To the People

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Now, If Only These Kids Could Live Past Their 20th Birthday We Might Have an Anti-Smoking Strategy On Our Hands

Saying she wants to put cigars out of the reach of young adults, Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon announced a new city rule that inexpensive cigars must be sold in packets of five or more.

"Single cheap cigars are becoming quite popular," Dixon said at a City Hall news conference. "These products are addictive and deadly."

Single cigars often cost as little as 50 cents at city corner stores, and people often empty them and refill them with marijuana. The new regulation, which will go effect Oct. 1, includes cigars that cost $2.50 each or less. Violators could receive a warning and then a fine of up to $1,000.
If you put the question to these "young adults" -- name me the 5 most deadly things in Baltimore -- I would be confident that Swisher Sweets would not be present. Bullets, yes. Knives, yes. Easily available cigars, not so much. More:
Young adults in the city are "sensitive to price," Dixon said, and requiring the cigars be sold in packets would drive up the consumer cost of the product, putting it beyond their means.

Bruce C. Bereano, a lobbyist for the Maryland Association of Tobacco and Candy Manufacturers, questioned the mayor's motives, saying he believes she is really trying to ban all smoking in the city. He said that only the General Assembly, which has twice failed to pass bans on selling individual cigars, has the authority to make such rules.
"Sensitive to price" is code for poor. So much like all tobacco and alcohol taxes what we end up doing is punishing the poor disproportionally more than any other socio-economic class, and making it harder for them to enjoy one of the few pleasures in an otherwise dreary life. Have you ever tried to live in Baltimore without smoking? It's miserable.

Btw, a helpful tip to the fellows over at the Maryland Association of Tobacco and Candy Manufacturers...It might be time to separate the Tobacco guys from the Candy guys. It might have made sense way-back-when to combine lobbying forces, but I would hope that you could see how in our present climate the Maryland Association of Tobacco and Candy Manufacturers could pose some logistical problems for both the candy interests and the tobacco interests. Just a thought.

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