Protect the Innocent from Second Hand Smoke

Dear Innocents, I understand your annoyance at being subjected to offensive odors and the health risks associated with smoke wafting about like a boney hand with a mind bent on murder. And, as a cigar smoker, I cringe at the idea of raising the ire and lowering the life expectancy of most non-smokers. If I […]

AFGL: Saints, Bans and BSG

A Few Good Links for this Sunday include: a new Catholic Saint, a couple of smoking bans and where you can watch Battlestar Galactica online. From MSNBC: [Pope John Paul II] is being beatified on the day the church celebrates the movable Feast of Divine Mercy, which this year happens to fall on May 1, […]

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

One Step Forward

As a cigar smoker you can’t help but pay attention to the never-ending assault on our freedom to smoke cigars. So, when there is a nominally positive step, like was seen when a proposed smoking ban was narrowly defeated in Indianapolis, I am happy.

Unfortunately, it is only a matter of time before Indianapolis follows in the footsteps of so many other cities throughout America (and the rest of the world) and seriously restricts the rights of smokers.

Two Steps Back

Remember my post a couple of weeks ago about how the FDA had banned almost all flavored cigarettes (except menthol) and how this would probably lead to a total ban on all flavored tobacco products? If not then you should go back and read it because this is exactly what is happening in New York City (thanks Bloomberg).

According to Cigar Aficionado, New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has signed into law a ban on the sale of all flavored tobacco products within city limits. From Cigar Aficionado:

“Introductory number 433-A would ban the sale of tobacco products with characterizing flavors, except for menthol, mint, or wintergreen, in any location other than a tobacco bar,” said Bloomberg in the official press release. “This bill improves upon the recent federal ban on flavored cigarettes and makes New York City the first city to protect children from all flavored products on the market.

Again with the “protection of children” shtick. Wouldn’t banning the sale of tobacco products accomplish that goal? Oh, wait, that’s right, IT IS ALREADY ILLEGAL TO SELL TOBACCO PRODUCTS TO MINORS!!!

Basically, what all the smoke-Nazis are doing is infringing on the rights of adults to supposedly “protect the children.” And sure, you would be right if you said that flavored tobacco products are more palatable for minors than the real stuff but that doesn’t change the fact that laws are already in place that prohibit the sale of all tobacco products to minors and that is the way it should be.

But I’ll play this rhetorical game with the smoze-Nazis. If it is copacetic to ban flavored tobacco products because it appeals more to children than a Partagas Black Label cigar then shouldn’t we also ban all flavored alcohol? I’m talking about those flavored vodka brands, mixed drinks, and the such.

Why is it alright to ban flavored tobacco products because it is viewed as a gateway to a lifetime of blah, blah, blah but flavored alcohol is alright even though it could also be categorized as a gateway to a lifetime of blah, blah, blah? There is, of course, little difference between the two (and, to be honest, I would wholeheartedly support a ban of all flavored vodkas… I’m kidding – sort of).

I guess the only silver lining to this whole story is that thanks to the repressive regime that is running New York (both the governor and Mayor Bloomberg) the rich are leaving that state in droves. It’s only a matter of time before those politicians will need to raise more tax revenue to cover their grandiose spending programs and that is when they will “reluctantly” legalize flavored tobacco products again.

Flavored Cigarettes Banned… Flavored Cigars Next?

A couple of weeks ago Patrick S at The Stogie Guys wrote a post titled Stogie News: Flavored Cigarette Ban Hits, Cigars Next? Short answer: Give ’em time.

From another blog:

One of the problems with the new legislation is that the law does not clearly denote what constitutes a cigarette.

The most common distinction between a cigar and a cigarette is in the way each is wrapped, with cigars being rolled in tobacco leaves and cigarettes being cased in paper. Officials have been “deliberately vague” in letting the public know whether the ban would apply to flavored small cigars and cigarillos.

In a letter to tobacco manufacturers the agency noted that the ban applied to all “cigarette-like” products, regardless of how they are packaged and/or marketed.

Part of the confusion is due to the strict deadline that the agency had to meet. It only had 90 days to put the ban on flavored cigarettes into effect.

Catherine Lorraine, a lawyer in the agency’s tobacco center, said, “We will be looking at products on an individual basis to determine if it meets that aspect of the legislation.”

The post goes on to explain that the reason for the ambiguity is due to the short amount of time the poor FDA had to create these new bans. It had nothing to do with the FDA wanting to create regulations so broad that they could easily be expanded in the future. No way!

Just remember, the FDA could have just enforced laws already on the book that prohibit tobacco consumption by minors. Instead of doing the sensible thing, they just went ahead and banned flavored cigarettes. And, thanks to what I think was a purposefully broad regulation, flavored cigarillos are next. Just you watch.

Cuba Cuts Back on Cigar Tobacco Acreage

Despite all the rosy projections for the cigar industry I have read and heard about for the last couple of years it looks like Cuba is going to cut back production by 30%.

Cash-short Cuba is slashing the amount of land devoted to growing its famous tobacco by more than 30 percent as the global recession and worldwide spread of smoking bans bite into sales of the country’s prized cigars.

Demand for Cuba’s cigars fell 3 percent in 2008 and earlier was reported down 15 percent in 2009 because of the recession and the smoking bans adopted in a growing number of places as a public health measure.

Cuba’s National Statistics Office, in a report posted on its web page (www.one.cu), said land to be planted with tobacco for next year’s crop had dropped to 49,000 acres (19,800 hectares), down from 70,000 acres (28,200 hectares), which was in turn less than 2008.

[SOURCE]

The theory from some of the cheerleaders in the cigar industry (Ahem, Cigar Aficionado) was that higher taxes and smoking bans would not affect premium cigar sales too much because, well, we will still buy expensive cigars despite all the roadblocks erected in front of us… just because we like premium cigars so much and our wallets are always full of money.

It is probably true that the Cubans are cutting back production of their lower level cigars; so Montecristo, Bolivar and Cohiba will not be affected as much – I’m guessing. It’s also true that the recession is having a significant impact on cigar sales. Actually, now that I think about it, according to Greg Mankiw’s blog:

The consumption of high-consumption households is more exposed to fluctuations in aggregate consumption and income than that of low-consumption households in the Consumer Expenditure (CEX) Survey.

Accompanying chart:

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="The exposure to aggregate consumption growth of households in the top 10 percent of the consumption distribution in the CEX is about five times that of households in the bottom 80 percent. Given real aggregate per capita consumption growth about 3 percentage points less than its historical mean during the past year, these figures predict that the ratio of consumption of the top 10 percent to the bottom 80 percent has fallen by about 15 percentage points (relative to trend)."][/caption]

Basically, what this graph shows is that during a downturn there is less cigar money; especially amongst the wealthier cigar smokers.

I don’t think it’s too controversial to claim that the goal of governments all over the world is to create a permanent recession in the tobacco industry. Through increased taxes and more aggressive smoking bans, governments are in the process of destroying the cigar industry. It will take time but, with small, incremental steps, governments all over the world are working overtime to make cigars too expensive even for the so-called wealthy people who smoke them.

Cuba cutting back tobacco acreage may turn out to be a reaction to the global recession. Or it could be a harbinger of more serious cutbacks to come.

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