The Referendum as a Tool against Cigar Rights

Missouri and North Dakota Cigar Enthusiasts
Must Rally for the Cause of Cigar Liberty on November 6

By J. Glynn Loope, Executive Director
Cigar Rights of America

As everyone knows, and many wish it was over, it's election season. Although the focus is the Presidential race for The White House, there is another characteristic of the democratic process that is significant to everyone with a passion for a great cigar – the ‘referendum.'

The referendum, on the surface, would seem to be among the most unique of American political institutions. It's your chance to voice your opinion, to cast your vote for or against a given issue, and to set the course for a particular local or state matter. But how did it get on the ballot in the first place, and why?

This is where referendums become an instrument of politics, instead of a well intentioned action to give you a greater voice in government. All too often, the referendum is in front of you because some collection of politicians didn't want to make a difficult decision, and they're passing it off – onto you.

California is famous for this, explaining much of their political malaise. This year, the Proposition 29 measure in California was a case in point. Let ‘the people' decide if tobacco taxes should increase, for a state-funded cancer research program, in a state already on the brink of economic collapse, and subsequently cause taxes on cigars to go up to 54% of the wholesale cost. It was only after the details of the proposal were known, that the measure was narrowly defeated.

It happens all too often at the local level. A smoking ban was passed in Springfield , Missouri due to ‘citizens' obtaining enough signatures on a petition to force a public referendum on a prohibitionist style smoking ban. The same happened on a statewide smoking ban in South Dakota , and an Alabama state senator, who has been unsuccessful in getting the legislature to pass a statewide smoking ban, is trying to promote a bill to get a ban, by use of a referendum.

This year, two referendums are on the ballot that will affect those that enjoy great cigars. There is a statewide smoking ban – including in cigar shops - on the ballot in North Dakota . CRA will be spreading the word through shop owners like Todd Pryor of Great Plains Smoke Shop that this referendum is an affront to small business, property rights and the patrons his shop serves.

In addition, there is a statewide tobacco tax increase on the ballot with a Missouri referendum, known as “Proposition B.” The Missouri referendum would increase the tax on cigars by 15%, to an OTP rate of 25%. CRA stands with state legislators like Missouri State Senator Jim Lembke of St. Louis , who opposes the tobacco tax increase.

Neither Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, a Democrat, or Republican challenger for the Governor's Office Dave Spence support the tobacco tax increase.

Both referendums need to be soundly defeated, but it is a very challenging task. It's simple math, which is why our opponents like referendums. There are more of them, than us.

They have not accepted that notion that cigar smokers, cigar shop owners and even the manufacturers of great cigars, just want to be left alone. They can not come to accept that if you don't want to enjoy the aroma of a cigar, stay away; don't come into the bar, lounge or shop that allows us to gather, in peace. They also have trouble understanding that adding taxes to items such as cigars, simply drives the consumer to spend their dollars elsewhere, hurting the very programs they are trying to fund.

But the true blame lies with those that even allow needless referendums on measures such as smoking bans and tax increases. City councils and state legislatures were elected for a reason - to make the tough decisions on governing, public policy and meeting the needs of the budget. Not to pass those decisions along to you and me, and thousands of voters, for the sake of appeasing a vocal constituency, using the referendum that is capable of removing that cigar from our hand, or pricing it out of reach.

If you're in Missouri or North Dakota, rally your cigar brethren for the November 6 election to defeat these measures. If you're not, look out. You could be next.

So the next time you hear about a referendum being plotted that affects the enjoyment of your favorite cigar, go to the council or committee meeting. Voice your opposition to taking “the easy way out.” Tell them to have the courage to stand up for property rights, small business, and personal choices. Tell them it's a waste of public dollars to even have that referendum, because of their inability to make the tough choice, versus the ‘politically correct' choice.

Tell them you'll remember, on their election day.

TAKE ACTION: Please Sign The White House Petition

CRA is asking its members and cigar enthusiasts across America to sign the White House petition; through the Administration's "We The People" website.

Although we have reached our goal of a minimum 25,000 signatures, it's important to keep going -- increasing visibility to our cause.

Let's send a message during this election year that cigar enthusiasts will take action to protect their freedom. This petition asks the Obama Administration to "call off" the FDA from regulating premium cigars.

Send a message and fill out the petition by going to

TAKE ACTION: Help Exempt Premium Cigars From FDA Regulation!

H.R. 1639 / S. 1461 - Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act

Did you know that on April 26, 2010, December 20, 2010, and July 7, 2011 the U.S. Food & Drug Administration publicly posted their intent to regulate cigars in the Federal Register?

Some of the measures FDA could consider, as we believe they are, include:
  • Ban on walk-in humidors, self serve cigar displays, and mail-order cigar sales;
  • Ban on all flavored cigars, that are enjoyed by legal-age adults;
  • Deface ornate, decorative cigar boxes, often considered an art form with grotesque images;
  • Ban on cigar events where free cigars (samples) could be available to legal-age adults;
  • Limits on cigar marketing and advertising;
  • Imposition of new ‘user fees' [tax] on cigars, to finance regulations;
  • Limits on special release and small-batch cigars, due to mandates that cigar blends be submitted to FDA for pre-approval before release;
  • Limits on nicotine levels on cigars to near zero, severely impacting the flavor of cigars;
  • Ban on marketing cigar merchandise.

We urge you to easily take action now by clicking the button below!

CRA Store: Featured Item!

CRA Needs Your Help!

In order to be successful in our fight to enjoy cigars without the threat of smoking bans and high taxation, CRA needs your help. Please consider partnering with CRA through two important methods:

There is strength in numbers! The more members CRA has, the greater voice we have at all levels of legislature. Please help CRA by asking your fellow cigar enthusiasts to join CRA today! Membership starts as low as $35/year.

Our fight around the country is very expensive. We would like to ask all CRA members and cigar enthusiasts to consider making a donation to CRA in any amount you choose.