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Senate Bill 3410 Presents a Rare Opportunity for Sensibility in New York

When it comes to the politics surrounding cigars and tobacco, I rarely have good news to post. Today, however, is a new day—according to a post by Cigar Aficionado, the New York Senate Investigations and Government Operations Committee just approved a bill, called Senate Bill 3410, that would cap New York’s cigar tax at $1 per stick or 75 percent of the wholesale price (whichever is lower). A similar bill was introduced earlier this year, but was shot down in April during the state budget.

Currently, the cigar tax in New York is 75 percent of the wholesale price. As you could well imagine, this makes it ludicrously difficult for New York tobacconists to stay afloat. Ron Melendi, president of the New York Tobacconists Association and general manager at Del a Concha, a cigar shop in New York City, elaborated last Thursday in a press release.

“I can sell a box of cigars for, say, $250 to my customer in New York, but he can go to Pennsylvania or the Internet and get that same box of cigars for $130-$150,” Melendi explained. “High state and federal tobacco taxes are to blame. These taxes aren’t making people quit smoking and they aren’t raising nearly as much tax revenue as the prohibitionists predicted; they just drive customers to other, cheaper sources,” he added. “That’s when everyone loses – tobacconists, consumers and the state, alike.”

At this point, you just might be thinking, “Wait a second—you’re an Internet retailer! You’re part of the problem!” I’d like to direct anybody who thinks this to one of our earlier posts, aptly entitled “B&M Cigar Retailers and Online Cigar Retailers are More Co-Dependent than You Might Think.”

Anyway, the bill is currently being reviewed by the Senate Finance Committee. The state legislature adjourns on June 20, but if it’s passed before then, it’ll be a hell of a lot easier to grab a fine stogie at your local B&M than it’s been for the last year or so. Cigar Rights of America, the New York Tobacconists Association, and the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association are all behind the bill, but they still need your help. To get involved, contact the Governor’s Office and your senators and representatives and tell them that they should get behind Senate Bill 3410!