If you really want to boil things down, and will pardon my brief, perhaps somewhat crude assertion, there are really only three things that most people crave that make the world go ’round – sex, money, and power. This time, it’s all about the money, and perhaps the power too. It’s a sad day for pipe and cigar smokers in the state of Maryland … or it will be on May 1st when the new law takes affect. In short, on May 1st, Maryland state residents will no longer be able to order their favorite pipe tobaccos from their favorite online retailers. They must buy from a licensed physical store, and be sure to pay the taxes, which, by the way are being proposed for a 500% increase [link to related article].
As we’ve been watching the TV in the last month or so, we have seen the uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Lebanon and Tunisia. I am starting to feel like I can relate well to the protesters, rebels, or whatever other label you want to give to the people that are upset enough to take it to the streets, and fight for change. Last month, we published some of the legislative happenings in Washington State: [The Second Battle in Seattle]. Up until now, Washington state residents were the only people being denied their personal freedom of choice on whom and how to purchase their preferred tobacco products.
Mail order has been around since the founding of the United States of America.
"The history of mail order and home shopping catalogues spans a number of centuries and criss crosses across continents. The very first mail order catalogue is believed to have been introduced by the great American founding father Benjamin Franklin. In 1774 he produced a catalogue selling scientific and academic books."1 "The roots of the Sears catalog are as old as the company. In 1888, Richard Sears first used a printed mailer to advertise watches and jewelry." 2
The obvious need for mail order, dating back to it’s roots, and still true to this day, is to make products available for purchase to people that live in places where they might not otherwise find those specific products they desire. Of course, in our modern times, the print medium of the mail order catalog is being transformed to the digital medium in the form of online retailers, like; 4noggins.com,Cup O’ Joes, PipesandCigars.com, and SmokingPipes.com. So, now how will they offer tobacco to their customers in Maryland? This new law takes business away from mail order / internet retailers, and it will not increase sales to the physical retail tobacconists in MD either. First of all, there aren’t many of them left. Secondly, they cannot afford to stock the wide selection of tobaccos as a mail order / internet retailer, and third, the consumers will not be able to afford what the retailers might stock as the taxes will be so high on them.
We refer to pipe smokers and tobacconists, as that is our audience here, but this law is for OTP, which stands for "Other Tobacco Products", which means all tobaccos except for cigarettes. Cigarettes have their own separate laws. So this affects not only pipe smokers, but also cigars, snuff, chew, and even roll-your-own cigarette tobacco.
This law denies MD consumers the freedom to purchase legal products, will hurt businesses both on the "brick & mortor – mom & pop" side of the business, plus online retailers as well, and will not bring in any increased tax revenue. For MD lawmakers, this is about money – they want to collect all the taxes they can on tobacco, and put up a facade of protecting the physical store operators so they don’t lose sales to internet retailers. However, as I said, they are hurting both types of retailers, and they will not receive any additional revenue. Stores in neighboring states may get some additional business though. This is also about power – the power to control individual personal lifestyle choices by eliminating tobacco, and denying people the right to make their own choices.
It’s time for us to take it to the streets just like the Middle-Easterners.
Update March 7, 2:15 P.M.
Here is another PDF that is more brief, (only 2 pages) and may be easier to understand.