Just Say NO (to Flavor Bans)

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There’s nothing like the scent of your favorite cigar. Rich, bold, robust flavors set the stage for however the rest of your night or day will go and create an ambiance of sophistication, celebration, or relaxation – whatever you choose. Whether you want to be brought back to sweet summer nights with some delicious honey bourbon, or you’re celebrating or relaxing with friends, or maybe you just have a hankering for something bitter and impressive, flavored cigars can and will get you there. If you haven’t already noticed, we carry a wide variety of tastes – from those inspired by alcoholic drinks to berries. We’ve got something for everyone.

Puffing on your favorite smokes and trying out new flavor profiles like Cognac, Brandy, Irish Cream is an experience we want to keep sharing with you. But some top brass in the government feel otherwise.

HERE'S THE SITUATION

" There are a lot of solutions to teenage smoking that don’t involve throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There is such a thing as overcorrecting, and this is it."

The state of California has always been a forerunner for the rest of the United States.

Looking up at palm trees at dusk

In fact, it’s been a trendsetter worldwide. While a lot of things that come out of Cali add value into the world – the movie industry, art scene, and tons more – we were reminded this summer that even the Golden State isn’t perfect. This year, the California state legislature has been going after the sale of flavored tobacco products. The linchpin behind this move is the misconception that the tobacco industry is trying to start their customers young – with flavored tobacco products a “gateway” to everything else.

This is clearly not true. A billion-dollar industry isn’t going to risk it all to market their products to middle and high schoolers. But even though we really, and I mean really disagree with the misinformation behind the flavor ban, we’re not going to pretend like we don’t understand their reasons.

It’s a fact that underage smoking isn’t healthy. Teenagers simply aren’t mature enough to know how to handle tobacco responsibly. Adults have a better handle on things, which is why we have age limits. The thing is, while we absolutely agree that kids shouldn’t get their hands on smokes, we just don’t agree that a total flavor ban is the way to go about things.

According to Reason.org, most young smokers don’t even smoke flavored tobacco, let alone cigars. The rate of e-cigarette users has dropped dramatically over the past year, and it has been going down for years. There are a lot of solutions to teenage smoking that don’t involve throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There is such a thing as overcorrecting, and this is it.

For the California legislators who voted to pass the flavor ban, though, solving the underage tobacco crisis is an all-or-nothing affair.

This is not only going to have broader effects in not just our industry, but also a possible opportunity for more black-market products, which could be more problematic than any currently perceived problems. At least what we have now is being controlled, but a ban could create utter anarchy, increasing crime in cities and endangering health in communities even more with unchecked fillers and laced products.

Seeing as this not only affects us, but also you, our valued customers, we wanted to keep you up to date on what’s been going on and how it could affect the tobacco industry in California and the rest of the United States.

HERE'S WHAT'S HAPPENING

In March 2020, the United States House of Representatives passed House Bill H.R.2339 - Protecting American Lungs and Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic US Capitol buildingAct of 2020 to the US Senate. There are several stipulations of this law that are less than ideal. These include a ban on flavors, higher taxes and prices, and a ban on non-face-to-face tobacco sales – including online sales. This will go up for a vote in the Senate - and if it passes, will go to the President to sign into law. While analysts don't feel this is likely to pass, it still definitely has a chance. 

In August 2020, California passed a law effectively banning the sale of not all, but many flavored tobacco products and flavor enhancers. Three days after California passed the tobacco flavor ban law, the state attorney general received a referendum proposal from people who oppose the ban. The referendum would give the voters – you guys – the opportunity to choose what happens.

This is good news for us.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

At least 623,212 signatures from eligible California voters had to be collected for the proposed referendum to qualify for the ballot. These needed to be collected within 90

Man signing petition

days of the law’s passing. As of Tuesday, November 24, 2020, the California Coalition for Fairness, who are leading the fight to overturn the flavor ban, said they had turned in over 1 million signatures. Since so many signatures were collected, it’s taking longer than expected to count them. Instead of the law becoming official and going into effect on January 1, 2021, as it was supposed to, California’s Attorney General and Secretary of State have agreed to postpone the start of the ban until after the signatures have been verified.

Here’s the official announcement sent out from the Attorney General’s office:

REFERENDUM CHALLENGING A 2020 LAW PROHIBITING RETAIL SALE OF CERTAIN FLAVORED TOBACCO PRODUCTS. If the required number of registered voters sign this petition and the petition is timely filed, there will be a referendum challenging a 2020 law on the next statewide ballot after the November 3, 2020, general election. The challenged law prohibits the retail sale of certain flavored tobacco products and tobacco flavor enhancers. The referendum would require a majority of voters to approve the 2020 state law before it can take effect. (20-0003.)

Now, we wait and see what happens. If the counties determine 685,534 signatures are legitimate, then the referendum will be approved for the ballot. That’s what we want. If the referendum gets onto the ballot, the flavor ban won’t happen in 2021 at all. In fact, if all goes well, then the soonest possible date the ban could go into effect would be 2 years from now – December 2022. We’re hoping it won’t come to that. The next general election will take place in California on November 8, 2022. If the referendum makes it onto the ballot, that is when California voters will have the opportunity to overturn the flavor ban.

That’s what we’re hoping for.

IN THE MEANTIME –

HERE’S WHAT WE’RE FIGHTING FOR AND WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP

Tell me it’s not enchanting when you smell that distinct scent of your favorite flavored cigar. You know the flavor simply by the special scent each unique cigar produces. Whether you enjoy the full, medium-full, medium, light-to-medium, or just light strength, you’ll always want to couple your cigar strength with the perfect flavor. The flavor that excites your taste just the way that you want it to. Some prefer their cigars sweet; others may prefer them rich and savory. There are plenty who enjoy their cigars with a bitter taste as well.

Whatever you like, whatever you enjoy, that’s what we want to keep around. We’re fighting against misinformation and fear, and for safety, convenience, and something that responsible adults should be able to enjoy in moderation. With over a million supporters of overturning the California bill signing the petition for a referendum, and we’re sure many more are out there, we know that we can get this bill overturned.

That’s what we’re hopeful about.

So – friends, fellow c store cigar aficionados and enthusiasts, we invite you to get in touch with your local representatives, state congress members, and senators. Remind them that they represent you and let them know what you think about the changes that are on the horizon. Call, write letters, make appointments to visit their offices, and gather your community. Make sure your friends know about what’s happening.

Please, take a stand with us and if and when the time comes and vote against this ban! Legal aged adults should all have every right to continue to enjoy the taste of our delectably flavored cigars.

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