“In that regard, the notion of a group fighting for the interests of cigar enthusiasts across the nation is really one that is long overdue.”
That’s Cigar Rights of America executive director Glynn Loope, a veteran public advocate, explaining the creation and rapid expansion of the CRA, which has been an increasing important force in campaigns to protect the rights of cigar smokers all across the United States.
In a lengthy commentary for CigarCyclopedia.com, Loope explained that the massive, continuous attacks on tobacco over the past few years also create opportunities. “In the history of tobacco, there probably has never been few moments in time like that of 2007-2009. It will, indeed, mark a period when one industry was so singled out for political ridicule.
“But out of crisis, is born opportunity. It helped bring the industry together. It helped create coalitions among rival companies. It helped build new alliances among retailers, their suppliers, and a new era of consumer awareness about how government can intrude into one of life’s simple pleasures – enjoying an afternoon cigar.
“It’s a good thing, though, that politics is a process – and times do change. In the course of the governmental process, local, state and federal government actions often need correcting. Legislative bodies realize that they went too far. The economy changes. Relief from past measures is sought. New coalitions are built. Most importantly, though, elections come rather often.
“Cigar Rights of America is being built to engage in this process, to galvanize a new cadre of ‘cigar voters’ that want to tell a story to legislators at all levels – a story that says ‘back off.’ It’s amazing how politicians react when they realize new constituencies are watching their votes, monitoring legislation that impacts a part of their lives, and are willing to voice themselves – publicly.
“There have certainly been rays of hope in this arena. Statewide smoking ban proposals this year have died this year in Louisiana, Texas and Alabama. Cigar bar and lounge proposals have passed in Nebraska and the City of Long Beach, California. Major tax increase proposals that would have impacted cigars died in Florida, New Mexico, Montana, Utah, and Louisiana. CRA’s membership has written and called hundreds of local, state and federal politicians. It’s working.”
What is CRA doing? Loope highlights these efforts, among many:
CRA now has members in all 50 states and retail tobacconist members in 45. Best of all, membership is increasing dramatically, up 86% since the beginning of the year.
The Great American Cigar Shop program, which serves as a new political network for the professional tobacconist. It allows CRA to communicate with your local cigar shop, have them convey news to you on issues impacting cigars, while also serving as a new marketing tool for your local retailer. We’ve created a national map showing where ‘we are welcome’ in cigar shops across the country.
The Cigar Rights Government Action Center, on the CRA web site, where you will be able to find every piece of cigar legislation in the nation, from Washington D.C., to your state capitol along with links to every legislative office, and the past voting records of your representatives. You will have the phone numbers and email addresses of every member – everywhere – as we build a national political network of cigar voters.
Technical assistance on political strategies to address smoking bans and burdensome taxes, building grassroots organizations that can mobilize those that enjoy great cigars, and are tired of being the ‘easy target.’
Consistent communication to the membership on state and federal issues impacting the industry, from the manufacturer, to the locally owned cigar shop, to your ability to enjoy a cigar – sometimes on your own property.
Coalition building, by reaching out to those that support the cause of enjoying cigars. We have friends . . . some we didn’t even know about. Throughout the country (and depending upon the region and community) new coalitions are being built with the restaurant, tavern and bar, and gaming sectors. There are also opportunities with state and national anti-tax and burdensome government organizations such as Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform, and assorted pro-business and individual freedom national advocacy organizations.
You can join today for just $35 for a single year or $500 for a lifetime membership. There are plenty of tangible benefits in addition to fighting for your rights to smoke:
Loope notes, “All of this seeks to raise your interest, to let you know that this is a serious point in time for those of us that look to that cigar as more than just an object, but as a passion that allows us to ‘slow down life.’ A cigar is not a product – it’s a moment. It’s a time with friends. It’s something that shouldn’t be intruded upon or burdened with overzealous legislation and onerous taxation. We need you. We need each other.”
He’s right. Please consider joining CRA right now.