Key Hawaii Lawmaker Steps Up to Support Traditional Cigars 

Dear Hawaii Cigar Association Members,

I have great news to report. On Friday, June 29th, Hawaii Senator, Joshua Green, MD who serves as the Senate Health Chair, agreed to add a 50 cent tax cap on premium large cigars when his committee introduces tobacco tax legislation this coming session. He has also promised to send the Hawaii Cigar Association a copy of the bill in mid November to review prior to formal submission.

While Senator Green has been an ardent opponent of everything tobacco, he should be applauded for his bold, fair, and reasonable approach to capping the tax on premium cigars.

As I made the rounds at the Capitol the resounding theme was that the Hawaii Cigar Association, and traditional cigars are not the target of tobacco legislation in Hawaii.

What is being targeted are the roll your own tobacco businesses that are openly circumventing the cigarette tax, and those candy, and fruit flavored tobacco products that target our youth.

Make no mistake that the goal of legislators is to crush all products aimed at children in Hawaii, and to level the playing field for all those responsible for paying tobacco taxes. I pledged again that the Hawaii Cigar Association will not oppose such legislation, and that our membership will support all efforts that bring fairness to the tobacco tax laws.

Senator Rosalyn H. Baker who is Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection, and also an ardent opponent of tobacco, also acknowledges that the Hawaii Cigar Association is not part of the tobacco industry in question, and that the HCA will have an active roll in the upcoming session, and legislative process.

We should all be proud that we have come together as one voice under the Hawaii Cigar Association, and because of this, we are being heard, and have gained valuable allies with our lawmakers.

I will say again, that from the Halls of Washington, DC to the halls of our State Capitol, I have yet to meet one legislator that is against the rights of traditional premium cigars. And, not only have these lawmakers been open to discussing the issues of premium cigar protection, but they have literally cast their support by writing legislation, and co-sponsoring cigar rights bills!

Rest assured that things are getting better for us, and the process of government is working. Please continue the petition drive, and reach out with a mahalo to your legislators as we start preparations to support the successful passage of this 50 cent tax cap this coming winter. This will be a monumental achievement, as never before has a grass roots organization come together in Hawaii to support our right, and freedom to enjoy a cigar.

Enjoy your summer, and prepare to back this legislative bill in the coming session.

Warm Regards,

Les Drent
President, Hawaii Cigar Association

Les Drent, president of the Hawaii Cigar Association with Hawaii Senator Josh Green, MD, Chair of the Senate Committee on Health