AMERICA’S LARGEST CIGAR RETAILERS PREPARE TO STOP SHIPMENTS TO HAWAII NEXT MONTH
by Charlie Minato, Half Wheel, June 14, 2023
Due to a recently-passed law, two of the largest cigar retailers in the U.S. say they will stop shipping cigars to customers in Hawaii beginning July 1, 2023.
Cigars International and JR Cigar—two of the largest retailers in the world—will stop shipping to Hawaii, a move that will likely cause most of their competitors to follow suit. All of this is in response to S.B. 975, a recently-passed law in Hawaii that purportedly aims to cut down on youth vaping. The law introduces changes to the rules regarding shipping tobacco and vaping products to addresses in Hawaii. Included in the law is language that requires retailers to get a license. According to a source, the way the law is currently written, there is no way for an out-of-state retailer to get this particular license.
As such, the retailers would be in violation of the law, which would be a misdemeanor for shipments with a value of less than $10,000 and a class C felony if the shipment was valued at $10,000 or more.
A press release about the new law from Gov. Josh Green, a licensed physician, makes little mention of tobacco, let alone cigars. Instead, supporters of the bill focused on cracking down on youth vaping. A bill like this—targeting the shipping of vape products—would seem unnecessary in almost every state, except Hawaii and Alaska. While America’s three main delivery services—FedEx, UPS and USPS—have banned shipments of e-liquids and vapes to consumers in the continental U.S., the law governing USPS exempted shipments to consumers in Alaska, Hawaii and APO/DPO/FPO addresses.
Representatives from other large retailers either did not return messages from halfwheel clarifying their positions or declined to comment. For consumers, the changes will affect more than just Cigars International and JR Cigar. STG, which owns Cigars International, also owns Thompson Cigar, CigarBid, Cigar.com, Cigora and PipesandCigars.com. JR Cigar’s parent company also owns Cigars.com and Casa de Montecristo.
This is not the first time retailers have been prevented from shipping to certain states. Neither Cigars International nor JR Cigar currently ships to Utah, and South Dakota banned mail-order shipments of cigars until 2022.
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