Saturday, April 25, 2009

The United Pro Choice Smokers Rights Newsletter

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The United Pro Choice
Smokers Rights Newsletter

April 24, 2009 - Issue #523

"One of the most essential branches of English liberty is the
freedom of one's house. A man's house is his castle."
- James Otis, 1761
Smochiewochie: Defying the ban. Recently, a courageous supporter of freedom has been breaking the smoking ban. The reasons for this is that he wants to be fined and taken to court so that he can challenge the legality of the ban. As you can see, no fine was forthcoming, in fact it seems the whole is a joke; no doubt because the 'enforcers' are well aware there is no legality in the ban. Watch the videos.

Anti-Smoking Advocates Blast Senator Kirsten Gillibrand for Having Represented Tobacco Companies and Call Her A "Sellout" For Defending Them in Court. By Michael Siegel. These attacks frame the issue inappropriately in the public eye, and undermine the public's appreciation for an essential aspect of the very integrity of our justice system.
The Dangers of Using Cigarette Taxes to Fund Essential Government Programs: Financial Partnerships Lead to Big Tobacco Bailouts. Rethink dependence of tax increases.
From The Mailbag
CA: Parks and beaches SB 4 - A bad idea. By Robert Deitz, II.
CA: Smoking Everywhere at NAACP Image Awards Backstage Celebrity Experience. Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles.
CT: Casino smoking ban likely will burn up state revenue.
FL: IPCPR Expresses Concern For Tobacco Retailers.
IL: Residents: Help Stop a Tax Increase in Your State!
NC: A Spirited Debate on Smoking. By John Hood.
NV: Senate overwhelmingly approves reversing statewide smoking ban. The fact that Nevada's smoking ban has had a disastrous effect on their economy is no doubt the driving factor to re-instating freedom. And that lawmakers are now being educated about special interests who manufacture alternative nicotine products.
VT: IPCPR Urges Common Sense by Vermont Lawmakers.
WI: Please tell your state today to forego raising taxes.
USA: How the Tea Partiers can make Washington pay attention.
The Canadian Smokers Rights Newsletter, read all the news.
The Slippery Slope After Tobacco
Report: Fat people cause of global warming. “Moving about in a heavy body is like driving in a gas guzzler," said Dr. Phil Edwards of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. According to the report, scientists say overweight people means more food production -- a cause of CO2 gas emissions. It also says that means more people are likely to drive.
In Loving Memory Of Garnet Dawn
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Friday, April 24, 2009

Cig control CAN turn smokers into criminals

http://americandaily.com/index.php/article/1169

As the price of cigarettes rises—in the New York
City metropolitan area they cost nearly $10.00 per pack or about $100.00 for a carton of ten packs—and there are more and more government programs aimed at controlling sale and use, the US and state governments are creating a new and profitable organized crime enterprise
.

For example, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives New York office on Thursday, April 9, arrested two suspects who purchased untaxed cigarettes from undercover ATF agents while also selling the agents counterfeit New York State/City Tax Stamps.

Guang Ming Wang, age 58 and his son, Feishan Wang, age 30, both residents of Queens, NY, were arrested by ATF Agents without incident, meaning these were not criminals given to violence—at least not yet, according to a NYPD officer.

Guang Ming Wang arrived at a prearranged “meet” location with $312,000 in cash and over 200,000 counterfeit tax stamps. As the cash and stamps were exchanged for a shipment of 12,000 cigarettes, he was immediately taken into custody. Feishan Wang was arrested at the same time in Queens. Both Wang’s have been involved in this particular illicit operation since June 2008, which included 12 undercover deals involving the purchase of untaxed cigarettes and counterfeit tax stamps.

During the nine month investigation, Guang Ming Wang purchased a total of 31,980 cartons of untaxed cigarettes for $846,000 and also sold ATF 103,950 counterfeit NY State/City tax stamps for $4,000. After the undercover sales of cigarettes, both Wang’s were observed by agents unloading the contraband at two locations, 144-05 29th Road and 135-06 62nd Ave. in Queens. Federal search warrants were executed at both locations after the arrests.

The cartons sold to Wang contained a total of 319,800 individual cigarette packs, which at a price of $10 per pack had a retail street value of more than $3.1 million dollars in New York City. The counterfeit New York tax stamps are worth $4.25 each, bringing their street value to over $440,000. It is estimated that the defendants conspired to deprive New York State and City of at least $1.8 million dollars in tax revenue through their actions.

Ironically, while the ATF were arresting the Wangs, the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted in favor with a strong bipartisan majority for the second time since last July to pass the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (HR 1256). ( http://www.cboblog.cbo.gov/?p=215 )

Many lawmakers and groups have long been working together to urge the passage of this bill that would provide the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulatory control over tobacco products. ( http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/taxes/2009-03-31-cigarettetax_N.htm )

“So now we have two federal agencies involved in cigarette control. What’s next? SWAT teams tasked with going after ‘smuggled’ cartons of cigarettes? The criminal code being revised to include citizens who buy cheap cigarettes from pushers?“ quips a New York City detective.

“All we are doing is collecting more tax revenue and creating a new class of criminal activity,“ he added.

“What we are witnessing is a slippery slope. What’s next? Replicating [New York City’s] Mayor Bloomberg’s attack on trans-fats? Children denied cookies during cookie time in kindergarten? Slowly, the government is sticking their noses in citizens’ business, They’re trying to micro-manage our lives,“ notes Mike Baker, a conservative political strategist.

“The liberals love telling Americans they don’t want the government in their bedrooms, but apparently every other room in the house is up for grabs,“ Baker added.

Jim Kouri

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Blowing smoke editorial

On dat "Blowing smoke" editorial at:

http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090422/OPINION01/904220369&s=d&page=1,

dat article editor is actually right. The Black smokers community WOULD get hurt if the FDA wanted to ban menthol flavoring in tobacco products. BT would lose millions of customers within our community if brands like Newport, Kool, and Salem got banned.

As far as Black antismoking advocates claiming dat menthols in general can harm "our" community, dat's BS. I think a Black person has a betta chance of dying from unsafe sex instead of merely smoking mint-flava'd cigs. Sh!t, even guns and coke pose much more serious threats to a Black community than precious babies in a green cig pack called menthols.

Menthols are definitely part of a brotha/sista's identities as a smoker. Just like cigs in general being part of my own identity. If the FDA bans menthols, then dat's almost like banning a major part of a Black smoker's personality. You can't get rid of ANYONE'S identity.

So it's good more people are willing to accept menthol as a tobacco flava. They gotta accept menthols being around 4-eva, in the same sense "our" community will be around 4-eva across this nation as well, whetha hardcore racists like it or not.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Everyone pays for tobacco taxes

When a smoker has to sacrifice somethang in order to get cigs, antis will say "See? Dat proves that married couple is addicted to smoking if they gotta stop paying for DirecTV in order to pay for their cigs."

F-U antis is all I can say to dat. I can understand why a couple gotta sacrifice a TV service in order to buy their cigs. Dat IS betta than a couple deciding to steal their cigs instead. ("Dat" being getting rid of their DirecTV)

They can eitha get their smokes the good way by not paying for somethang else anymore. Or they can get their cigs the hood way and run the risk of going to jail for not stealing $$$ or jewels. But a legal product called cigs! It's a joke that stealing cigs is now the equivalent of someone robbing a bank or C-store of money! It will ALWAYS be a joke to me cause 20 years ago, people would be laughing like crazy if they heard of a man stealing 3 cartons from a gas station. Why would anyone steal cigs back then when they were a he!!uva lot more affordable?

Everyone has to pay for those stolen cigs too. Cause when robbers clean a warehouse out of $1 million worth of cigs (like the cig heist in CT), the stores and gas stations will still lose $$$ since they don't have any fresh cigs to sell.

How can places sell cigs period if the cartons are gonna keep getting stolen? I may be the only one who understands why more people are stealing cigs. But I DO know "Everyone pays tobacco taxes!" applies to these cig robberies I keep hearing about this month. Places that sell cigs are the ones who gotta pay the most due to those precious cartons getting stolen.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The United Pro Choice Smokers Rights Newsletter

The United Pro Choice
Smokers Rights Newsletter

April 17, 2009 - Issue #522

The Americans have had presidents, Johnny Cash, Bob Hope
and Stevie Wonder. We have Gordon Brown,
No Cash, No Hope, and No bleeding Wonder.
- Anonymous from the UK
Cigarette tax increased 62 cents. "I don't think they did very careful research," Kuneman said. Kuneman, unlike Wagar and Cooperstock, said there is insufficient evidence that tax hikes cause a decline in smoking. The support for health care programs, which he said were failing, should be spread to all taxpayers. "If the SCHIP program is a good program, everybody should be funding it," Kuneman said. "Everybody should be paying their fair share to pay it, not just smokers."

The total failure of smoking bans: By Michael J. McFadden. The problem they faced was that such a social engineering admission would have doomed the ban to failure - so they dressed it up as "protecting nonsmokers." A lie, just like all their other lies.

FACT CHECK: Do smokers cost society money? Yet nonsmokers cost society money, too — by living longer. It's an element of the debate over tobacco that some economists and officials find distasteful. "The natural train of logic that follows from that is that then anybody that's admitted around age 65 or older that's showing any signs of sickness should be denied treatment," Pechacek said. "That's the cheapest thing to do."
From The Mailbag
NV: Bill softening NV smoking ban passes Legislative committee.
PA: Players light up cigarette before game as tribute to Kalas.
TX: Alert: legislators are considering a statewide ban – again.
TX: Texas may raise legal smoking age from 18 to 19.
VT: IPCPR Stresses ‘Freedom, Unity’ for All Vermont Citizens.
USA: Where's the Fire? By Jacob Sullum. The rush to ban electronic cigarettes is hazardous to smokers' health.
USA: Martin D. Weiss. Please sign my Petition to Congress: "Thanks for Nothing, Washington - I'd Rather Bail Myself Out!"
The Canadian Smokers Rights Newsletter, read all the news.
Ireland: Martyrdom Update: Chris Carter - Smoking for Freedom.
Netherlands: Breda court says NO and overturns café smoking ban.
Scotland: Freedom To Choose Petition Gains International Support.
The smoking ban in England and Wales
is NOT legal. Part 1 and Part 2
The same exemption that exists for the
house of commons bar, applies to all
property in England and Wales.
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Cig sales down afta tax increase

http://www.csnews. com/csn/news/ article_display. jsp?vnu_content_ id=1003964156
CUMBERLAND, R.I. and TREASURE COAST, Fla. -- It's not a hard concept to grasp -- as taxes on cigarettes goes up, sales of cigarettes go down—but the latest tax increases on the products are once again hitting many local convenience stores hard, according to area news reports in The Valley Breeze and Hometown News.

Rhode Island's latest tax increase on nicotine places the nation's smallest state at the top of the tax heap—and the effect is hurting retailers including Steven Biron, who owns a Sunoco Gas station and Stop 'n Save Neighborhood Store in Burrillville, R.I. Biron told The Valley Breeze his weekly order was 25 cartons fewer than normal, following a slow weekend during which a pack of cigarettes hit a record price of $8.35, up from $6.50 in the state.

Ken Bousquet, co-owner of Consumers Propane and Gas Station in Woonsocket, R.I., said he would guess the station's convenience store has seen a 50-percent drop off in cigarette sales since a week ago. Tobacco products account for more than 50 percent of his overall sales.

"I don't know what's going to happen, where this is going to end," said Bousquet, who has two employees who quit smoking since the taxes went up. "I think [state leaders] have gone beyond what people are willing to pay, if you want to call it a breaking point."

Biron said it is too early for convenience store owners to know the true impact of a $1 increase in the state's excise tax—to $3.46 a pack—because many of those who vowed to quit smoking due to the price hike, may yet return to their old habits. Many customers also stocked up prior to the newly approved tax, which itself is subject to the state's 7 percent sales tax going into effect.

Biron, who serves on the New England Convenience Stores Legislative Committee, and is a town council member in North Smithfield, said the committee will wait until the end of May to do a survey of stores across the state, which will determine how much overall sales have been hurt by a general assembly-approved increase on cigarettes. That increase, he said, has
joined a higher gasoline tax as formidable obstacles for Ocean State convenience store owners to overcome.

The increase has pushed Rhode Island's cigarette tax to nearly $1 more than neighboring Massachusetts, and $1.50 more than Connecticut, creating huge competitive disadvantage, which Biron and others said could put them out of business.

When a customer buys a pack of cigarettes, said Biron and Bousquet, he or she most often also purchases coffee, soda, food and lottery tickets. The lottery is a huge source of revenue to the state, which could be hurt in the coming weeks as customers cross the border into neighboring states for gas and cigarette needs.

Judging by the answers given at Biron's store in a survey last week, many smokers were either quitting or planning to buy cigarettes elsewhere.

Biron said when a state like Rhode Island or Massachusetts makes a significant change to the way it taxes residents for goods, the impact is immediately felt in both the state where the change is made and in surrounding states.

In June 2008, when Massachusetts raised the excise tax, said Biron, he sold 560 extra packs of cigarettes the next month.

Biron and others have repeatedly told state legislators they need to help local business instead of hurting it through their actions—or inaction—on measures such as taxing items sold on the Internet.

Solving a problematic line item with a new tax can no longer be the way Rhode Island leaders do business, if they expect to stay in business, said Biron. "I'm fighting to keep my business right now. Sometimes I think I might as well turn my keys in to the state and give up."

Meanwhile, in Treasure Coast, Fla., some small c-store owners are seeing decreases in cigarettes sales ranging from 10 percent to 25 percent, following the new federal tax rate increase.

Mike DiTerlizzi, a former Martin County, Fla., commissioner who owns a gas station and convenience store in Palm City, told Hometown News he noticed a change in his customer's buying habits.

"Sales are going to decrease over the long run," said DiTerlizzi. "It's just one of those things you deal with in business, and you deal with it the best you can."

Lisa Malfregeot, manager of a Shell gas station and convenience store in Jensen Beach, Fla., told the newspaper her cigarette sales have seen a drop, but it's too early to project how bad the damage will be.

"It's across-the-board on cigarette tax, not just on Winston or Marlboro, and it's even worse because now Florida is looking to add another dollar on top of everything," she said.

In Tallahassee, lawmakers in the Senate are considering raising the state cigarette tax from 34 cents per pack to $1.34 per pack.

A Senate committee of three Republicans and two Democrats approved the tax increase, but no date has been set for a full Senate vote, reported Hometown News.

Loyal customers still patronize the Shell station for cigarettes, but their attitude is a little different, said Malfregeot. "You see a look of shock on people's faces when you tell them how much a pack of cigarettes cost."

Before the new tax, a pack cost around $3.50, but now, that same pack costs more than $4, and if the Florida tax is imposed, the price will jump to more than $5.

Because of the rising cost, customers have begun to make adjustments to their smoking habits, according to Malfregeot. "I'm seeing more people trying to quit as a result. More people are looking for bargains," she said.

Currently, Florida is ranked 46 out of all states in terms of cigarette taxes, according to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.