Jailed for smoking? That’s freedom.

Ok. I realize the Himalayans seem far away, but this is a good example of how things can quickly become absurd.  Democracy? Not so much…

From The Syndney Morning Herald

Bhutan jails more smokers amid criticism

Bhutan’s opposition leader has condemned the country’s anti-smoking law, the strictest in the world, as “utter madness” after another three people were sent to prison for possessing cigarettes.

The remote Himalayan country banned the sale of tobacco in 2005 and tightened up its law again last year to combat smuggling, requiring consumers to provide valid customs receipts for any cigarettes or chewing products.

Tshering Tobgay, writing on his blog in a posting dated May 26, said a local court in the Paro district had sentenced another three men to three years in jail after they were stopped at an airport with undeclared cigarettes.

“Their crime: they were caught smuggling ten packets of cigarettes,” wrote the opposition leader in the national parliament. “I called the Tobacco Control Act draconian. It?s much worse. It?s utter madness.”

He added that “countless others — I’ve lost count really — are in detention or undergoing trial in various parts of the country.”

In March, a monk became the first person jailed under the anti-smoking law after a court handed him a three-year prison sentence for smuggling tobacco worth $2.50.

Sonam Tshering was jailed for bringing in 48 packets of chewing tobacco worth 120 Bhutanese ngultrums from India without declaring them to customs.

Bhutanese smokers are restricted to 200 cigarettes or 150 grams of other tobacco products a month, which can be legally imported with tariffs of 100 percent from India or 200 percent from elsewhere.

Bhutan, famed for its invention of Gross National Happiness to measure progress and its citizens’ well-being, is one of the most remote and reclusive places on Earth, sandwiched between India and China.

It held its first democratic elections in 2008 and the Tobacco Control Act has sparked rare public dissent, including a Facebook group where mostly young people have vented their frustration at the law.

© 2011 AFP

End of an Era…sad

Per Action Center News 5/27/2011

Last cigar factory shuttered in Red Lion, Pa.

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FRIDAY, 27 MAY 2011 09:09
J.C. Winter & Co. of Red Lion, Pa., also manufactured chewing tobacco. This metal thermometer advertises the company’s Happy Jim brand. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Morphy Auctions.J.C. Winter & Co. of Red Lion, Pa., also manufactured chewing tobacco. This metal thermometer advertises the company’s Happy Jim brand. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers Archive and Morphy Auctions.

RED LION, Pa. (AP) – Joe Jacobs, now 63, can remember the smell of tobacco curing as he drove into Red Lion as a teen.The town’s cigar factories employed most of its people, and they sold more than 10 percent of the cigars manufactured in the United States, according to local historian Shirley Keeports.

She said most current Red Lion residents can still say they know someone who once worked in a Red Lion cigar factory.

But unless they know Jacobs or his receptionist, they don’t know anyone who presently works in one.

Van Slyke & Horton Inc. was the last remaining factory from the industry that built the town – and it closed production about six weeks ago, said Jacobs, who manages the place.

He and his secretary are all that remain. After an auction of most of the manufacturer’s possessions, they’ll be gone, too.

“It certainly is the end of an era,” said Jacobs, whose father, Clark Jacobs, owns the factory. “There were a lot of people who lived a very good life because of it. The industry was responsible for Red Lion being such a flourishing community at that time, and there was a time when most men had a cigar in their mouth. We just always thought people would smoke.”

He said Van Slyke & Horton, 49 S. Pine St. in Red Lion, was also the last operational cigar factory in York County.

The Van Slyke building began manufacturing cigars in 1910 under then-owner J.C. Winters, Jacobs said.

It had about 60 employees in the height of cigar popularity and was producing millions of cigars per year.

Things had been “rolling downhill” for cigar manufacturers for decades, but the passage of a new tobacco tax a few years ago and the economic recession “pushed us over the cliff,” Jacobs said.

The factory made nearly a million cigars last year, selling them to locations all over the world. Workers would condition the loose tobacco and feed it into 20 machines that rolled cigars, and then they’d pack and ship them. But orders slowed and the handful of remaining employees were let go around two months ago, Jacobs said.

The machines were sold to an operation in Nicaragua and, on Thursday morning an auction was conducted to disperse decades worth of equipment and memorabilia, Jacobs said.

Items sold included labels and bands, antique hand-rolling items such as cutting boards and knives, cigar molds and 250-capacity trunks in which cigars were packed, he said.

The building is not for sale, and Jacobs said he’s not sure what will come of it.

The cigar industry was so strong in Red Lion by the 1920s that the town was the richest place, per-capita, in the nation, said Keeports, who directs the Red Lion Historical Society’s museum.

“I don’t think there were many households that didn’t do some kind of cigar manufacturing,” she said. “You could start stripping tobacco in your own home, and you were called a stripper. Most of the women were strippers, stripping the stem from the leaf.”

The town’s opera house and theater were built on cigar profits. So were the lives of the townspeople.

Workers wrote songs and poems about the factories, and they treasured their jobs enough to fight for them. In 1934, cigar workers afraid of losing work to machines went on strike. State police were called to control rioters. Women lay down in front of delivery trucks. One Red Lion man was blinded by tear gas, and, according to Keeports, had to make brooms for the rest of his life.

Keeports said she’s “greatly upset” by the last factory’s closure. She planned to attend the auction and use Historical Society funds to buy and preserve as much of the memorabilia as possible.

Things might be tight, she said, because she recently “spent a lot” at the closing of Loyer’s Pharmacy, another of the town’s institutions.

“It’s our history,” she said. “I don’t like to see these things leave the town.”


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We need your help! (and it’s easy)

Yet another threat to our freedom of choice.  Even if California is not “your state”, remember…when a constricting law is passed in one state, it will eventually spread to others.  Prohibition is like a virus!  Below is taken straight from the CRA website.  Please take a moment to click on the link and sign the petition.  It literally takes seconds.  Every signature makes a difference!



CRA Petition – California (Statewide)

Total Signatures: 950
PetitionID: California001

California State Senator and Assembly Member Propose Act of Tobacco Prohibition for The Golden State.

In the form of one of the worst pieces of legislation of its kind currently pending in the nation, California State Senator Mark DeSaulniers, D-Walnut Creek, and Assembly Member and Chairman of the Majority Caucus, Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, have just introduced a sweeping piece of tobacco prohibitionist legislation that seeks to close every existing exemption to enjoying perfectly legal tobacco products in the State of California.

As Senator DeSaulniers takes the lead in introducing Senate Bill 575 it is imperative that every passionate cigar enthusiast and retail tobacconist engage themselves in this legislative battle.

Senate Bill 575 would ban smoking in all retail tobacco businesses, private clubs, hotel lobbies, bars, taverns, banquet rooms, warehouse facilities, and employee break rooms.

And we don’t have former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to protect us now with the power of the veto pen.

Senate Bill 575 is currently awaiting committee assignment by the Senate Committee on Rules. Upon assignment, CRA will let you know which committee will be hearing the bill.

Make no mistake, this is a very real threat to your passion for fine cigars. It not only affects the entire state of California, but sets a horrid precedent for the entire nation.

Senate Bill 575 threatens your freedom to enjoy a cigar at your local retail tobacconist and is a direct threatto the livelihood of professional tobacconists across California — and could spread across the entire nation.

It is time to draw a line in the sand on this type of legislation, and with California being a benchmark state for such legislation, this prohibitionist style of law making needs a direct and passionate response from all in Cigar Nation.


Click here for link to sign


CRA Action Alert


ACTION NEEDED – House Bill 211 Proposed To Further Restrict Smoking in Florida

PetitionID: Florida001

Statewide Authority Over Smoking Bans Should Be Preserved
Help Defeat House Bill 211 in Florida

A piece of legislation that sets a dangerous precedent has been introduced in the Florida legislature. House Bill 211 would limit the state “preemption clause” to indoor smoking bans, only.

In other words, the rapid growth of outdoor smoking bans would be allowed to proliferate throughout the State of Florida, by empowering local governments to pass such limits on the enjoyment of cigars, outdoors. Yes, it could lead to having a debate with every local government in Florida regarding smoking on patios of bars, restaurants, cigar shops, much less all “public property.”

Freshman House member Kathleen C. Passidomo, R-Naples, has introduced this legislation. She said she did so at the request of Naples, Florida Mayor Bill Barnett.

It’s time to send both of them a message. Tell Representative Passidomo and Mayor Barnett that liberty should be preserved in the State of Florida; That public property (beaches, golf courses and parks) belong to everyone, and that Florida doesn’t need any more Nanny State legislation.


1. Notify your member of the Florida legislature. Tell them to say NO to HB 211.

– Locate your House Representative
– Locate your Senator

2. Sign the CRA Petition.

– Click Here to Sign the Petition


Support Your Local Florida Great American Cigar Shops™

CRA Needs Your Help!
In order to be successful in our fight to enjoy cigars without the threat of smoking bans and high taxation, CRA needs your help. Please consider partnering with CRA through two important methods:

There is strength in numbers! The more members CRA has, the greater voice we have at all levels of legislature. Please help CRA by asking your fellow cigar enthusiasts to join CRA today! Membership starts as low as $35/year.

Our fight around the country is very expensive. We would like to ask all CRA members and cigar enthusiasts to consider making a donation to CRA in any amount you choose.

click here for quick link to membership