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Midweek Roundup – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

It’s roundup time again, and as you can tell from the title, we’ve got some good, bad, and slightly ugly news from the cigar world.

In the interest of ending on a more positive note, I’ll start with the bad news. According to a press release from the International Premium Pipe and Cigar Retailers Association, legislators in Hawaii have proposed to raise the tax on cigars from 70 percent to $3.20 for each article other than a large cigar. Hawaii House Bill 273 proposes a minimum tax rate of $3.20 on each package of five cigars, adjusted accordingly for packages of more or less than five. Additionally, no cigar with a wholesale value of less than $1 would be sold in packages of fewer than five.

Aside from being incredibly convoluted and confusing, the bill directly attacks local businesses, not to mention smokers’ wallets. Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR, calls the bill “as confusing as the rationale behind it,” adding that in the past, “increased taxes…result in lower sales…and, consequently, lower tax revenues.” McCalla went on to explain, “When sales plummet, salespeople are let go and, eventually, businesses fail.” We couldn’t agree more.

Now for the good news—according to another IPCPR press release, the state of Illinois is considering loosening their statewide smoking ban to include an exemption for cigar bars and cigar shops. Illinois House Bill 1310 would give the state’s local liquor commissions the power to issue smoking licenses to qualifying businesses, as well as businesses with liquor licenses. “Now here’s a piece of tobacco-related legislation that is good for the state, good for business, and good for the economy, in general,” said Chris McCalla (man, that guy is everywhere, thankfully).

The IPCPR aren’t the only ones behind the bill—the bill is being sponsored by Representatives Anthony DeLuca and Randy Ramey, along with representatives Daniel Burke, Robert Rita, and Rita Mayfield. “It’s the smart thing to do,” McCalla said. “It’s good for business, good for jobs and good for the state.”

Finally, it’s time for the ugly—Universal Studios plans to release a 30th anniversary limited edition of the 1982 classic, Scarface, which will include a handmade humidor by Daniel Marshall that holds up to 100 cigars. Alright, the release itself isn’t ugly, but the price is—the set will sell for just under $1,000. Anyway, for Scarface fans who don’t feel like shelling out almost a grand for a movie and humidor combo, there will be a limited edition Blu-ray release as well, minus the humidor.

So there you have your good, bad, and ugly news, not in that order. Let’s hope that Illinois House Bill 1310 gets passed, and also that Hawaii House Bill 273 is shot down and perhaps used to light a cigar. In the meantime, I’ll be drooling over that Scarface humidor.