Hawaii Cigar Association Election 2012 Newsletter

Aloha members of the Hawaii Cigar Association!


  • Key State and Federal Legislators from Hawaii Step up to Support the Traditional Premium Cigar Industry
  • Endless Summer Cigar Festival 

Key State and Federal Legislators from Hawaii Step up to Support the Traditional Premium Cigar Industry

J. Glynn Loope, Exectutive Director of Cigar Rights of America, and Les Drent, President of the Hawaii Cigar Association enjoy a cigar outside of the White House to celebrate the 50,000th cigar rights petition submitted to President Obama last April.It’s been a remarkable year for cigars. We have a lot to be thankful for as many people in our industry sacrificed time and money to protect the rights of those who love cigars. All across the United States, retailers, manufacturers, consumers, farmers and small businesses sent a clear message to the Food and Drug Administration: that premium cigars should be treated differently than other tobacco products under the Tobacco Control Act. The Cigar Rights of America and International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers have led a monumental legislative effort. With the support of members and allied groups such as the Hawaii Cigar Association, we made great strides toward defining fine cigars and distinguishing them from inferior tobacco products. While there is still much to be done in the Senate, HR1639 has achieved a majority of bipartisan co-sponsorship of 221 members in the House of Representatives.

To be fairer to growers, manufacturers, sellers and buyers of premium cigars, states with high tobacco taxes—Connecticut, Michigan, Oregon, Washington, Iowa, Rhode Island and Wisconsin—have set cigar tax caps. Legislators in these states recognize that, because of their artisanship and higher production costs, premium cigars  should not be taxed at the same rate as other tobacco products. Two years ago New Hampshire enacted a legal definition for premium cigars, one that effectively distinguishes premium cigars from other products:
“Premium cigars” means cigars which are made entirely by hand of all natural tobacco leaf, hand constructed and hand wrapped, contains no filter, wholesaling for $2 or more, and weighing more than 6 pounds per 1000 cigars.

No cigar tax is levied on tobacco products fulfilling these criteria, and as a result of this definition New Hampshire has been empowered to focus on and combat cheaper, mass-produced cigar-like products that in some cases target children. We applaud this effort by legislators, and those in the local cigar industry.

left: Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, right: Congresswoman Colleen HanabusaHere in Hawai‘i our outreach efforts are beginning to pay off. Both Hawai‘i Congresswomen, Colleen Hanabusa and Mazie Hirono, took a bold step by supporting our cause in Washington. In turn the Hawaii Cigar Association has published our own concerns regarding the candy- and fruit-flavored, machine-made cigar-like products that target children. Everyone who represents premium cigars in our state association recognizes the danger of children being exposed to these products. Too many children in our nation do not have strong guidance from their parents or communities; they are at risk of falling prey to these products. Yet while government can play a useful role in both protecting kids as well as premium cigars, it’s a politically fraught issue for legislators who vote for a cigar tax cap. The vast majority, if not all of the legislators have no quarrel with traditional premium cigars, but they are understandably wary of supporting anything tobacco-related because of potential backlash in an election. Case in point: Last April a cigar-loving senator bought two of our Kaua‘i cigars in the Hart Building in Washington, DC, but then said he would not cosponsor S1461 because his challenger threatened to use it to portray him as a tobacco-sympathizer.

The legislators who do support our cause understand that they are working to protect both children and a legitimate tobacco product that does not pose any great risk to them. Nevertheless, these legislators are still taking a political risk on our behalf, and they need our support. The Hawaii Cigar Association supports candidate Mazie Hirono in her bid for election to the United States Senate, and Congresswoman Hanabusa's bid for reelection to the House of Representatives.   Both legislators have demonstrated time and again the true meaning of non-partisan, reasonable decision-making. The Hawaii Cigar Association also seconds Mazie’s statement of support for HR1639 and continues to work within the cigar rights movement for the common good.

Dear Friend,

Thank you for contacting me in support of H.R. 1639, the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act. I appreciate hearing your views on this issue, and I am a cosponsor of the bill.
Small businesses are the backbone of Hawai‘i’s economy. According to the US Small Business Administration (SBA), small businesses account for 97 percent of all the employers in Hawai‘i, who in turn provide jobs for over 56 percent of Hawai‘i’s private-sector workforce. Throughout my career in public service I have worked to support policies that allow Hawai‘i’s entrepreneurs to develop their ideas, innovate and grow our state’s economy. 

Cosponsoring H.R. 1639 is the result of hearing from constituents, listening to their concerns and seeing whether there are some common-sense things we can do to help. A Hawai‘i-based cigar company, the Kaua‘i Cigar Company, also made a convincing case as to why this bill is important to their business, which in turn helps boost Hawai‘i’s economy and attract other businesses to diversify Hawai‘i’s agricultural production.
The issue is that some cigarette companies are using a loophole to call their products “cigars” and avoid regulations. 

As an original cosponsor of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009, I don't want to see cigarette companies marketing to children.  

What today’s bipartisan bill does is make some common-sense clarifications to define expensive “traditional large and premium cigars” which are too costly for children and are targeted at a high-end adult market. This definition helps distinguish luxury cigars from mass-produced and cheap flavored cigarettes, “little cigars,” and “cigarillos” which are attractive to children. The FDA should move forward with regulating those cheaper products to keep them out of our kids’ hands.

Luxury cigars are a small and distinct part of the cigar industry, much like brewers of craft beers. This bill helps make sure that small businesses, like the Kaua‘i Cigar Company, are able to continue operating as they are currently.

H.R. 1639 has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, of which I am not a member. Please be assured that I will continue working to see this measure advanced during the 112th Congress.
Again, thank you for contacting me. If you would like to stay in touch with me on this or other issues of importance to you, please visit my website at http://hirono.house.gov and sign up to receive my regular e-mail updates. Please do not hesitate to contact me again in the future if I may be of assistance to you in any way.


Mazie K. Hirono
Member of Congress

Senator Josh Green M.D.At the state level, the Hawaii Cigar Association continues its honest and open approach to finding support for a tax cap on large cigars. Senator Josh Green chairs the Committee on Health and aggressively fights any tobacco product that targets children. Yet he supports our tax cap effort and recognizes that premium cigars, and a Kaua‘i farm that grows its own tobacco for cigars, should not be unfairly penalized by a percentage tax on a product that already has exorbitant production costs. We are confident that dialog and collaboration like this will lead to fair solutions when the tax cap is added to a Hawai‘i bill this fall.


Endless Summer Cigar Festival

Join us for Hawai‘i‘s first ever Endless Summer Cigar Festival. On February 8-10, 2013, some of the top names in the world of cigar manufacturing will be visiting the Islands to help us celebrate the history and tradition of premium cigars in the Aloha State.

Since the early 1800s tobacco farming has had roots in Hawai‘i, and for the first time in nearly two hundred years we will pay tribute to Hawai‘i’s past, present and future cigar industry. On display at the event, and from the archives at Bishop Museum, Kaua‘i Museum, and the Kona Historical Society will be photographs and written excerpts from Hawai‘i’s tobacco and cigar history. 

While we take a trip back in time to explore our rich history, guests will enjoy live Hawaiian entertainment, dinner, spirits, and some of the finest cigars known to man.  Special guests include Jose Pepin Garcia, his wife Maria, his son Jaime Garcia and his wife Dianelis Bermudez, and daughter Janny Garcia, along with the owners of Ashton Cigar Robert Levin and his wife Suzanne, as well as Pete Johnson, owner of Tatuaje cigars, and Rocky Patel of Rocky Patel Premium Cigars. This special night will be filled with renown cigar brands like Ashton, My Father, Island Prince, Tatuaje, Partagas, Hawaiian Vintage, La Duena, La Aroma De Cuba, Makaleha, CAO, Macanudo, San Cristobal, Don Pepin, Rocky Patel, and many others.  
Retailers like Tobaccos of Hawaii, R. Field Wine, Shiroma’s Fine Wine, Fujioka’s and other fine merchants from around the State will also be on hand to exhibit the multitude of premium cigar brands sold in Hawaii. Torcedors from the Kauai Cigar Company will be on hand making their limited edition Made In Hawaii, Grown in Hawaii cigars throughout the night, and local spirit companies will be pairing drinks and smokes.  A plentitude of rare cigar treasures will also be sold in a silent auction and benefit those in the military who have been injured defending our Nation.

Presented by the Hawaii Cigar Association, and hosted by the Royal Hawaiian Hotel this night of fun, will be shared by kama‘aina, malihini and visitors from afar.

Come join us for this spectacular event.  Ticket Price:  $125  full, $110 companion, $110 military only, 1-800-750-5662, (808) 822-4495 or visit hawaiicigarassociation.org/festival2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013,  5pm-9pm, Dinner:  6:30pm
Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Waikiki Beach
Join us for an evening of fine cigars, dinner, and live entertainment
click here for tickets

For information on air transportation, rental car, and hotel accommodations please call us.