If one thing became painfully clear in 2011, it’s that cigar smokers have clear, established enemies that they have to fight back against in 2012. The anti-smoking groups, the FDA, the government and their ever-increasing taxation – the opponents are notable and numerous. They won’t stop until they’ve eliminated every last cigar from the United States or they’re taxing you to the point where it is prohibitively expensive and drives cigar stores across the country out of business.
Standing up for your cigar rights is fairly simple, but like anything worth fighting for and accomplishing, it does take some work.
First and foremost, join Cigar Rights of America, the consumer-advocacy group working to defend the rights of cigar smokers across the country through lobbying, getting in front of elected officials, and making the case for you to be able to light up your favorite cigar without interference from the government or those who don’t want you to be able to enjoy a cigar. Membership starts at just $35 a year – less than the cost of one cup of coffee a month.
Next, write your elected representatives often. Start by filling out the form on CRA’s website to ask your U.S. Representative and Senators to support H.R. 1639 and S. 1461, the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act. This will keep the FDA’s hands off of your cigars and prevent what many consider to be the most potentially damaging piece of legislation regarding cigars to ever be enacted. It might not be prohibition, but it will be pretty close.
These are two things that will have lasting impressions and can be taken care of in just a few minutes.
One of the harder things to do is to stay plugged into all the news happening in your community, your state and across the country. This is where CRA’s news feed comes in handy – and you don’t have to be a member to take advantage of it. But reading the news is only half of the battle – you have to act on that news, and that means contacting your local officials.
Always remember that elected officials depend on you for your vote – and if they become worried that you won’t vote for them, they are more likely to listen to you. While you have to establish how important cigar rights factor into your voting decisions, let your elected officials know that you value and demand your rights to enjoy a cigar. You need to write them on a regular basis to make sure they don’t forget that you’re watching them. The anti-tobacco groups are contacting them frequently and feverishly – you need to do the same. Consider setting a monthly reminder on your calendar to send an e-mail or letter addressing the issues, sharing a story from the cigar store, or explaining how frustrated you are by the taxes or smoking bans.
If you value your right to smoke a cigar, there is no better resolution to make for 2012 than to stay vigilant when it comes to defending your cigar rights. To put it bluntly – a significant number of your fellow Americans want to take away your right to enjoy a cigar, regardless of where or when you do it. They don’t want you smoking at home, in your car, at your local cigar store, in a park, on the sidewalk, on the golf course – basically anywhere, and they won’t stop until they get their way. They are contacting your legislators all the time – and if your legislators don’t hear from the other side, the pro-cigar side, they will assume it simply doesn’t exist.
By speaking up, speaking loudly, and making sure that those who make the decisions and laws in your area know you oppose any law that infringes on your right to enjoy a cigar.
Make 2012 the year you don’t let any more of your cigar rights be taken away from you by the anti-smoking zealots. Together, the cigar community can protect what rights they have left and fight back against the continued attacks that will be waged in the coming year.
Stay up to date on what’s happening with cigars by following Patrick on Twitter – @PHXCigarGuy – or by subscribing to the column via e-mail or adding it to your RSS reader.