmade cigars and other non-cigarette tobacco products beginning on September 20, 2009 at 85 percent, up from the current tax rate of 40 percent. The rate would then increase to 95 percent in 2010 and to 105 percent on in 2011.

In addition, new federal excise taxes are adding up to $10 per carton of cigarettes and up to 2,500 percent increases in taxes on other tobacco products including up to 40 cents per premium cigar beginning in April, 2009.

"Our membership includes thousands of tobacconists and manufacturers of premium cigars. Virtually all of them are small business owners like Les Drent of the Kauai Cigar Company whose businesses will be devastated by these taxes," said Chris McCalla, IPCPR's legislative director, who submitted his written testimony to the Committee.

McCalla explained that those customers who remain after the tax increases go into effect likely will resort to out-of-state mail-order or bootlegged cigars.

"The result will be a significant loss of sales and excise tax revenues to the state, job losses and the closing of businesses across the state. Is this what Hawaii needs today?" McCalla asked.

In what he believes is a life-and-death struggle to save his family owned business, Drent is urging all Hawaiians to sign the petition located on his website at http://www.kauaicigar.com. The petition says, in part, that such increases in taxes "would not only irreparably harm island merchants currently selling cigars, but it would negatively impact local agriculture that produce island grown cigars and erase all tax revenue generated by the wholesale tobacco tax in Hawaii."

"Government should not be taxing out of business those businesses like ours that have every right to exist. What other businesses and products have survived after absorbing such exorbitant tax increases? There are better ways to prevent children from using non-cigarette tobacco products that don't end up destroying jobs, families and communities," said Drent.

Contact:
Tony Tortorici
678/493-0313
tony (at) tortoricipr (dot) com

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