Smokeshop

SS August 2016

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46 SMOKESHOP August 2016 The continual changing of the rules and the unbridled enthusiasm of those who have made their anti-tobacco campaign a radical religion parallels other models. Like those who are religious zealots, they could not care less about the consequenc- es of their discriminatory actions and can justify even the most atrocious corrupted thinking. It is little wonder that the mom-and- pop retailer of tobacco is facing their col- lective Armageddon. Since 1978, I have been warning of the days coming and each time one of my warnings came to pass I was still dis- missed and ignored by those who think themselves smarter. Long ago, I made the suggestion that the cigar industry look into the fact that FDA regulations might be halted if the industry were to in- voke the protections that it had under the NAFTA agreements. I was assured that they could take care of themselves and they had even protective legislation un- derway in Congress. All these years later, I am left to doubt their assurances. Given that the industry has never really made a committed effort to help me to protect my business, the fact that the Gatlinbur- lier Tobacconist still exists after 38 years can be nothing more than a testament to "grit," the newly discovered characteris- tic that education professionals are now striving to teach our children. My commitment to the cause of fair- ness for smokers has included my run- ning for the Tennessee Senate so as to gain a larger voice in at least state law concerning the treatment of smokers. Be- fore that, I endured a 21-day solid food hunger strike—consuming only water and vitamins—in protest of the loss of the capacity to argue our side of the issues on television and radio. The personal costs I have endured in holding onto the "gather together and fight back" theory of self de- fense are too long and personal to go into, but because I was a proponent of self-pro- tection, I was removed from the National Board of Directors of the Retail Tobacco Dealers of America (RTDA) at the asso- ciation's final trade show and convention held in Houston, Texas in 2007 [before it rebranded itself as the International Pre- mium Cigar & Pipe Association]. Because of warnings about the threats to retailers, the other board members thought that my call to protect ourselves might upset our adversaries. Lord knows you don't want to make a crazed, dis- criminatory monster of a bully mad. Even though 18 percent of the public still uses tobacco products, we and our customers have not been able to coordinate the kind of defense our numbers should permit. Given that a mere .3 percent of the U.S. population designate themselves as trans- gender, it makes no sense and marvels the mind that so much power and attention is paid to such a small group. Given that the percentage of the American population that uses tobacco products is sixty times greater, it is incredible to me that we can not coalesce to be a great enough force to at least gain recognition for the kind of un- fair discrimination that we suffer. A May 26th email from the IPCPR asked the question, "Pipe Tobacco: Are You a Retailer or a Manufacturer?" Let me tell you that to the TTB, an arm of the Department of Home Land Security, you as a small mom-and-pop retailer of tobacco are manufacturers. According to the TTB you will need to get Manufac- turers Permits (a 467 day process) and report and pay every 15 days your own Federal Excise Taxes (FETs). You will need to make reports about how much tobacco you used each month. You will need to set up a separate place in your es- tablishments to be able to receive tobacco shipments "in bond" and hold tobacco separated from tobacco that has been "tax paid." You will need to account for every ounce of tobacco as it moves between the "un-tax paid" and the tax paid areas of your business on a daily basis. You will need to obtain a security bond to assure that your tax liabilities for your tobacco held in bond are covered. If need be, you will have to increase that bond within ten days of approaching your bonded limit or subject yourself to the loss of your manu- facturers status. The IPCPR email went on to say that, "In its comments to the FDA, IPCPR ar- gued for a "safe harbor" for retailers blending up to 5,000 pounds of pipe to- bacco per year and suggested how the FDA should define pipe tobacco." The email clearly states, "On both accounts, FDA declined to do so, hence any blend- ing of pipe tobacco would result in retail- ers needing to comply with the statutory and regulatory requirements which apply to tobacco product manufacturers." The requirements announced in the REGULATION VIEWPOINT > > Without the "In Bond" designation, retailers cannot repackage and sell bulk tobacco in smaller portions, even without blending, according to existing but under enforced TTB rules. > Even though 18 percent of the public still uses tobacco products, we and our customers have not been able to coordinate the kind of defense our numbers should permit.

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