March 2010

Utah's oldest smoke shop closes due to tax

Increasing from 35 to 86 %, Utah’s cigar tax is becoming the highest in the United States. Existing cigar shops have to come up with considerable investments to cover the tax on their existing inventory – and some of them can’t afford it. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Jeanie’s Smoke Shop, the oldest cigar shop in Salt Lake City, will not be able to stay in business.

Owner Gary Klc says he will have to close the business in June — just before a new tobacco tax takes effect July 1. That’s the date by which Klc must come up with $125,000 to cover the higher tax on his existing inventory. Klc says it’s too big an investment for products that will be taxed at some of the highest rates in the nation.

“When I think of my customers and suppliers, I feel like I’m losing my best friends. It’s like I’m going to a funeral,” said Klc, 50. “It’s been a hard decision. I grew up in this store so I get pretty emotional.”

Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, who fought for years to raise Utah’s tobacco tax, said he understood that distributors would have to pay the bill, not retailers. But Charlie Roberts, Utah Tax Commission spokesman, said retailers indeed must pay the higher tax and yes, it will come due when the law takes effect this summer.

“If that’s the way it is, then so be it,” Christensen said. “I’m sorry for some of the businessmen the law will impact, but they’re selling a deadly product.”

I received an e-mail from John a few days ago regarding this; if you want to help Gary reduce his inventory you can give him a call at (801) 322-2817.

18 thoughts on “Utah’s oldest smoke shop will close due to tax

  1. I live in Salt Lake City and I’ve been many times to Jeanie’s. The cigar selection is great and the staff always friendly and knowledgeable. I’m appalled by this new Utah law. Utah went with higher taxes rather than a smoking ban (the state is running a deficit) and I hear people around here all up in arms about how the health care reform is restricting their liberties and how unacceptable that is. I feel for Gary and will miss Jeanie’s.

  2. Terrible. Awful. And to think that we gave 750 billion to people that mucked up the economy and small, hard working family businesses are forced to close. Not right.

  3. Just remember this, and spread the word in October and November. If you vote for an incumbent, you are voting to help this occur again and again. It’s up to YOU to take action.

  4. This is just ridiculously crazy! Beer and alcohol is and can be just as bad. Sure one can make the argument about second-hand smoke, but what about DUI deaths?

  5. change you can believe in

  6. This devastating turn of events for my BOTL and his livelihood deeply saddens me.

  7. All this policy does is shut down local businesses. It will have ZERO effect on cigar smokers getting their cigars via other channels, so it can only be seen as political grandstanding — hence the “deadly product” comment. Utah is a beautiful state, by the way. Zion National Park is great place to enjoy a cigar.

  8. This is total bull, and yes it’s not a liberal or republican thing…it’s a corrupt and misguided politician thing.

    Utah is among the worst, remember the age to buy tobacco there is 19, and the dominant religion of the state is obviously involved in this as well (Sen. Christensen is a member of said religion)

    Another reason to fight for the separation of church and state…

  9. When I lived in Toronto, Ont. (Canada) 20 or so years ago, they tried to raise taxes on smokes by about the same rate, like 400%. This opened up a gateway and a huge market for smuggled and illegally sold smokes from other parts of the country and the world. I wonder how long it will be in Ut. before someone clues in on this great business opportunity. After all, limitless amount of cigars of all kinds are sold in Mexico, I think about 10 hr drive…
    Me personally, I travel enough to buy my own smokes in duty free stores in Varadero or wherever and have enough friends to bring me smokes from Cuba, because the prices in Canada are already stupid.
    If there is a will, there is a way. People will always smoke, drink, do drugs and fight wars. I don’t see how any of this will ever stop.

  10. I don’t get it. Fat bastards can still eat at McDonalds in public without restrictions. Our young men and women can die in war..but smoking…no way…and show that ID…you’re old enough to die…not old enough to drink a lousy f***in beer! We are heading in the wrong direction.

  11. tobacmon
    hey not trying to start a fight here at all. granted tobacco tax IS generally a liberal stunt (I agree with you this tax is insane), but keep in mind that Sen. Allen Christensen is a republican so this bull is coming from both parties…

  12. Using higher taxes to close a store and put people out of work will surely help the country to recover from the economy downturn. People are just going to move to online retailers. If the shop is forced to close down, why doesn’t he pack up and move to a different state and open an online business while keeping the existing customers???

  13. Soon long term busines owners will have Only change, no more Dollars. I guess Obamas plan for Change is working.
    At least in Russia I could always find a smoke,I thought American ment total freedom,but nobody here seems to care.

  14. “If that’s the way it is, then so be it,” Christensen said. “I’m sorry for some of the businessmen the law will impact, but they’re selling a deadly product.”

    My feeling is, so is he! when you take away our rights as Americans to choice for ourselves what way do in the pursuit of happiness!! You sir are taking away one mans right to earn a living off of a legal product available only to those over the age of 18, and my right to enjoy that product!!

    SHAME ON YOU!!!!!!!!!

  15. What a sad day when you here things like this we must get off of this kick on putting good honest people out of busisnessand telling us that tobacco is no good for you i would still like to think we are liveing in the united states of america however when you here stuff like this it makes me sick remember live free or die-FC.

  16. Welcome to Communist Russia…oops…I meant Communist America.

  17. This is pathetic –Hard working Americans being ousted by a government that promote’s free money to people that sit on their asses all day. This makes me want to puke. I can only imagine what these liberal pieces of cow paddies will do next.

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