Maryland Bans Internet Sales of Pipe Tobacco and all OTP

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;,Cup O’ Joes,, and 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.

Here are links to the new law, and a FAQ about it.

Update March 7, 2:15 P.M.
Here is another PDF that is more brief, (only 2 pages) and may be easier to understand.

1. Catalogue Connections

2. History of the Sears Catalog

45 Responses

  • This is absolutely atrocious and although I have no residence in the US it bothers me deeply. I thought the US would do the anti-tobacco research and Europe would be first to implement showcase anti-tobacco legislation, but if the tyranny takes hold in the US I struly doubt whether we have a chance. I’m also not so sure whether Tobacco has the same necessary motivational effect for Prohibitionesque calamities. It would have been apparent if it had, I guess.

  • If online purchases are banned in Maryland, can one simply pick up the phone and place an order somewhere? Does the wording of the law specify “internet only”?

  • You should be allowed to do business with whoever you like as long as you aren’t partaking in illegal activities. This is all about taxing and money. It’s pathetic.

  • I would make the suggestion if feasible. Get a P.O. Box in a neighboring state. I also like the idea of marching on the capitals of every State. I think we as a Community of Pipe smokers get together and next IPSD light up our pipes on the stairs of our state capital and let our voices be heard.

  • @cortezattic
    The law is worded to include any method of ordering from anyone out of state, and specifically bans sales via telephone, mail order catalogs and internet.
    MAY NOT:

  • This is beyond disgusting to me as a consumer. I live about 45 miles from my nearest tobacconist. Therefore, I purchase online given the cost of gas prices. It works out the same for me. I am so very thankful now a job I applied to in Maryland didn’t come through. I’d hate to contribute to their wet nurse ideology. Banning interstate commerce for products didn’t work in the 18th century and won’t aide them now. Hope they choke on a double Mccheese and quickly.

  • This seems to be turning into Prohibition, but on the State not Federal level. Which will make it much more difficult to dismantle if most states jump on the bandwangon. As the article states, it is not going to increase tax receipts for Maryland on either side of the fence. It would make more sense to institute a tax on all internet sales that either is shipped from or to the state. That would generate much more revenue than the proposed 500% increase in taxation on the legal B&M purchases.

  • Wow.. makes one thing of the Boston tea party…. certainly although not the same thing.. had to do with tea and taxes…as well as Govt. strong handing the individual…
    Maybe a Maryland tobacco party is in order!

  • What a sad day for anyone and everyone who values their liberty and freedom. The nonsmoking citizenry will be weeping soon when this oppressive intrusion of government affects them…..and it will.

  • It looks like this crap was tacked on to a bill where criminals using guns while committing a crime could be held…blah…blah…blah…
    Further, it appears that the HB 88, including Chapter 388, sailed through the legislature utterly without opposition.
    Here is a summary bulletin from the Maryland comptroller’s office:
    (Md. legislature: Democrat Party – 98; Republican Party – 43, for what its worth.)
    This is the forward march of the “liberal progressive nanny state.” It will consume us all.

  • I am increasingly disgusted with the lengths the governments of the world are going to legislate our private lives.
    It’s only a matter of time before people get fed up and rise against such outrageous rape of freedom.
    What we smokers (and really all people) need is to start a movement to take back our rights.

  • So, what are you Maryland-ites going to do about it? It’s your state – do SOMETHING!
    Go to the legislature with letters, signs, picket outside of the legislature whilst smoking your pipes, etc. IF YOU DO NOTHING, everything (negative) will be forced on you. Less than 1% of the (state’s) population is dictating to 25+%. It is up to you (and all of us in each of our individual states) to change this. What will it take to get us up in arms?

  • Time for a centralized Pipesmagazine purchasing department. Until they ban smoking a pipe while reading a magazine we need to register tobacco vendors who will sell to our magazine. Then we place orders with our magazine and receive our “subscription”. Whaddaya say to that?

  • next time some one tells you that you have to register and vote to change things tell them balogna

  • It was in 1830 that P. Lorillard pioneered the first nationwide distribution of manufactured products by making US Postmasters the agents for Lorillard tobaccos. This led to direct mail order, years before Sears.
    Are we going to allow this current hysterical measure to negate the historical?

  • I’m still trying to figure out how this doesn’t violate the US constitution.
    I though the Commerce Clause specifically gave the Federal government the power to regulate interstate commerce.
    So how can a state ban specific articles of commerce?
    Be it tobacco products, alcohol, or other “adult” products?

  • OK – there ya go: Maryland-ites – bring suit in Federal court! Band together and get a good lawyer to argue: constitutional law (see prescedent above); Commerce dep’t charter; legal product arguments, etc. Ya gotta get them where they live – in the legislature. What are y’all doing – arguing it here is a waste of time – CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATIVE REPRESENTATIVE! WTF ARE YOU WAITING FOR, SOMEONE TO LIGHT YOUR PIPE? YOU HAVE TO LIGHT YOUR OWN PIPE!

  • I just updated with a new link to a 2 pg PDF that may be easier to comprehend. Look for the red Update note just above the footnotes at the end of the article.

  • Unfortunately, more states will probably follow Maryland.
    While a legal challenge is certainly possible, I wouldn’t bet on a favorable outcome.
    Yes, tobacco is a legal substance, but it’s illegal for minors.
    And tobacco-friendly court rulings are rare indeed. It’s politically and socially unpopular.
    It’s not like banning internet sales of jam or after-shave lotions.
    It would be difficult to make a case that the ban deprives Maryland consumers of their right to buy tobacco, because it does not.
    I wish I could be optimistic, but I’m afraid this one will stick and is likely to survive any court challenges.
    If I owned a B&B in Baltimore I’d have a website up by May 1 and offer a full aray of pipe tobacco and cigars.

  • You Americans are so gullible! We don’t have to invade you! We will destroy you from within without firing a shot! We will bury you by the billions! We spoon feed you socialism until your Communists and don’t even know it! We assist your elected leaders in giving you small doses of Socialism until you suddenly awake to find you have Communism. the day will come when your grandchildren will live under communism.–Nikita Kruschev to the USA at the UN Political Correctness Sumit .

  • It seems to me that this could be argued to be a violation of the U.S. Constitution; specifically, Article 1, Section 3, Clause 3; aka, the Commerce Clause, which states, “The Congress shall have Power To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes.” I realize that this, along with the “general welfare” clause is one of the most abused sections of the Constitution, used to justify nearly any law, but the real meaning of the word “regulate” (and specifically meant when the Constitution was written) means to keep regular. In other words, the federal and state governments shall make no law that impedes the regular flow of goods and services. Usually, though, this clause is used to justify laws which actually do hinder interstate commerce, completely contrary to its original meaning. My understanding is that this clause was inserted into the Constitution in order to keep the federal government and states from enacting laws that disrupt trade, such as interstate tariffs, etc. This law seems to be a blatant violation of that. However, it’s pretty clear that very few politicians actually care about constitutional violations.

  • Sorry Kevin but I don’t read it to mean an individual cannot purchase online or by phone. I would have to read the entire bill but it seems to me, judging by the following, the internet prohibition is directed at the brick and mortar license.
    B. Requirements.
    (1) The following applies to the OTP retailer license and tobacconist license:
    (h) The purchase and sale of OTP by mail or over the internet is prohibited.
    Am I not seeing something here?

  • @Bob Gilbert – These things can obviously be confusing, and many laws are left open to interpretation. I read it over at least three times and still wasn’t sure myself, to be honest with you. After consulting with others on it, although we agreed it was confusing, we also had more of a majority with the interpretation as we reported it here.
    I think that it might be possible for an online retailer (from out of state? … not sure) to pay for the license in MD, and then collect sales tax on orders from MD residents, pay that sales tax to the state, and then be in compliance with the law.
    I think that might work in theory, but in reality, I feel it to be highly unlikely to happen. In the end, MD just wants as much tax revenue as they can get. That’s what this comes down to, and the response from their citizens, and online retailers will be a virtual F-U, and the B&M’s that think this is good for them are dead wrong. Taking away freedom of choice and competition is not what built this country, but it is part of what is making it worse.

  • 12-104 is pretty harsh too.
    Don’t go to a military base and buy more the $50 of product (or more than 2 cartons, odd the value difference there given current cigarette prices)
    Don’t buy gifts there either, as the receiver of those are limited to $5 (or 2 packs)
    I’m not sure, as “for a nonresident consumer traveling through this State” is unclear, but I believe if I visit MD I cannot bring more than $25 worth from out of state. So, don’t bring a box of cigars with you then you visit MD. Cigarette smokers, don’t bring more than a carton on that business trip/vacation. (My father would take several cartons on vacations to higher cost areas)
    And I guess residents shouldn’t bring more that 2 packs back with them form trips.

  • Oops, wasn’t done…
    And I guess residents shouldn’t bring more than $5 (2 packs back) with them from trips.
    Forget grabbing a few cigars on the way back or even a tin of a new tobacco you like.

  • I am completely stunned not only about this tobacco law but about these absolute idiots in congress running our lives. For example Im a blue collar construction guy and basicly broke because the federal goverment took my tax money that was suppose to be used for certain things one of which was not to bail out a bunch of crook bankers, the feds and the bankers drove our economy into the poor house thus millions of people losing there jobs, houses etc which directly affected me because if poeple dont have money for remodeling and fixxing up their homes then I dont make money, I’m 7 days from losing my house that I build with my own two hands and not a huge house a 1600 sf house, my electricity is off and my water is off and I’ve eatin so much peanut butter that im going to turn into a peanut shortly its all I can afford basicly Ive also lost my van insurance and am getting fines everyday from MVA because the goverment caused the financial situation which caused my financial situation so they figure they’ll punish me for not being able to afford my insurance, really !!. What we indeed need to do is physicly drag the idiots that are not concerned with our well being out of office and well we can figure out what to do with the clowns later but what is it going to take to take our country back are we all a bunch of
    scared robots, passively sticking our heads in a hole, as soon as I come up with a few extra dollars I will be creating a web site were everybody that is interested can come to make your grievances be known and then once we have enough poeple then we can arrange a sit down a think tank session if you would, to come up with possible solutions, theres power in number poeple, everybody has a skill that can be offered or donated that may be helpful in organizing a professional group interested in obtaining a normal American life were everybody has there brother back so to speek. This is a must folks your kids and my kids dont have a prayer against this corrupt goverment and are basicly going to be drones controlled like puppets, I dont know about you but I want my kids to know what true freedom is before its lost forever, my email is if you would like to give input or just document your standing on this issue for future contact, and just for the record i’m obviously not a professional writer so please forgive the amature writing which brings me back to my point everybody has a skill and if there is a professional writer out there that would like to donate there time to the cause for content on the site as well as lawyers for site policy and so on please drop me a line, in the meantime lets all get angry about the goverment controlling our lives like we were little kids needing direction and do something this is my move to hopefully something bigger a bigger vioce that will be heard by the powers that be that were sick of the B.S, God Bless America and I dont care if that politicly correct they can kiss my bible carring flag waving ass!

  • @Kevin
    You don’t know if your own story is accurate? As a pipe/cigar smoking Marylander, I need to know if I should be putting extra money down on tobacco – or not? As a blogger, who linked to your story, do I need to start apologizing to my readers?

  • @Firecured
    I stand by my article , and I do not apologize to anyone and neither should you.
    I pay a lawyer at $450 an hour, and many times get an answer of “maybe”. There are many ambiguities in law. Sometimes things have to go to court and some laws are overturned.
    Sometimes laws are passed and then later a court decides these laws are illegal.
    We work very hard here at to be as professional as possible, and confirm facts, and research our material.
    We broke this news before anyone, and we strive to be the #1 source for accurate and correct information in the pipe and tobacco world. We are not perfect, but we try very hard.
    In matters of law, even the most knowledgeable sometimes just have to take their best shot.
    Again, I stand by my article, and I sincerely appreciate your assertiveness about commenting here. Thanks.

  • Oh, and as a MD cigar / pipe smoker, yeah, I would place the biggest order my credit card allows right now!

  • OMG this is crazy. Retailers are gonna have to get licensed? Mom and pop stores arent’t even gonna bother getting licensed. Outrageous! I live in Delaware, right next door to Maryland and we already can’t smoke inside anywhere commercially. Nor here in the Rehoboth Beach and Lewes, DE area just last week in local newspapers they’re making porposals to BAN smoking in state parks! So far they’re leaving to courtesy on most beaches and for the most part most folks don’t smoke on the beach. (I still think that stinks too) On hospital ground and some professional complexes grounds. Yeah there are security officers looking for puffs of smoke form cars.
    I’m gonna be spending on the luxury of hoarding as much as I can. Rehoboth Cigarette Outlet has ust started handling NICE tobaccos form MacBarens and Altadis maybe from the conversations I’ve had with the owner, Dave. I moved to the area about a year ago only to find this place really lacking in pipe tobaccos. Told Dave I reallylike the idea of going down the street and buying rather than having to order then, pay postqage on top of that. I’ve been making purchases every payday and as long as he has what I want, and so far he has has something I’m willing to buy even just becasue I’ve had conversation with him. And to my pleasure Tobaccos are disappearing from the shelves which means SOMEBODY”S buying besides me!!!! YES!! I will buy from him. Now,even more so!

  • I wonder how long before they ban the smoking of tobbaco pipes at home?
    Some companies threaten employees with termination if they smoke.
    I wonder if Ebay will put pipes on their list of banned items?
    This is a slippery slope.What’s next- will the government criminalize the possesion of tobbaco pipes?

  • I for one will be moving to Virginia. Since I work in DC it makes no difference whether I live in Maryland or Virginia.
    Free State my ass!!!

  • Combine this with MDs idiotic gun laws, giving ILLEGAL aliens the right to instate tuition, atrocious taxes and the moniker the “Socialist republic of MD” just really seems to fit!

  • I suspect this law, as it applies to Maryland consumers, is mythical. The supposed law has had no coverage in the Maryland news media or anywhere else, for that matter. On top of that, UPS just dropped a big box of tobacco at my door – this afternoon – in Maryland – no problem.
    BTW, I wrote the MD comptrollers office about this, weeks ago, and never got a reply; Maryland government workers may not be agents of the KGB, but they are, apparently, too haughty to talk to us commoners.

  • This law is very real. Cigars International would not process my order as they will not ship to Maryland because of this law. The customer rep did say they are trying to work things out with the state.

  • Same boat as Dave Johnson.
    Cigars International told me the same thing.
    I had not heard of this law until today.

  • I just heard about this stupid law today. I am a Maryland resident, and extremely p—ed off! I was on the phone with a Cigar retailer in PA, and they told me “oh I’m sorry we can’t ship to MD anymore!” I have 2 on-line orders pending, which I guess are about to be cancelled. So, I’m going to have to go to the store, and pay way too much so I can buy cigars. Add this to the stupid rule which says that you can’t ship wine to MD. I am angry, now is the time to do something!

  • I got around the law by having my cigars shipped to a VA address. If you have some friends or family in VA, take advantage of it.
    I’ve dealt with 2 different cigar suppliers in PA – one shipped no questions asked, the other put up a roadblock.

  • I also have orders at CI that can not be shipped.. Welcome to the “FREE STATE”

  • This is really unbelievable! It’s all about financial crooks on Wall Street who “broke” the system with their greed, and now we common folk have to bail them out with higher taxes and regulations on tobacco products! Why has no one gone to jail over the financial meltdown? Madness!