SOURCE: Int'l Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers

May 09, 2008 16:18 ET

State Tobacconist Challenges Michigan House to Torch Senate's Smoking Ban Version

LANSING, MI--(Marketwire - May 9, 2008) - "No legislated smoking ban makes sense, but the draconian version surreptitiously passed yesterday by the Michigan Senate is a grievous affront to the personal rights and basic principles of all citizens," said Daniel Jenuwine, owner of The Cigar Factory Outlet in Troy, Michigan.

The bill now returns to the House for further consideration, compromise or forwarding to Gov. Jennifer Granholm for her signature as early as next week. Jenuwine hopes the House either buries the bill or reinstates the exemptions it originally considered.

"Obviously many of our Senators have fallen for the slanted so-called studies commissioned by the anti-smoking people that dubiously conclude that businesses aren't hurt by smoking bans. I'd like to invite all our legislators and the Governor to visit my store and the nearly 100 other cigar stores throughout the state of Michigan represented by the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association to see firsthand how the proposed smoking ban would negatively impact our businesses," said Jenuwine.

As an example, Jenuwine pointed out that over 200 cigar enthusiasts gathered at his store for a four-hour promotional event this week. The group spent over $8,000, generating over $2,500 in state tax revenues and among them were more than 25 customers who came from Windsor, Ontario to spend their Canadian dollars in Michigan.

"Given the current economic conditions here, I just don't understand why the Michigan legislature would want to drive another business to close its doors and lay off its employees," he said.

Jenuwine believes that many legislators and the general public have unwittingly been swayed by reams of disinformation regarding the effects of incidental second-hand smoke.

"If people would stop accepting unsubstantiated second-hand information about second-hand smoke and, instead, actually read the surgeon general's report, they would see that there is no conclusive evidence that says incidental second-hand smoke does all the things that the anti-smoking people say it does," he pointed out.

"And when legislators vote to ban cigar smoking in a cigar store, for example, they are saying they believe their adult constituents are too stupid and naïve to make their own choices. The fact is that patrons of these legitimate businesses choose to enjoy the legal products offered to them in such establishments just as employees of these businesses choose to work there. Where does the legislature get the right to take away our freedom of choice?" asked Jenuwine.

Jenuwine 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.

"Besides, there's a big difference between premium, hand-made cigars and cigarettes. Cigars are enjoyed just as champagne is. They are legal, adult, social and celebratory products of choice," he said.

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