Cigar shops face ever increasing regulation and competition while Cigar websites continue to operate relatively regulation free. If you wonder what is coming down the pipe for Cigar shops here in the US look at what the government in Australia has just passed to take effect in December 2012.
New regulations on Cigar Shops abroad
Reports today detail how new regulations intended to hit Cigarettes are going to ensnare premium cigars also. The regulations call for all cigarettes to be packaged in solid green packages with graphic warning pictures and labels. Phillip Morris has challenged the new rules and argues this will commoditize their products and not allow them to differentiate brands.
Reports go on to say the premium cigar market in Australia is tiny compared to the cigarette market. Local cigar shops say they are spending the majority of their time worrying about how they will survive the new rules since currently they will also apply to premium cigars.
According to the regulations, the tins, tubes and wooden boxes would have to be covered in plain paper for premium cigars. The bands on individual cigars would have to be snipped off or concealed. “What it means is that customers who buy a selection wouldn’t know what they were smoking in a month’s time,” Battistella said. “We’re not going to know what’s what.” This would devastate local cigar shops in Australia because consumers would still be able to buy non regulated cigars over the internet.
History of regulations on Cigar Shops in Australia
Sid Astbury says, “Smoking has been under attack in Australia for nearly 100 years. High
taxes, advertising bans and restricted sales have reduced smoking rates to among the lowest in the world. The industry response to the new rules is being watched by governments in Europe, Canada and New Zealand, where similar legislation could be promulgated. Melbourne retailer Alexanders Cigar Merchants is trusting that the government will relent and exempt the high-end cigar market from proscriptions intended for cigarettes.”
The hope among Australian cigar shops is for an exemption on premium hand rolled cigars. No word yet on what the chances of the exemption happening. Govenments continue to regulate the local cigar shops out of business while ignoring internet cigar retailers shipping illegally and paying no local taxes. This makes no sense and must change or the local cigar shop will soon be extinct.