Regulatory Robber Barons: The cigar industry vs. cigar rolling papers 

What if the makers of Campbell's soup could prohibit you from buying vegetables and tomato paste? Or if burger joints could outlaw the purchase of ground beef and hamburger buns?

Well, the cigar lobby might be on the verge of pulling off an analogous stunt, according to the Register-Guard of Eugene, Oregon:

The Cigar Association of America requested House Bill 2363 as one of several such proposals in state capitals nationwide, said its Oregon lobbyist, Paul Cosgrove.

The bill would make it illegal for anyone in Oregon to “sell or dispense” these items, also known as cigar or blunt wrappers.

Jacob Sullum at Reason explains one likely motivations for this regulatory push: roll-your-own cigars take away business from cigar-makers. Of course, the cigar-makers give a different explanation:

The cigar group, which represents manufacturers, is planning to argue in Salem, [Oregon,] as it has been contending in other state capitals, that the reputation of its own products is being sullied by the marketing of these wrappers to pot smokers under the guise of being part of the cigar culture.

"We don't want to be connected with drugs," [lobbyist Paul] Cosgrove said. "We have a legitimate, lawful product."

Got that? Cigar makers want to ban a perfectly legal product -- loose cigar wrappers -- because they could be used for illegal purposes. Funny enough, cigar makers recently made exactly the opposite argument. Again, Sullum from Reason has the goods. It turns out the CAA recently killed regulations on flavored cigars that some consumers apparently pack with pot, and:

One of the plaintiffs that successfully challenged the law was the Cigar Association of America (CAA), which said legal products should not be banned simply because they can be used for illegal purposes.

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Timothy P. Carney

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