The Following op-ed was contributed by Joshua Habursky, Director of Federal Affairs, Premium Cigar Association and Glynn Loope, Executive Director, Cigar Rights of America
Every election matters. Every two and four years, we seem to hear that a lot. But this time, it’s really serious, especially if you enjoy, sell or make premium cigars. The premium cigar industry has come too far, made such progress, and has a feeling of momentum in the campaign against intrusive and economically threatening federal regulations. This election can maintain that progress, or bring it to a halt.
The premium cigar industry has an obligation in the coming months to be politically engaged during this election cycle. The industry trade groups, manufacturers, retailers and consumers must be active ambassadors showcasing the distinctiveness of premium cigars to elected officials at all levels of government. The viability and sustainability of the entire premium cigar supply chain is at stake. The same holds true with ballot measures, legislative seats and governor’s offices across the nation. To protect all that is special and unique in our passion for great cigars, the ballot box holds the key.
Premium cigars are not a Republican or Democrat issue, but an area where there are champions and opponents on both sides of the aisle. Engagement by premium cigar enthusiasts is critical. With more than three million cigar consumers spanning all 50 states, a powerful voting bloc exists that can tilt an election outcome. States such as Pennsylvania and Florida represent the economic axis of the premium cigar industry, and they are critical for the presidential electoral map.
“Cigar Voters” can swing these states, and many others. Community retail tobacconists can mobilize their patrons, manufactures have vast social media reach, consumer cigar clubs can voice their support or opposition to candidates, shops and consumers can host cigar town halls and carry-out email and calling campaigns to incumbent and candidate offices on our issues.