Wisconsin Gov Takes a Wrong Turn on Tobacco

By. J. Glynn Loope, Exec. Dir. | Cigar Rights of America

With the flurry of legislation revolving over two dozen state capitols, we often worry about the precedent being set in one state that could have an impact on another. There are progressive, pro-cigar legislative models that have been introduced this year, and some that are completely disastrous. Our concern remains that in politics, bad legislation and concepts have a way of spreading to other states.

That’s why we are especially concerned about Wisconsin. Republican Governor Scott Walker has proposed a $50 per month “fee” for state employees that smoke, as a surcharge on their health insurance. Also alarming, is that there are similar provisions in the new federal health care law that would allow insurance companies to charge smokers up to 50% more than non-smokers for their premiums. It is social engineering at its worst.

To demonstrate how bad ideas spread, nine other states have similar policies penalizing those that simply want to enjoy a cigar. Testing for nicotine in the same fashion as illegal narcotics is a practice we can not tolerate nor accept in this nation.

But we have to say, we’re not surprised about Wisconsin’s Governor, Scott Walker. In July 2010, Scott Walker, who was Milwaukee County Executive at the time, issued a release as he was in a heated contest for his party nomination, against the Wisconsin smoking ban.

Walker stated, “I don’t think the government should have been involved in a smoking ban in the first place, and as governor, I would sign a repeal of this law.” He was seeking to ‘out-conservative’ the conservative, as he was running against U.S. Representative Mark Neumann, who had already been on record as supporting a repeal of the state’s smoking ban, after it had only been law for four days.

Walker wins the nomination, and goes on to win the Governor’s Office. Flash forward to June 30, 2011. Governor Walker states regarding the Wisconsin state smoking ban, “It is obvious to me that it works. Therefore I will not support a repeal.” Flip-flop politics, once again.

In an open letter to Governor Walker, owner of Titletown Tobacco in Green Bay, Luke Russell, stated: “My colleagues and I have supported you in your election and recall election�We believed you supported businesses and defended individual rights. Therefore, it is with sorrow, frustration and confusion that I write this.” Mr. Russell continues, “�the issue at stake here is not smoking, it’s individual rights. The last time I checked, smoking is legal, which makes this proposal an affront to individual liberties�Governor Walker, Wisconsin is not a nanny state. Don’t make it one now. Light up a cigar, and relax.” Well said.

Cigars and protecting the ability to enjoy cigars is not a partisan issue. We have many friends on both sides of the aisle in Congress, and in your state capitol. Make your voice heard. Don’t let proposals like this from Governor Walker of Wisconsin creep into your state or local government.

Wisconsin CRA member Mike Cmeyla of Jackson, WI launched a great on-line petition regarding the Wisconsin smoking ban. CLICK HERE to sign the petition.

CRA is letting Governor Walker know of our opposition to his budget proposal.

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Gary Korb

Gary Korb

Executive Editor at cigaradvisor.com

Gary Korb has been writing and editing content for CigarAdvisor.com since its debut in 2008. An avid cigar smoker for over 30 years, during the past 12 years he has worked on the marketing side of the premium cigar business as a Sr. Copywriter, blogger, and cigar reviewer. A graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, prior to his career in the cigar business, Gary worked in the music and video industry as a marketer and a publicist.

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