The Alabama House Health Committee stalled the efforts of Representative Mary Sue McClurkin, R-Pelham, to initiate a statewide smoking ban, with no exemptions. Although Representative McClurkin said she was trying to alter her bill to get a second hearing, we hope the committee's sentiments sent a message.
You have to appreciate any legislation that has the language in it that says, “Encouraging in-state purchase of certain tobacco products.” That's HB 1956 that has now passed the Arkansas House of Representatives, and has been assigned to the Arkansas Senate Committee on Revenue and Taxation. In the wake of a horrid tax increase a couple of years ago, this legislation will bring relief to your Arkansas community tobacconist, and for the cigar enthusiasts of Arkansas. CRA commends Representative David Sanders, R-Little Rock, and Representative Andrea Lea, R-Russellville, for serving as sponsors for this legislation. If you're in Arkansas, send a message of support for HB 1956 to the Committee, and your member of the Arkansas Senate.
Senate Committee on Revenue and Taxation
Through the outstanding efforts of the Premium Cigar Retailers Association of Maryland, International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association, Cigar Association of America and the CRA Maryland members that contacted their legislators, the proposed (and drastic) tax increase on cigars, that would have raised the state tax to 90%, appears to be defeated for the year. The Senate Budget & Taxation Committee issued an unfavorable report on SB 654, and the matter seems to be put to rest – for awhile.
Mississippi and West Virginia
All efforts to implement a statewide smoking ban and OTP tax increase on cigars in Mississippi and West Virginia seem to be defeated for the year.
The effort to get a $1 tax cap on premium cigars in New York got a boost when the language was included in the recent version of the Senate budget. This will provide great relief to patrons and professional retail tobacconists from the state's onerous 75% OTP, initiated under former Governor Paterson. We're hoping that the Assembly and Governor Cuomo agree with the New York Senate.
All ten filed bills that would have expanded the state smoking restrictions and increased taxes on cigars, were defeated in committee. CRA commends the Cigar Association of Virginia and the CRA Virginia members that contacted their legislators.