Utah Moves Against Tobacco Ill-advised, Says Premium Cigar Association

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The efforts of some Utah state legislators to out-do one another in their efforts to ban and tax legal tobacco products work against each other and are going to backfire, says the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

The efforts of some Utah state legislators to out-do one another in their efforts to ban and tax legal tobacco products work against each other and are going to backfire, says the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

“These kinds of proposals are ill-advised and should be dumped as bad ideas,” according to Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR which maintains that business owners should be left to decide for themselves to ban or not to ban and that Utah Governor Gary Herbert has promised “no new taxes of any kind.”

“Increased tobacco taxes would bring a burden of higher costs and broken promises to nearly 10 percent of the Utah adult population that smokes, most of whom will simply buy their tobacco online or out of state to avoid paying these new taxes,” according to McCalla.

“Not all tobacco products are the same. Premium cigars and pipes are different from, say, cigarettes in that they are discretionary products enjoyed only occasionally like a fine wine or single-malt scotch. As a result, they should be taxed differently.”

McCalla suggested that the current 35 percent excise tax on tobacco products other than cigarettes could be replaced by a 50 cent tax cap per hand-made cigar. He said such a tax is generating positive results in five other states, including Oregon, Washington, Rhode Island, Iowa and Wisconsin.

The IPCPR is a non-profit organization of more than 2,000 cigar store owners and manufacturers and distributors of premium cigars and pipe tobacco.

McCalla said most IPCPR members are owners of small, mom-and-pop operations that pay taxes and employ local people. Legislated smoking bans, he said, result in lower sales of premium cigars, pipe tobacco and other tobacco products which reduce tax revenues for the state and, more importantly, result in lost jobs and failed businesses.

“The last thing Utah needs is lower tax revenues, lost jobs and closed businesses,” McCalla said.
The public is being scammed by what McCalla called “neo-prohibitionists and tobaccophiles hell-bent on spreading lies to build their own power.”

“The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, for example, has established safe levels of tobacco smoke and those levels are up to 25,000 higher than normally found in any bar or restaurant,” McCalla pointed out.

Instead, McCalla suggested that the free market continue to set its own rules by having business owners decide whether or not their establishments should be smoke-free.

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Tony Tortorici
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