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S.C. Premium Cigar Dealers Cross Primrose Paths of Politicians

ROCK HILL, SC, Sep 11, 2008 (MARKET WIRE via COMTEX) -- "Well-funded anti-smoking forces are leading York County politicians down the primrose path," says Chris McCalla, legislative director for the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

"Just as they have done in 10 other counties throughout South Carolina and elsewhere, these groups are spewing misinformation with hopes that it will lead to the continued spread of unconstitutional and unnecessary smoking bans in public places," he said.

York County legislators are expected to consider formal proposals in October regarding a possible countywide ban on smoking in public places.

According to McCalla, nearly 30 IPCPR members are owners of neighborhood smoke shops across South Carolina with some 2,000 more throughout the United States and the world. They are mostly small businesses, family-owned cigar shops and pillars of the communities they serve. They provide thousands of jobs and pay millions of dollars annually in payroll, sales and excise taxes. They sell premium, handmade cigars to adult consumers, their friends and neighbors, who enjoy the celebrated pleasures of a good cigar.

A survey of IPCPR-member stores in South Carolina where smoking bans are in effect show sales down by up to 20% over the previous year. Over time, this could lead to lower tax revenues, layoffs and even closed businesses, he explained.

McCalla challenged erroneous information provided by anti-smoking groups.

"People should stop blaming second-hand smoke from premium cigars and other tobacco products for every ailment under the sun," McCalla said. "The 2006 Surgeon General's Report clearly concluded that second-hand smoke should not be considered a legitimate health or environmental hazard. Anti-tobacco groups contradict the actual findings of the Report which stress the insufficient evidence to support such claims," said McCalla.

"If the Surgeon General's report actually said second-hand smoke is environmentally unsafe, don't you think the Occupational Safety and Health Administration would be all over it? Instead, OSHA isn't anywhere near citing second-hand smoke as problematic in the workplace or elsewhere," McCalla pointed out.

"If owners of businesses or buildings want to ban smoking from their premises, that's their constitutional right. It's also their employees and customers right to stay or go somewhere else. But it's wrong for legislators to take away our constitutional rights, especially when such actions are based on misleading and invalid health claims," McCalla said.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Source: MarketWatch

S.C. Premium Cigar Dealers Cross Primrose Paths of Politicians