Tobacconists Say Utah Legislators Head for Unintended Consequences with HB0170
Salt Lake City, Utah? February 12, 2011 – The unintended consequences of HB0170 for professional tobacconists and their pipe-smoking adult customers is not unlike ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater,’ according to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.
The original version of HB0170 prohibited the sale of any kind of flavored tobacco product. As amended, it exempts cigars, but still includes aromatic pipe tobaccos as illegal to sell or purchase in Utah.
“As we understand it, the bill is intended to keep under aged youth from purchasing smokeless and other tobacco products,” said Fred Cvar who, along with his wife, Joan, own The Tinder Box in Salt Lake City.
“We have always been against the sale of any tobacco products to anyone under the age of 19 and there are plenty of laws that already prevent that,” Cvar added. “HB0170, unfortunately, also would prevent the sale of virtually all pipe tobaccos to our mature adult customers.? Such tobaccos, cut and blended especially for use in briar and meerschaum pipes have been enjoyed in all societies around the world since the 1600s.”
“We join our Utah tobacconist members in strongly urging Utah state representatives to include such pipe tobaccos in the exemptions to this bill which, if necessary at all, should have a laser-like focus on elimination of sales of all tobacco products to under aged persons,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.
The IPCPR is a non-profit organization of more than 2,000 cigar store owners and manufacturers and distributors of premium cigars and pipe tobaccos.
McCalla said most IPCPR members are owners of small, mom-and-pop operations that pay taxes and employ local people.? Elimination of adult oriented aromatic pipe tobaccos from the Utah marketplace, he said, would result in virtual elimination of pipe tobacco sales to adults which will reduce legitimate tax revenues for the state and, more importantly, result in lost jobs and failed businesses.
“The last thing Utah needs is lower tax revenues, lost jobs and closed businesses,” McCalla said.
Utah Legislators Ill-advised in Moves Against Tobacco, Says Premium Cigar Association
Mood of America Says No New Taxes in Utah, Reminds Cigar Group
Salt Lake City, Utah January 27, 2010 – As Utah legislators contemplate raising taxes on tobacco products, the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association is reminding them that voters across the board are against new taxes and favor delivery on campaign promises.
Some Utah state representatives and senators are talking about new tobacco taxes even as Governor Gary Herbert has proclaimed that there shall be no new taxes of any kind.? The IPCPR, a non-profit association of some 2,000 retail tobacconists and manufacturers and distributors of premium cigars, pipes, tobaccos and related accessories, called this the kind of “disconnect” that is leading to voter revolts across America.
“Utah voters are among the most savvy in the country,” said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.? “They know when they are being led down a primrose path intentionally or otherwise by their legislators who say one thing and do another.? And, when legislators do what the voters don’t want done, new, more responsive legislators are elected by those voters.”
McCalla said it was important for Utah legislators to realize that the reasons they have been given by anti-tobacco groups to call for across the board tax increases on all tobacco products reflect the misguided conclusions of poorly informed special interest groups.
“First, the governor said ‘no new taxes of any kind’.? Increased tobacco taxes would bring a burden of higher costs and broken promises to nearly 10 percent of the Utah adult population that smokes, most of whom will simply buy their tobacco online or out of state to avoid paying these new taxes.
“Second, not all tobacco products are the same.? Premium cigars and pipes are different from, say, cigarettes in that they are discretionary products enjoyed only occasionally like a fine wine or single-malt scotch.? As a result, they should be taxed differently.”?
McCalla suggested that the current 35 percent excise tax on tobacco products other than cigarettes could be replaced by a 50 cent tax cap per hand-made cigar. He said such a tax? is generating positive results in five other states, including Oregon, Washington, Rhode Island, Iowa and Wisconsin.
“Third, human behavior can’t be legislated.? Some lawmakers say increased tobacco taxes will prevent youths from smoking. That would be throwing the baby out with the bath water.? Our IPCPR retail members are adamantly diligent about selling their products only to age-appropriate adult customers.? For other retailers, there are plenty of laws on the books that, enforced properly, will accomplish that same objective. Besides, those neo-prohibitionists who make unsubstantiated claims of youth smoking are basing their estimates on overly vivid imaginations.”
McCalla urged Utah legislators to drop their consideration of “job-killing higher tobacco taxes that will actually result in lower tax revenues because people will find ways to avoid paying those new taxes.”
As two tobacco tax bills languish on Utah’s Capitol Hill, the $4 million fund for advertising and marketing of a smoking cessation program is also being raided.
This combination is especially disturbing to anti-tobacco advocates.
“We knew that every agency was going to have cuts across the board,” said Beverly May, regional advocacy director for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “But this wasn’t just a cut — it was an elimination.”
May and others lament the siphoning off of the $4 million, which paid for targeted newspaper, radio and TV ads, along with advocacy work in the schools — directing smokers to the state’s quit-line and discouraging youth from picking up the habit.
The double-whammy against anti-smoking efforts means that the tobacco giants can protect their profits and their market, said Michael Siler, of the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network. He added that as smokers die off, a new crop is needed.
“We have $345 million in tobacco-related health care costs in the state a year,” Siler said. “A majority of those costs are paid by the state, by hospital systems from compensated care and by citizens in the form of additional taxes.”
Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. set the bar high before the legislative session, advocating a $3-per-pack tax on cigarettes and removal of the sales tax on food.
While Siler and May focus more on health impacts, lawmakers and tax watchdogs warily eye the state’s bottom line.
Lawmakers have reached consensus to raise the vehicle registration fee $20, for a $50 million budget boost, Senate President Michael Waddoups said.
But tobacco tax fervor has all but fizzled in the halls of power.
“There’s an excellent chance for the cigarette tax,” said Waddoups. Just not this year, he added.
A 50-cent to $1.50 additional tax per pack could serve as a backstop next year if the economy continues to slide, Waddoups added.
The fiscal note on Rep. Paul Ray’s HB219 projects $25.9 million in revenue from the $1.30-per-pack tax in 2010. And yet, with four days left in this year’s session, the bill has yet to land on the House floor for debate.
“It would become the Evanston, Wyoming economic recovery act,” said Royce Van Tassell of Ray’s bill.
Van Tassell, vice president of the Utah Taxpayers Association, envisions smokers banding together to purchase cartons of cigarettes out of state if Utah’s smokes get too pricey.
He also considers it bad policy to impose a hefty tax on a narrow group of people.
Sen. Allen Christensen’s SB114, similar to Ray’s, was defeated last month in committee.
Siler and May suspect more than sheer economics at work, noting the large number of tobacco lobbyists on Capitol Hill. Three lobbyists contacted by The Tribune said their contracts would not allow them to speak to the news media.
“I don’t think it’s a conspiracy on the part of legislators,” Siler said. “But I think its a conspiracy on the part of big tobacco.”
Last fiscal year the state collected $46,410,880 in cigarette taxes
and $7,314,289 in tobacco products tax. Both are in the general fund.
Richard Okelberry is from River Heights, Utah. For more information about secondhand smoking myths, visit www.lincolnsblog.com.
Utah lifts VFW smoking ban
By Brock Vergakis
Salt Lake City – Standing behind the nautical-theme bar at Veterans of Foreign War Post 3586, Sandy Bonner savors the Newport cigarette she’s smoking while a small crowd of customers in their 20s watches a basketball game in a nearly empty room.
By Jay Evensen, Deseret Morning News
The E. coli-in-spinach scare came at just the right time — the right time, that is, to put some perspective on the trans fatty acid scare.
The perspective is this: It’s pretty darned hard to go through life knowing exactly what’s going to hurt you and what isn’t. And, therefore, it’s fairly ridiculous for governments to try to micromanage what we consume.
If the point is to protect us against ourselves, good luck. Next thing you know, someone will be suing Popeye.
Meanwhile, the best we can do (statistically, anyway) is to follow common sense. Even at that, history teaches there is a high likelihood we’re all going to die someday.
I know, that’s startling news to read on a peaceful Sunday morning.
In some ways, this is a difficult column to write. A decade or so ago I was defending my support of the nation’s first smoking bans in buildings, airports, etc., against people who assured me the government, if it won that fight, would soon come after the things we eat. And, well, here we are.
But if I have to admit that some supporters of smokers’ rights were correct, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong to continue expanding bans on cigarettes in public places (as Salt Lake City currently is contemplating). Nor does it mean it’s wrong to draw the line somewhere, such as at the dinner table.
Simply put, we know beyond a reasonable doubt that some things are harmful, not just to the people who consume them but to people who are around the people who consume them. If the person in the seat next to me is eating an unusually tasty order of french fries, I’m not likely to get hurt no matter how much I inhale.
But if I’m gorging myself on fatty foods all the time, not exercising and gaining lots of weight — well, I shouldn’t need a bureaucrat to tell me I’m heading in the wrong direction.
This has become an issue in recent weeks, because the health commissioner in New York City, backed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has proposed a citywide ban on the use of trans fats in all restaurants. Chicago has at least looked at a similar ban, and other cities are likely to follow suit. The New York mayor even brought Robert De Niro into the debate, noting the actor owns several restaurants that don’t use the fats.
Bloomberg stood right next to De Niro and admitted he loves oily popcorn, fries and other fatty foods but that he eats them without trans fats, which are made by a chemical process first developed in the 19th century to make certain oils last longer.
Does this mean he pigs out on this stuff using saturated fats? Frankly, that doesn’t sound too smart, either.
I’m no expert, but it seems there is conflicting scientific data on what trans fats can do. This much seems certain: Trans fats add significantly to cholesterol levels and, subsequently, heart problems. But then, saturated fats can do the same if you eat tons of them all the time.
Common sense ought to dictate that people eat more fruits and vegetables and get plenty of exercise. But you can’t legislate that. At least, you shouldn’t.
Meanwhile, if government begins outlawing trans fats, it needs to look seriously at all the other potentially harmful ingredients in things we eat. There’s no end in sight once you embark on that road. And, as with DDT, cyclamates and other substances thought to be horribly unsafe, further research may produce different results.
Why not simply rely on a good dose of education and some faith in the market, which seemed to work well in alerting people about the problems with spinach and lettuce? Require labels on foods that contain trans fats, if you must, including at restaurants. The market already gives us no-caffeine Coke, and a growing number of products have “no-trans fats” labels. We should be allowed to make our own choices, and pay the consequences either way.
Jay Evensen is editor of the Deseret Morning News editorial page. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Senate bill: Their poll agrees with the Trib’s that Utahns are against forcing bars to be smoke-free
By Dawn House
The Salt Lake Tribune
Bar and private club owners lined up Tuesday against a bill that would ban smoking in their establishments, and unveiled a poll showing that respondents are opposed to more restrictions on tobacco.
SB19, which would bar smoking in private clubs, taverns, fraternal meeting places, country clubs and rental facilities for such events as weddings, awaits a vote before the full House. The Senate passed the measure 17-12.
The statewide poll, commissioned by the Utah Hospitality Association, shows that 69 percent of those questioned think smoking should be allowed in private clubs, 79 percent say they are satisfied with current regulations restricting smoking in public places, and 69 percent think the decision about smoking in private clubs should be left to managers and owners.
“The people of Utah understand the rights of private business owners,” Bob Brown, president of the hospitality group, said in a news conference at the Capitol. “.It is clear that individual establishments should have the right to decide whether or not to allow smoking.”
The latest poll is one of several showing Utahns are opposed to more smoking restrictions, said attorney Phillip W. Dyer, who represents the hospitality group. This includes a poll by The Salt Lake Tribune, conducted in January, which found three out of five respondents were against making private clubs and bars smoke-free.
The hospitality poll, conducted Feb. 8-12, questioned 505 registered voters – 92 percent of whom identified themselves as nonsmokers or former smokers, Dyer said.
Rep. Curtis Oda, R-Clearfield, said some proponents of the bill are using straw-vote surveys that “are not scientific” to prove their point. Oda said he will oppose the bill when it comes before the House.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, said he has suspicions about polls conducted on behalf of organizations with specific agendas. He thinks the House is split on the issue, “but we’re working to get this over the top and into law.”
Waddoups said the measure addresses the health issue of secondhand smoke, and will protect waitresses, bartenders and musicians who must work in smoke-filled environments.
For its part, Brown said the hospitality group has collected 5,000 signature cards from bar and private club employees indicating they oppose a ban on smoking in their places of business.
Souzzann Zink, a smoking cessation specialist, said the most important reason to pass SB19 is to reduce medical care costs for everyone.
“Restrictions on smoking are proved to decrease the number of people who start smoking and to increase the number who quit,” she said. “Because 78 percent of Utahns who smoke want to quit, making it easier to start – in clubs and bars – means adding expensive smokers to our health-care costs, for life.”
By Amy Joi Bryson
Deseret Morning News
A Deseret Morning News/KSL-TV poll conducted by Dan Jones & Associates shows 57 percent of those surveyed feel the decision to allow smoking in bars or private clubs should rest there, as opposed to 40 percent who favor a statewide ban.
“I love this poll,” said Bob Brown, vice president of the Utah Hospitality Association, which represents close to 60 clubs and taverns.
“I think the majority of Utah just told us that individual choices and freedoms are most important. If people don’t want to deal with smoking, they have the choice to just not go in there. They are tired of Big Brother government telling them what to do.”
The results, however, don’t discourage Sen. Michael Waddoups, R-West Jordan, the lawmaker sponsoring amendments that would invoke the ban.
“It is just like every other issue. You have to get it out for public debate,” he said, adding he doesn’t believe there has been enough discussion to adequately inform residents of the health hazards.
In fact, Waddoups said the results are better than he had hoped for given there’s been so little discussion on the issue so far.
“Most people don’t go to clubs in this state, so they would say sure, let the clubs decide, not realizing it is a problem for people who have to work in this environment.”
Tom Guinney, a Salt Lake Valley Board of Health member who also is a partner in the Gastronomy chain, agrees.
“The surgeon general said in 1964 that smoking is not a good idea. The debate on that was over 20 years ago. Secondhand smoke kills over 200 people a year in the state of Utah and costs us $275 million. It is protection of customers and a workers’ rights issue.”
Gastronomy, in fact, is hosting a 2 p.m. Sunday press conference at the Oyster to make an announcement related to the smoking ban issue.
The statewide poll, conducted Jan. 3-6, tapped 623 households and included 430 respondents who said their religious preference was that of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which proscribes smoking tobacco. Of those 430, 338 described themselves as “very active,” 55 said they were “somewhat active” and 37 said they were not active. The poll surveyed 426 respondents who described their political ideology as very conservative or somewhat conservative.
Brown, who owns Cheers to You, said the results show that the notion of “freedom of choice” prevails among Utahns, despite their political or religious makeup.
“These places — only adults go in. We are all adults, so why can’t we make a decision for ourselves? I think Utah just said we are adults and let us make the decision.”
The proposed statewide ban on smoking in private clubs and taverns comes in the midst of a Salt Lake Valley Board of Health consideration to adopt regulations that would prohibit smoking in certain outdoor venues, such as Hogle Zoo, public playgrounds and baseball diamonds.
New York and California have statewide smoking bans that prohibit lighting up in bars and clubs, while Florida is smoke-free except in those bars that do not serve prepared food.
Across the country, states have adopted a variety of indoor smoking bans, and since 2003 the trend is catching on to impose more restrictions on smokers, including outdoor prohibitions.
Arizona voters may be asked next year in a ballot initiative to invoke a statewide ban prohibiting smoking in public places, and closer to home Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson wants to ban smoking at the Salt Lake City International Airport, where puffers use ventilated rooms.
Utah was the first state in the nation to go “smoke free” in 1995, when its indoor clean air act took effect.
It prohibits smoking in restaurants, stores, bowling alleys and businesses, but exempts private clubs, taverns, guest rooms at hotels and motels and fraternal and religious organizations.
As one fortunate enough to be able to ski yearly in the Salt Lake area, I oppose the campaign to outlaw smoking in the state’s bars and private clubs as well as the airport (“Rocky is targeting smoking at airport,” Jan. 6).
Bars and private clubs are not public places but private establishments. Adults, of their own free will, choose to either patronize or work in these venues or not. The owners or members pay the rent, salaries and taxes. In a free society, they should decide to forbid or allow what is a legal activity.
We must not allow petty tyrants to strip us of our personal liberties “for our own good” or in the guise of public health.
January 15, 2005
Read more:? 2005 Smoking Bill Snuffed Out For Good