Written by Puff Staff

Saturday, 07 July 2012

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newsleadpicThis week, we look at one state’s new regulation on tobacco and cigar events coming up all over the country.





Smokers Riled Over Maryland Tax Hike

As the FDA ponders placing new regulations on the sales of cigars, one state has already raised taxes more than four-fold on certain tobacco products. Will this move keep mini-cigars out of the hands of kids or just impose a hardship on low-income adults who smoke?


As of Sunday, July 1, the Maryland tax on mini-cigars jumped up to $.70 on the dollar, making it the 10th highest in the country. The state’s General Assembly raised the tax on the small cigars to match that on cigarettes, doubled the wholesale tax on smokeless tobacco to 30% but kept the tax on premium cigars at 15%. While this is no doubt welcome news for fanciers of finer cigars, reps for the mini-cigar industry blast it as “economic discrimination.”

According to Bruce Bereano, a lobbyist for the Maryland Association of Tobacco and Candy Wholesalers, “People in urban areas, they have to pay 70 percent when they can hardly afford it, and those in the $1,500 suits smoking the premium cigars, there is no increase at all. That is class warfare.”

Those who sell the small cigars find the new taxes confusing. Fletcher Groben, owner of Fader’s Tobacconist in Towson, MD, told a reporter he had no idea how much he would owe the state when the law took effect. “It is very frustrating. Basically people who don't even understand the business passed a law.”

Groben added that he wasn’t sure exactly which products qualified as “non-premium” cigars, and is worried about the effect of the price hike on customers. “The problem I have with tax increases is, here in Maryland, it's very easy to go over to Delaware and pick stuff up if you want to. I do think it drives customers away.”

The small cigars became a target of regulators when they became popular with teens, a group that is especially fond of the flavored ones. Maryland’s health secretary Dr. Joshua Sharfstein commented, “Wild apple? Pineapple? I mean, they smell like Bubble-Yum.”

Another supporter of the tax on small cigars is Baltimore Democratic state Senator Verna Jones-Rodwell, who said of the flavored smokes, “They way that they're marketed, the way that they're put out in the community stores, it seems that their audience is children — young children.”

Maryland smokers are already getting a taste of what life will be like if the U.S. FDA succeeds with its planned regulations on certain types of cigars.

NY Tobacconists to Hold Stogathon July 24

Cigar sellers in New York state are making a preemptive strike against more tobacco legislation, and they’re doing it in style. The New York Tobacconists Association, an activist group that fights anti-tobacco legislation and taxation, is holding its first annual Stogathon later this month. Tickets are $250 each.


NYTA president Ron Melendi explained, “The Stogathon is the New York Tobacconists Association’s first annual fundraiser. The purpose of the event is to raise money so that the professional tobacconists can have their voices heard in Albany, that these small businesses are suffering because of excessive taxation and a full-out frontal attack on these businesses.”

The Stogathon will take place on Tuesday, July 24, at the Water’s Edge Restaurant in Long Island City, NY. Guests will be treated to a cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvres preceding a lavish seated dinner and silent auction. Those attending can admire the Manhattan skyline while relaxing with a premium cigar from brands including Alec Bradley, Camacho, Cusano, Davidoff, Drew Estate, La Aurora, La Flor Dominicana, Nat Sherman, Nestor Miranda, Pepín García, Perdomo, Quesada, Rocky Patel and Tatuaje.

Tickets for the Stogathon can be purchased at

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