Going into this long weekend, here’s a special guest post from our friends at Famous Smoke Shop, please visit their cigar smoker’s right hub at http://fda.famous-smoke.com/
“With All Due Respect, Mr. Baker, I’d Like to Keep My Job”By Gary Korb
When I moved from my native state of New Jersey to Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley in 2003, there were some nice advantages. Among them were fewer traffic jams, lower taxes and more places where I could smoke premium cigars, including my place of work, a national online premium cigar retailer. Back then, you could light-up a cigarette or a cigar at most bars, some restaurants, and of course, the cigar stores.
Eventually, the State passed a more restrictive smoking law. No more smoking in restaurants, offices, or bars, with some very few exceptions. No surprise, since this was the case in my former New Jersey, and anti-smoking regs just tend to go viral. But I could still enjoy cigar in my company office thanks to a special State permit, and fortunately, the retail cigar store and restaurant/cigar bar my company also owns was granted the appropriate licenses, etc. Yes, we played by the rules, and I, along with my fellow employees were able to continue doing one of the things we enjoy most – smoking a good premium handmade cigar. (One half of our building is cordoned-off as a non-smoking area for employees who do not partake.) Besides, smoking cigars is part of my job. That’s what I do. I smoke and write about premium cigars for a living. And I’m not alone. Pennsylvania also happens to be home to several other nationally-known online cigar retailers, not to mention dozens of brick & mortar tobacco shops owned by hard-working businessmen and women across the State.
Everything’s going fine until I see a news blurb on this Cigar Smokers’ Rights page about State Representative, Matthew Baker, who has introduced House Bill HB-1309 to the Pennsylvania General Assembly. If passed it would prohibit smoking in premium cigar retail stores, cigar bars, private clubs, casinos and all other indoor businesses and venues in Pennsylvania. REALLY, Mr. Baker? Isn’t it enough that the tobacco retailers in Pennsylvania have a hard enough time fighting-off tobacco tax increases, and you want to just pull the whole rug out from under all of us? If this bill should pass, a lot of people would be out of work and companies like mine would be hit the hardest. That’s a lot of tax dollars that the State would soon be out of, as well.
Then there are all of the consumers, the cigar smokers who not only buy their cigars at local cigars shops here, but also have the opportunity to light-up in them. NOTE: Most cigar smokers do not smoke inside their homes. They need places like cigar stores, private clubs, or the Sands Casino, for example.
Fighting taxes and the FDA is one thing, but fighting for our right to smoke, which is still legal in the United States, is another. Having spent almost 16 years in the cigar business, I’ve grown accustomed to the shrill harping of the anti-smoking crowd, but this goes beyond the pale. Therefore, I want to encourage my fellow Pennsylvania cigar smokers to fight the passage of House Bill HB-1309 by every legal means necessary. (One of our customers suggested a protest herf in front of Rep. Baker’s house.) Since protests are en vogue these days, maybe that’s what it’s come down to. Or to put it another way by paraphrasing anchorman Howard Beale’s famous line from the movie, Network, “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!”
Gary Korb is the Executive Editor at CigarAdvisor.com, a premium cigar news, information and review website.
Thank you to Gary for sharing this, and Famous Smoke Shop. Until the next time,