Opposition to Manufacture and Sale of ‘American Blend’ Cigarettes

RALEIGH, N.C., - North Carolina State Representatives Jerry Dockham and David Lewis, along with State Senator David Rouzer are expressing their concerns that the passage of Bill C-32 by the Canadian Parliament could impose irreversible damage upon the North Carolina agriculture industry by banning the manufacture and sale of American blend cigarettes in Canada.

The bill aims to address concerns regarding candy-flavored tobacco products that target minors, however, it imposes an overly-broad ban on all cigarettes manufactured with flavor additives, thus including “American blend” cigarettes that do not target minors and are not “fruity” or “candy” flavored.

The three legislators call on North Carolina’s Congressional delegation to defend the jobs of many hard-working American tobacco farmers and manufacturers by encouraging the Canadian Parliament to consider the very negative effects of Bill C-32 and oppose it as currently written with such a broad and arbitrary ban. Additionally they are urging the state’s federal lawmakers to weigh in with the appropriate U.S. trade officials.

Recently, U.S. Rep. Howard Coble of the North Carolina’s sixth Congressional district wrote to U.S. Trade Representative Mark Kirk on the issue, which Dockham said “shows that the Congressman is willing to stand up for our state’s economy and for the many hard working people employed in our agricultural industry.” Coble’s letter, dated September 4th, 2009, cited concerns that the Canadian bill could “create repercussions for burley tobacco farmers”, and that it would “negatively affect the tobacco manufacturing industry, as American blend cigarettes are often comprised of flue cured, oriental, and burley tobacco.”

With the Canadian Parliament set for a September 30th hearing on C-32, Dockham said that “needlessly removing legitimate tobacco products that do not target youths would put many jobs at risk for American tobacco industry workers. I feel very strongly that C-32 would cause more problems than it solves, with the American tobacco industry receiving a blow from which it may be hard to recover.”

While Lewis indicated his support for Canada’s effort to curb youth tobacco use, he said he does not feel that placing a sweeping ban on all flavorings, such as those produced with American burley tobacco, is the answer. “I ask Canadian lawmakers to re-examine their objectives before placing trust in an across-the-board ban, and I encourage our two U.S. Senators and the rest of our Congressional delegation to ask the same of their Canadian colleagues,” said Lewis.

Rouzer echoed the concerns of his two legislative colleagues. “Our tobacco farmers are once again under assault, this time by the Canadian government. If Canada is really serious about youth smoking, I’ve got a solution for them, and that’s to get focused on tobacco contraband and enact stronger penalties for violators,” said Rouzer. “That is where the real problem lies, and they know this. What they are really up to is a back door ban of tobacco products that include American tobacco, and North Carolina’s Congressional delegation should stand up and call their hand on it.”

SOURCE: Sept. 24 2009 The Office of North Carolina State Representative Jerry Dockham

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