Categorized | National News

Sin tax threatens a local industry

The Bahamas Premium Cigar Association says  the government should embrace rather than stifle significant economic opportunity.

In a statement released yesterday  BPCA President Michael Maragh said it came to their attention that the government is considering the imposition of both a sin tax and a new tobacco control bill. 

The BPCA President said  while they fully support all efforts to raise awareness of and protect the public from the dangers associated with  inexpensive, mass-produced and widely available tobacco products, they must strongly oppose any attempt to include high-end, premium cigars in the same category.

Study after study has shown these products to have nowhere near the same level of risk in terms of either health concerns or addiction.

In, addition, with a prohibitive starting price of $10-$15 per cigar, there is no conceivable chance of widespread consumption.

Yet hundreds of Bahamians generate income from the sale of premium cigars to visitors, as these luxury items remain key to the mystique of the region as a destination.

He requested that the government exempt premium, high-end cigars from any sin tax to be imposed on other tobacco products and reduce the current 220 per cent  tax on premium cigars.

In addition, he said  the industry  should be exempted from the more onerous provisions of the proposed tobacco control bill, including  prohibitions which would effectively end cigar smoking on golf courses, in luxury airport lounges and on casino floors.

He complained about  restrictions on advertising,  meaning that local luxury cigar producers would no longer be able to promote their products, even on their own social media pages, advise the public about rolling events, or demonstrate this skill at cultural festivals and other events. 

There are prohibitions against purchasing and selling cigar branded lighters, cigar ashtrays, cutters, cases, or humidors.

They also request that at least two members of the tobacco industry be named to the tobacco control board which is contemplated in the bill.

The BPCA encourages The Bahamas government  to embrace this huge economic opportunity for Bahamians and allow it to flourish to the benefit of local employers, workers, the tourism industry and the country’s economy generally.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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