I ran across this press release today. A new organization has been formed to defend the rights of cigar smokers. I think it’s a great idea and some big industry names are behind this thing. I hope time proves that this organization can be effective. As is the norm when these types of organizations launch, the announcement is a bit preachy, but everything it says is legitimate. See the press release below…

Oh, and if anyone from the CRA happens to see this post… Lose the sultry, cigar smoking woman from your website banner. In my opinion it hurts the credibility of the organization. I know sex sells, but but I don’t think it fits or is appropriate in this context.

Press Release


Los Angeles, May 30, 2008


“Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”
“Land of the Free”
“No Taxation Without Representation”

These are the principles on which America was founded. Unfortunately for cigar enthusiasts, the age-old pleasure of enjoying a cigar is under attack. On a daily basis, your freedom to enjoy a cigar is being stripped away by an overzealous, anti-smoking movement. Their tactics are varied; be it through supporting onerous cigar taxes or lobbying government for restrictive smoking bans. The anti-smoking movement will stop at nothing short of the complete prohibition of tobacco.

The Constitution of the United States ensures that all men and women have the freedom and the right to the pursuit of happiness. Unfortunately, cigar enthusiasts have slowly allowed these rights to be removed. Over the past twenty years, the anti-tobacco movement has broadened their reach and scope and are moving towards abolishing ALL forms of tobacco including cigars. Until recently there has essentially been very little organized opposition to their actions. And why should there have been? Most of us assumed that their attention was directed towards cigarettes.

Unfortunately, we were wrong.

Forty-seven states in America have enacted cigar taxes. Some states have gone as far as taxing cigars at a rate of 75%. Currently, the entire cigar industry is threatened by the Federal Government’s State Children’s Health Insurance Plan (SCHIP) that threatens to increase the Federal cigar tax by as much as 6,000% (no this is not a typo). If it were not for President Bush ‘s veto of the bill proposed by the House and Senate last fall, cigar enthusiasts would currently be paying exorbitantly high prices for the cigars they enjoy so much and nearly every cigar shop in America would have been forced out of business. The proposed bill, which will tax cigars to fund SCHIP, is not dead yet. After the House and Senate reconvene in September, they will again attempt to increase the Federal tax on cigars to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Plan.

In addition to a tax increase on cigars, regularly introduced anti-smoking legislation has made it close to impossible for cigar enthusiasts to enjoy cigars. In many states, you are not allowed to enjoy a cigar at your local restaurant or bar. Cities around America are now proposing bans which will, if enacted, stop you from enjoying a cigar outside of public buildings. Who would have thought that the day would come when you cannot legally enjoy a cigar walking down the beach or sitting in your local park?

A number of manufacturers and retailers of the U.S. cigar industry have sponsored the formation of Cigar Rights of America (CRA). The founding sponsors of CRA are:

Arturo Fuente
Ashton Cigars
Camacho Cigars
Corona Cigar Company
Cusano Cigars
Drew Estate
General Cigar
God of Fire
J.C. Newman Cigar Co.
La Aurora
La Flor Dominicana
Oliva Cigar Co.
Padron Cigars
Rocky Patel
Thompson Cigar

The Retail Tobacconist Advisory Committee of CRA consists of:

Abe Dababneh
West Palm Beach, Florida

Albert Espinoza
Long Beach, California

Dan Kolod
Cleveland, Ohio

David Kitchen
New York City

Diana Silvius Gits
Chicago, Illinois

Jeff Borysiewicz
Orlando, Florida

Jeff Haugen and Joel Rogers
Maple Grove, Minnesota

Matt Lanford
Santa Barbara, California

Michael Herklot
New York City

Mike Khalil
Villar Park, Illinois

Paul Tucker
Louisville, Kentucky

Ron Melendi
New York City

Steve Willet
Boston, Massachusetts

The Soza Family
Fresno, California

In order to kick off the launching of Cigar Rights of America and raise the awareness encroachment of freedom and rights of cigar enthusiasts by an overzealous, anti-smoking movement, a number of cigar makers will tour several cities together for a week in August and attend the events organized by retail tobacconists. The tour will start with the event in New York City, which is tentatively scheduled for August 19th . Furthermore, the limited edition cigars will be released by the cigar manufacturers sponsoring CRA to commemorate the launching of Cigar Rights of America.

There is a war against cigar enthusiasts everywhere. To combat the very influential anti-smoking movement, we need your help NOW. Join CIGAR RIGHTS OF AMERICA (CRA) and join the fight to protect your rights. Cigar Rights of America has been formed to fight unjustified tax increases and halt smoking bans. For years, cigar enthusiasts have been trampled on by all levels of government. With increasing risk of further local, State and Federal government intervention, now is the time for the cigar community to UNITE and have a powerful voice to protect our rights.

The CRA membership information will be available in its web site,, which will be launched in the week of June 2, 2008.