Saturday, January 23, 2010

The other shoe

Anyone paying attention to recent tobacco tax decisions knew this day was coming. Roll-your-own tobacco companies avoided last year's taxes by relabeling their product as pipe tobacco. I laughed when I noticed pipe tobacco popping up that was flavored with "mint," which I, when I was a cigarette smoker, called menthol. I'm not laughing anymore.

The bill in question is House Resolution 4439, which was presented Jan. 13. I'm seeing some support for the bill and a lack of opposition. Instead of redefining what constitutes RYO tobacco, the proposed bill would extend the tax to pipe tobacco. The new tax on pipe tobacco would be about 10 times the current rate, equal to the rate for RYO.
The goal of the house, as far as I can tell, is to close the loophole that allowed RYO tobacco to skirt the new tax, justified or not. They're not trying to target pipe smokers, but we constitute such a small percentage of the population that they're not worried if they upset us. That is, of course, conjecture on my part, but I think the evidence backs it up.
The bill, in its entirety, can be read here. It's a short bill and leaves no question to the impact. I encourage everyone to take a look.
One thing to notice, it does not appear to include a floor tax for retailers, so existing stock would apparently be sold at the current rates. It doesn't mean stocking up would be unjustified.
But while you're stocking up, I encourage you to contact your local federal delegates. You can look up your elected Representatives here. If you are a patron of Romeo's Downtown Pipe and Tobacco Co. or a member of The Ozark Pipe Smokers, your congressman is Rep. John Boozman, and I've listed his office contacts below. Please do not let this bill pass unchallenged. The pipe smokers of America, as few as we are, still need to speak out.

Washington, DC Office: 
1519 Longworth House Office Building 
Washington, DC 20515 
Phone: (202) 225-4301 
Fax: (202) 225-5713 

Lowell Office: 
213 W. Monroe, Suite K 
Lowell, AR  72745 
Phone: (479) 725-0400 
Fax: (479) 725-0408 

Fort Smith Office: 
4943 Old Greenwood Road 
Suite 1 
Fort Smith, AR 72903 
Phone: (479) 782-7787 
Fax: (479) 783-7662 

Harrison Office: 
North Arkansas College 
303 North Main Street 
Suite 102 
Harrison, Arkansas 72601 
Phone: (870) 741-6900 
Fax: (870) 741-7741 


  1. Tom, I forwarded to Frank a note I received with ready-written letters to Congressmen and Senators...I will forward it to you as well, perhaps you could post the link on here.


  2. I'll gladly post it here. You'll have to copy and paste it into your browser.

    And while there is nothing wrong with the national effort, we may also be looking at a more local effort.

  3. I think we should invite Boozman to our next pipe club meeting, if anybody knows how or has connections to get it on his schedule so he could meet & talk with his pipe smoking constituents. I realize talking to actual people about laws that affect them might be a novel concept. If our regular meeting time won't work for him we could call a special meeting.

  4. I invited Boozman and/or any of his staffers to Saturday's meeting. He is in Washington this weekend, and his staff is unwilling to commit because of the storm. We will try again in the future and possibly schedule another special meeting around the Congressman's schedule.