Monday, July 23, 2007

Up In Smoke? part 2

I spent a couple of hours on the phone today talking to retailers, Tobacconists (both Certified & Not), and some high profile industry fellows. It was both enlightening and invigorating. This new federal tobacco tax ambush has rallied the industry in an unprecedented way. For the first time ever, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers can all get on one page. This is a fight for our survival and no one can disagree with that.

My hope is that professional Tobacconists will unite under the umbrella of our shared profession. While manufacturers and distributors must lead the fight against the draconian tax laws and repression, Tobacconists are the backbone and infantry of this business. Tobacconists are the public face of the luxury tobacco industry and we must be ready and willing to project our credibility. We are honorable professionals selling exquisite luxury products which enhance the value and quality of human life. We are honorable professionals selling exquisite luxury products which enhance the value and quality of human life. (Yes I wrote that twice.) Keep saying it and maybe it will start to sink in.

I think that this is just the beginning of the long road back to the America I love and cherish. You can only kick a puppy so many times before it fights back. Perhaps we have hit our breaking point.

Up In Smoke? part 1

Today was a strange Monday, to say the least. We made the front page of the world renowned Trenton Times, for all of the wrong reasons, as usual. Once again, A Little Taste of Cuba is the poster-child for beleaguered Tobacconists. Why can't someone do an article on Tobacconists for being world-class retailers or bastions of freedom in a shrinking landscape? Frankly, I am grateful that someone has taken notice that the newly proposed federal tobacco tax increase will do more damage than good. I hope this is just the beginning.
Some highlights in our manager's own words:
- "The tax can be so severe that it will backfire"
- 'It is unfair to tie the federal program to a particular group'
And one of our customers put it best:
- "I love the children", but "They can do that because there's not a lot of people who smoke cigars" - obviously he opposes...
And another retailer said:
- "It's a free country, why do they focus on just smokers?"

Sunday, July 22, 2007

More Cigar Taxes

There was a flurry of activity in the cigar industry this week with the announcement of a 20,000% tax hike which just passed the Senate Finance Committee. The President said he will veto this bill so we may survive in the short-term; but what happens next time they try?

I was amazed at how many cigar companies were mobilized and sent out emails. I have never seen such an impressive effort by so many producers and distributors in the industry. I certainly did not see it on the state level when taxes went to 48% in New Jersey, nor do I think any Tobacconist has ever seen our vendors react so proactively. It's a shame. If they had supported and defended retailers when our taxes went up, maybe our Congressman and Senators would know better than to continue to punish this great industry. Instead, our elected officials in Washington think it is reasonable to punish the cigar industry in the same way they do cigarettes.

Retail Tobacconists are the infantry of the luxury tobacco business and they must be supplied and reinforced. The only way to preserve the luxury tobacco industry is to support Retail Tobacconists. The only way to preserve the luxury tobacco industry is to support Retail Tobacconists. The only way to preserve the luxury tobacco industry is to support Retail Tobacconists. Yes, I actually wrote that 3 times; it is worth repeating.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Pills vs. Cigars

I just went by the shop in New Hope today and stepped into a whirlwind of cigar deliveries: Ashton, Fuente, Tatuaje, PG, and all that follows the mother-load of Padrons which arrived last week. I wonder if I am the only Tobacconist who gets a little giddy when great product arrives... It is rejuvenating for me, and it reminds me of exactly why I got into the business: of course a few, or 7, boxes found their way home with me.

So, I just got back into the office and I see an article on the internet which says:

Posted: 2007-07-10 14:16:02
WASHINGTON - A single pill appears to hold promise in curbing the urges to both smoke and drink, according to researchers trying to help people overcome addiction by targeting a pleasure center in the brain.The drug, called varenicline, already is sold to help smokers kick the habit. New but preliminary research suggests it could gain a second use in helping heavy drinkers quit, too.

I'm amazed at how many people are on anti-depressants, allergy medications, sleeping pills, and other pharmaceuticals. Our legal drug dealers are focusing on "targeting a pleasure center in the brain". Now, I have plenty of loved ones, friends, and acquaintances that have been, or are, on these commercially engineered drugs, but that does not stop me from having a disdain for those who push them and a society that somehow condones them while condemning Tobacconists. I wish these companies would stay the heck out of my brain's pleasure center. That is my exclusive domain, and I have an inalienable right to pursue my own happiness. I wonder what would happen to all of us pill poppers if we just sat back for an hour a day and enjoyed a great cigar or pipe. I think that would be the end of the pharmaceutical business ... so keep smoking.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Benjamin Franklin's 13 Virtues

1. TEMPERANCE - moderation in food and drink

2. SILENCE - mentioning only important matters

3. ORDER - proper organization of time and space

4. RESOLUTION - accomplishing one's responsibilities

5. FRUGALITY - purchasing only worthwhile items and wasting nothing

6. INDUSTRY - making the most of one's time and energy

7. SINCERITY - being honest and forthright

8. JUSTICE - practicing impartiality and refusing to wrong others

9. MODERATION - avoiding extremes

10. CLEANLINESS - using good hygiene under sanitary conditions

11. TRANQUILITY - remaining calm and composed despite life's obstacles

12. CHASTITY - refusing to allow sex to interfere with one's life

13. HUMILITY - avoiding excess pride and haughtiness