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Written by Gary J. Arzt

Friday, 23 January 2009

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JLA: We started developing TU from the perspective of what I would have liked and needed to help me succeed as a retail Tobacconist. In fact, we have helped and will continue to consult with new stores to help them succeed - this is a big part of our mission. Frankly, I think the industry/profession would be a little better off today if Tobacconist University had existed twenty years ago (but I was only 15 then), but we cannot lament an imaginary past.  All we can do now is fight to preserve our future.  I believe we need credibility to preserve our existence going forward and every Tobacconist that gets certified goes a long way towards achieving that goal.  Just think of how glorified the wine industry and Sommeliers are; then imagine the potential of Certified Tobacconists.

At this point, we are the Official Curriculum Resource for Professional Tobacconists for the IPCPR, and they are our Exclusive Organizational Partner.  In fact, we Certify and promote all IPCPR member Tobacconists for Free!!! Yet we receive no money from the IPCPR; that is how much we believe in the IPCPR membership!  They are the heart of this industry and B&M Tobacconists.

Puff: Have they adopted the programme, promoted it in any way? 

JLA: Currently the IPCPR has us linked and represented on the IPCPR website we are working closely with the IPCPR's public relations firm to add as much value as possible.  Plus, we get the occasional mention in IPCPR materials and a booth at the annual convention - which is all excellent.  We are working on integrating and synergizing our efforts to achieve maximum results.  Hopefully, with the horrific S-CHIP out of the way we can start to plan and execute our mutually beneficial agendas in a more aggressive way.  TU tries to be proactive and long-term while organizations like the IPCPR, CAA, and CRA are forced to be on the defensive much of the time....   Currently our challenge with respect to the IPCPR and other industry organizations and companies, is to find beneficial ways for them to leverage TU to their own success.   

Puff: Jorge, you have now launched an effort to gather petition signatures seeking the passage of Federal law to Preserve the Tobacconist,"THE TOBACCONIST PRESERVATION ACT." Would you explain that to our readers, please? 

JLA: Speaking of being proactive; The Tobacconist Preservation Act is our 'line in the sand'; the absolute most important right we must fight for.  Local and state governments/legislators have been whittling away at permissible places to smoke and that now includes Tobacconists - including the whole state of Delaware. The Tobacconist Preservation Act Petition reads as follows:

"The Tobacconist Preservation Act is a proposed Federal Law which will preserve and protect Tobacconist and consumer rights to smoke in retail Tobacconist stores."

While TU had no political aspirations or agenda, we must do all that we can to protect Tobacconists' rights.  The TPA was launched on January 1st, 2009.

We believe, and our academic curriculum supports, explains, and justifies, the necessity for Tobacconists and Consumers to sample and enjoy their products in-store.  A Tobacconist must be able to sample their products to adequately explain its qualities to consumers; just as consumers must be able to taste the products to make informed purchasing decisions.  Savoring our products is an absolute necessity for Tobacconists!

Puff: How many signatures are you seeking? Once you have them, what will be the next step? 

JLA: We are seeking only as many signatures as it takes to get The Tobacconist Preservation Act passed.  Our temporary goal is One Million Signatures, and this will take a few years possibly.  Ultimately, in order to be successful we will need the whole industry to get involved and become activists.  We contend that this is a proactive endeavor, which must be initiated now before we get put on the defensive fighting for this basic right.

Currently paper petitions have been sent to our Certified Tobacconists and we are looking for funding/Sponsorship to disseminate paper petitions to all IPCPR members.  In addition we are using web-based electronic petitions and are currently developing one central petition on the TU website: www.tobacconistuniversity.org. While we have just over 1,000 signatures in the last few weeks, we are planning for exponential growth as consumers become aware and speak up - the online petitions have a comments section and those are a great read!






Comments 

 
0 # President TUJorge Armenteros 2009-01-24 04:28
Thank to Gary Arzt and Puff for writing and publishing this article. The questions were great and I thouroughly enjoyed the process. Looking forward to many more years of productive and proactive communications...

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