SOURCE: Int'l Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers

March 20, 2008 18:45 ET

Resurrected Bill to Ban Smoking in Kansas Set for Ways and Means Hearing on Monday

TOPEKA, KS--(Marketwire - March 20, 2008) - A bill to ban smoking in public places, similar to one that remains in the Judiciary Committee of the Kansas Senate, is being discussed the day after Easter in the Ways and Means Committee.

Among those expected to testify against SB660 at the hearing 10:30a.m. Monday morning are tobacconists Curt Diebel and Tom Jacob.

"The proposed statewide smoking ban is a divisive tool for discriminating against those who choose to smoke and it is an assault on the rights of all the citizens of Kansas, smokers and non-smokers alike," said Diebel, owner of Diebel's Sportsman Gallery in Parkland, Kansas.

"Smoking is a legal, adult activity that does not impinge on the welfare of others. If it did, government regulatory agencies like OSHA would step in, but they don't," Diebel said.

"Smoking in cigar stores, for example, is necessary for patrons to sample products and make informed purchase decisions. No non-smoker would accidentally wander into a cigar store. The same goes for a cigar bar," he said.

"This issue is all about freedom of choice and economics. The marketplace -- consumers and employees, smokers and non-smokers -- should be allowed to decide if they want to patronize or work for companies that allow or do not allow smoking on their premises," says Jacob, owner of the Cigar Chateau in Wichita, Kansas.

"If smoking is banned in or around government buildings, that's their business," Jacob says. "But private businesses should have the right to decide whether or not smoking would be allowed instead of having the government decide for them."

Jacob pointed out that cigar smoking is different from smoking cigarettes.

"Cigars are more a choice than a habit. The truth is, smoking a premium cigar is more like enjoying a glass of fine wine or champagne. It helps make ordinary moments special and special moments extraordinary," he said.

Diebel and Jacob are members of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association, an organization of professional tobacconists.

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