Friday, October 19, 2007

Saved by Veto

By Gary Korb

OK, we got lucky this time around. The House was unable to override the SCHIP bill veto, hence, no increase in the cigar tax - for now. But let's not start dancing in the streets just yet. Basically what we cigar smokers have gotten is an extension; probation, in another sense. It's good for the cigar industry's bottom line, but a cigar tax increase will come back to haunt us, if we don't keep reminding our representatives that it makes no sense to over tax premium cigars. (If you want to know the reasons why, see Nick Perdomo's letter posted on 10/8 at www.CigarAdvisor.com.)

Moving forward, it's now time to say thank you. If you were among those who helped fight the good fight, then this congratulatory message from the RTDA (now the IPCPR) is for you.

"We wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your perseverance, tenacity, vigilance, and persistence in contacting your U.S. congressmen and congresswomen, and your senators through phone calls, emails, faxes, and personal visits to their district and Capital Hill offices. Without your support and direct action we simply would not have made the noise we did in Congress, gaining the attention of influential members that now understand our niche community-industry cannot absorb a massive tax increase and continue to exist.

This is only the first round in what will most likely be a continuing battle for the next several months. As SCHIP expansion and extension of the current program will be sought by congressional democrats. We have already begun communicating and working with congressional leaders and their states, taking the position that if a tax increase in cigars must exist, that a realistic, manageable increase must be a part of the overall proposal.

A special thank you goes out to the manufacturers within our industry for their efforts throughout the United States and Latin America in mobilizing support against this tax increase. Through their coordinated efforts between the Latin American governments, and their counterparts in the United States, they illustrated and successfully conveyed the ramifications of this tax increase on the Latin American citizens and artisans who rely on the handmade cigar industry for a viable, living income. Key legislators now understand it is more than just a pleasure for consumers, but a way of life for those artisans who produced handmade cigars. Because of the handmade cigar industry, many of these citizens would not have reasonable access to medical and dental care, education, and other social services provided by manufacturers based in these small countries.

Thank you again for your efforts and direct action, for if we are to succeed, we must all hang together, or we will hang separately."

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