Tallahassee, Florida (PRWEB) April 26, 2009
Much has been written about the negative effect on Florida-based cigar manufacturers that increased state taxes on tobacco will have, but it's the mom-and-pop smoke shop owners and their employees and customers who will be hurt the most, according to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.
The IPCPR has more than 2,000 members worldwide, 290 of which are located throughout the state of Florida.
"Most of our retail members are mom-and-pop operations which hire local, neighborhood folks and generate sales and income taxes that help fill the state and federal treasuries," said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR. "The federal government just slapped the industry with increased tobacco taxes of up to 2,500 percent. Now comes the state of Florida where some of its legislators have decided that isn't enough."
The Florida Senate passed a budget bill last week that includes a $1-per-ounce tax increase on cigars sold within the state. The original version of this legislation applied the tax increase to all cigars manufactured in Florida, no matter where they are sold.
"While we are grateful that Florida cigar manufacturers would be spared the additional taxes on their products sold outside the state, the tax would still apply to cigars sold in the state and it is our Florida retailers and their customers who will still suffer as a result," McCalla explained.
McCalla appealed to members of the Florida House of Representatives to eliminate the proposed tobacco tax increase from its version of the budget.
"The price of cigars and other tobacco products is going up significantly with the recent federal increase and our industry, no doubt, will be hurt by these increases. That means thousands of jobs are at stake, along with millions of dollars in tax revenues if our retailers are driven out of business by these onerous increases," he said.
McCalla explained that cigars are more a hobby than a habit and that, according to IPCPR promotional literature; they make "ordinary moments special and special moments extraordinary." As such, they are subject to purchase patterns by consumers that are highly susceptible to pricing changes, particularly increases that would limit more frequent enjoyment of these legal, adult products.
"Hand-made cigars are like fine wines. They are made to be enjoyed by adults on appropriate occasions. To over-tax either would be to akin to killing the goose that lays the golden egg," McCalla said.
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