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Smoker's Rights

Get your laws off of my body and out of my house, car and business!  The laws being passed, against smoking, are unconstitional in my opinion!  It is also my opinion that efforts to raise taxes on cigarettes constitutes unfair taxation.  Does anyone remember the Boston Tea Party?  - Wilfred F. Marks  

Dear WILFRED,
 
Big Victory for Smokers in Oregon Highlights Tax Issues

Smokers "rang out" 2007 with a key victory against higher cigarette taxes which drew national media attention and even received praise from President Bush.  On November 6, 2007, voters in Oregon defeated by 60% to 40% a ballot proposal to impose a cigarette tax increase of 84.5 cents per pack.  What's so important about this victory is that non-smokers who wouldn't have paid the tax increase voted overwhelmingly against it.  This speaks volumes about the voters' opinions of big government and unfair taxation.

This victory, which was called a "big upset" in the media, comes at the end of a year-long fight in Oregon where smokers made thousands of phone calls, sent thousands of e-mails and wrote hundreds of letters to state legislators who placed the measure on the ballot instead of passing it in the regular legislative session. This fight lasted many months but smokers' hard work paid off.

Additional Highlights of Tax Issues

Illinois - In 2007, smokers in Illinois beat back attempts by legislators and the governor to impose a 98-cent-per-pack increase in cigarette taxes, which would effectively double the current rate.  Calls, e-mails and letters to legislators in Springfield helped to delay the budget process.  The governor and the legislative leadership remain at odds over a resolution.  In fact, Governor Rod Blagojevich has already reinvigorated his push for a new cigarette tax increase, this time at 90 cents per pack.  MySmokersRights members in Illinois are encouraged to visit the MySmokersRights.com Web site and e-mail your State House members in opposition to the proposed tax.  Your immediate participation could make the difference on this issue.

Michigan - A proposal by the governor toward the end of the legislative session to raise cigarette taxes by $5 per carton was set aside by legislative leaders in part because smokers like you e-mailed and called their legislators to say "enough is enough." 

In 2007, per-pack cigarette excise taxes were raised by state legislators in eight states:  New Hampshire (28 cents), Tennessee (42 cents), Indiana (44 cents), Connecticut (49 cents) and Delaware (60 cents).  Iowa, Wisconsin and Maryland raised cigarette taxes by $1 per pack.  In New Hampshire, Tennessee and Indiana, anti-smoker legislators initially proposed much higher taxes.  But when smokers made numerous calls, wrote e-mail and letters, the final tax rate was compromised in favor of consumers. In Indiana, for instance, smokers and retailers demonstrated at the state capitol against the cigarette tax.  Smokers in Wisconsin, Iowa and Maryland were equally committed and worked especially hard. But governors pushed particularly hard in those states, as well as in Tennessee and Indiana, to single out smokers to bear the burden of increasing state revenues.

The good news coming out of 2007 was that 42 state legislatures did not raise cigarette taxes and many did not even bother to hold a vote on new taxes because anti-smokers did not have support from members.  Legislators and their leaders avoided passing new taxes because they heard often over the past year from smokers who were tired of being constantly taxed . . . and taxed more.  During the 2007 legislative session, smokers in many states made phone calls and wrote e-mails and letters to legislators opposing proposed new taxes.  In Maine, a group of business owners and smokers held a rally at the state capitol to protest any further cigarette taxes -- and it worked.  In states with big populations like New York, Florida, Texas and Pennsylvania, as well as many others, cigarette tax proposals died in the earliest stages of the legislative process.  In South Carolina, legislators retained the lowest cigarette tax in the nation (7 cents per pack) because smokers and others opposed to higher taxes banded together to beat back a tax vote during the legislative session.

Smoking Restrictions Passed in 2007

In seven states, legislators passed new laws which prohibited public smoking, often targeting customers in bars, even though underage youth are not permitted in these locations.  In two cases, New Hampshire and Tennessee, smokers fought hard to have "private clubs" exempted from the overall workplace, restaurant and bar smoking bans which passed this year.  Smoking was totally banned in 2007 in restaurants and bars in Maryland, Minnesota, Illinois and Oregon -- though there is a cigar bar exemption in OregonIllinois' new law even bans smoking within 15 feet of all public buildings.  New Mexico's newly passed ban allows smoking by employees in workplaces where there are "one or two people working" -- businesses cannot be bars or restaurants. State licensed bingo parlors and gaming casinos are exempt in New Mexico.  In two states, exemptions were removed: Colorado banned smoking in casinos and Idaho in bowling alleys.  

Continue to Spread the Word about MySmokersRights

MySmokersRights promises to continue to keep you informed about issues affecting adult smokers.  If you have friends or family members concerned about smokers' rights, tell them about MySmokersRights.com, encourage them to visit the site and join our organization.  The more our membership grows, the better our chances of defeating unfair smoking bans and taxes across the nation.  So, please contact your adult friends and family who smoke, wherever they may be, and tell them about the successes of MySmokersRights.  Together we are making a difference.

As always, remember to use your personal Web page of legislators provided to you when you signed up with MySmokersRights to contact any and all of your legislators on any issue at any time.

Thank you for using MySmokersRights to protect the rights of adult smokers.

Don't want any more e-mails from us?  Remove me from the MySmokersRights mailing list.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

If you want to contact us, please call 1-800-743-6725. You can write us at: Consumer Relations, P.O. Box 2959, Winston-Salem, NC 27102-2959.

Click here to download the pdf file of Smokers Rights!

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