June 2011

Comptroller Peter Franchot

Many of you (especially those of you in Maryland) probably remember the Maryland General Assembly banning the order of cigars online or by mail order last month. On the first of May, HB 88 went into effect after having been passed in both the Senate and the House. HB 88’s purpose was broad—it was intended to prohibit the buying and selling of OTP (“Other Tobacco Products”) either on the internet or through the mail … which ended up banning cigar smokers from doing the same.

The point of the law was to enable Maryland to collect the maximum sales tax on tobacco products by simply doing their best to outlaw consumers from buying them elsewhere. That means a heck of a lot of cigar connoisseurs have been inconvenienced. Not only did it mean legally purchasing cigars would involve traveling into town to visit a local retailer, but a lot of premium cigars aren’t even available to them except online.

Fortunately there has been a positive development recently; you can purchase all the cigars you want online in Maryland right now—at least for the time being.

Comptroller Peter Franchot stated in a letter to the General Assembly on June 13 that he would prefer not to enforce the ban while the legislature deliberates in the fall session about whether to repeal the ban.

On June 20, the Office of the Attorney General confirmed to Franchot in a letter that it is legal for him to do this. According to the letter, “The Comptroller is fully empowered with the discretion to enforce or decline to enforce the online sales ban against buyers of premium cigars.”

During this grace period, Maryland consumers will be entitled to purchase their cigars through whatever means they deem best. It may or may not be a temporary stay of execution. Everything will ultimately depend on the legislature’s actions this fall. If the law is upheld, the Comptroller will be forced to uphold it as well. That means if you’re in Maryland, right now is the time to place that premium cigar order online, as well as contact your state officials.

To read the letter from the Office of the Comptroller, visit the Baltimore Sun.

2 thoughts on “Maryland Online Cigar Sales Law Update

  1. J-R Cigars advises that the State of Maryland has advised them that they cannot ship to Maryland via UPS, or Fed Ex, and must use USPS, instead. Can this possibly be true? They will ship, but advise a 7-10 day delivery. I expect the cost is higher, as well. Anyone have an update on this?

  2. Can we say grey market? Maryland will be flooded with priority boxes filled with cigars. There attempts to snuff out premium cigar purchases is ridiculous. What are they going to do? Are they going to shut down cigar websites too within the state?

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