Thursday, June 25, 2009

Obama uncreates and unsaves 495 jobs 

I'd rather have had that harridan who badgered President Obama about his difficulties stopping smoking asked this question instead: Do you have any comment on the closing of the Hav-A-Tampa plant that died thanks to your insatiable need for revenues?
Tampa will lose part of its cigar heritage in August when Hav-A-Tampa shuts its factory near Seffner and lays off about 495 employees, closing a factory that has been operating since 1902.

The company announced the closing today.

Many employees there make Hav-A-Tampa's iconic Jewels, inexpensive machine-made cigars known for their birchwood tips. Some workers have labored there for two decades or longer, including one who's been there for 50 years, said Richard McKenzie, a senior vice president of human resources for Altadis USA, which owns Hav-A-Tampa. ...

Employees on Tuesday were digesting how they would find work in an economy where more than one in 10 people in the area already are unemployed.

"I've been here 12 years. I know someone's who's been there 20 years, 22 years," said Denise Harrison, an office manager at Hav-A-Tampa. "I'm sure we'll all land on our feet, but it will be harder for some people other than me who may have done nothing else."

...Several things conspired to hurt Altadis' sales, McKenzie said, including the recession and the growth of indoor smoking bans. The bans have especially hurt sales in cold-weather states, where it's impractical to smoke a cigar outdoors in the winter, he said.

However, the company attributed much of its trouble to the State Children's Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP, a federal program that provides health insurance to low-income children. It is funded, in part, by a new federal tax on cigars and cigarettes. McKenzie couldn't say how much sales of Hav-A-Tampa cigars had fallen off, but the numbers have dropped significantly, he said.

Previously, federal excise taxes on cigars were limited to no more than a nickel, said Norman Sharp, president of the Cigar Association of America trade group. The tax increase, which took effect April 1, raises the maximum tax on cigars to about 40 cents, Sharp said.
I used to carry those Jewels around the golf course back in my 20s, when I needed a cheap smoke that kept the flies off and tasted half-decent. They are a poor person's cigar, and putting an excise tax per cigar was bound to hurt cheaper cigars smoked by modest-income folks more than hurt your $10 stogie. Indeed, most of the cheap cigars you see behind the cashier at your Walgreens or Thrifty Drug are made in the States (the better ones, even those made by U.S. firms, are handrolled with cheaper labor in the Caribbean.

Way to go, Democratic Congress and President Obama! You've just uncreated 495 jobs!

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