March 06, 2008 13:01 ET

Tax, Then Ban Makes No Sense Says Wisconsin Tobacconist

MILWAUKEE, WI--(Marketwire - March 6, 2008) - Jack Cummens of Jack's Tobacco & MCS in Brookfield didn't like it when the state increased taxes from 25 percent to 50 percent on the wholesale prices of his premium cigars but he appreciated the 50-cent tax cap placed on each 'stick.'

"Now they're talking about banning those same premium cigars from being smoked in public places like cigar stores, taverns, bowling alleys, private clubs and elsewhere. That just doesn't make sense," says Cummens who also heads C-SAW, the Cigar Store Alliance of Wisconsin, and is a member of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

Cummens says that what is at stake are the civil rights of all Wisconsin citizens as well as tourists and others who visit or do business here.

"It's all about choice and economics. We must all join together -- smokers and non-smokers -- to stop the state from regulating legal activities over the rights of business owners and employers. Employers and owners of businesses like bars, restaurants and cigar stores should continue to have the right to choose whether or not their places of business would permit smoking. By the same token, employees and consumers should also continue to have the right to choose whether to patronize or work in such places," says Cummens.

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

Cummens points out that premium cigars are a choice not a habit.

"They help make ordinary occasions special and special occasions extraordinary. Besides, smoking in cigar stores is necessary for patrons to sample products and make informed purchase decisions," he maintains.

"Cigar stores are destinations for smokers -- especially those who enjoy premium cigars," adds Cummens. "There's no chance that a non-smoker would accidentally walk into one."

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