SOURCE: Int'l Premium Cigar & Pipe Relations Assoc.

September 08, 2008 18:09 ET

Michigan Tobacconists Say Where There's Smoke There's Legislation

LANSING, MI--(Marketwire - September 8, 2008) - According to Chris McCalla, legislative director of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association, his organization has learned that the Michigan state legislature will likely reopen debate on a proposed statewide smoking ban based on allegedly erroneous information provided by well-funded anti-smoking forces.

Michigan's State Representatives and Senators have been deadlocked on a proposal for several months with each preferring their own version of such a ban. McCalla believes the two chambers are working to approve a statewide smoking ban by the end of this current session.

"IPCPR members are owners and employees of neighborhood smoke shops across Michigan, throughout the United States and the world where premium, handmade cigars are sold to adult consumers," said McCalla. "Their customers are friends and neighbors who enjoy the pleasures of a good cigar... and they are voters," he added.

McCalla noted that most cigar stores are family-owned small businesses led by mom-and-pop operators who are pillars of the communities they serve, providing thousands of jobs and paying millions of dollars annually in payroll, sales and excise taxes.

According to McCalla, Michigan legislators and the general public are being deceived by the well-funded anti-smoking organizations into believing what they hear about second-hand smoke.

"They need to read the 2006 Surgeon General's Report which clearly concludes that second-hand smoke should not be considered a legitimate health or environmental hazard. Biased media reports, slanted statements by anti-tobacco groups and even deliberately erroneous press releases from the Surgeon General's office contradict the actual findings of the Report," he said.

McCalla referred to a report written by Dr. Jerome Arnett, Jr., a pulmonologist who lives in Helvetia, West Virginia.

"The abuse of scientific integrity and the generation of faulty outcomes have led to deception of the American public on a grand scale, draconian government over-regulation and the squandering of public monies while personal choice and freedom have been denied to millions of smokers," Arnett wrote.

A recent study published by an environmental chemistry professor supports McCalla's and Arnett's position.

Barry Dellinger is a professor of environmental chemistry at Louisiana State University. His research on the environmental effects of combustion was presented last month at the 236th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia. Dellinger found that nonsmokers are impacted primarily by elements in the air formed during the combustion process of things like coal in power plants and burning trees, not tobacco. "Wood smoke is the worst," Dellinger is quoted as having said, discussing heart and lung health risks.

McCalla challenged the Michigan legislature to demand clarification and validation for health claims made by the anti-smoking organizations in support of any statewide smoking ban.

"Information promoting legislation of this magnitude, with its widespread social and economic impact as well as its deprivation of constitutional rights of business owners and consumers alike, needs to be documented for public review and shared in an understandable format," he said.

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