Gotham Government Relations Forms New York’s First State Tobacconist Association

New York City, New York-
In an historic gathering of statewide professional tobacconists, a group of over two dozen retail tobacconists gathered at the Grand Havana Room in New York City to launch the New York Tobacconist Association (NYTA).

With the onslaught of anti-tobacco ordinances and legislation, the coalition of traditional competitors are coming together to combat further intrusion into their businesses, to oppose measures that can impact the product choices of their patrons, to address the cost of both doing business in New York, and the cost of goods to their customers.

As noted by Ron Melendi, General Manager of De La Concha tobacconists of New York City, “It is time for our voices to be heard. For too long, we have let our representatives pass laws that adversely affect our businesses, and the ability of our customers to enjoy a perfectly legal array of products. It’s time to say enough is enough.” Melendi was named the founding chairman of the NYTA.

At the heart of it all is Gotham Government Relations, the firm hired by NYTA to lobby these local and state issues.

“Our goal is to educate our legislators on these issues and to advocate that they are currently eroding the rights of New York State residents,” said Brad Gerstman, partner at Gotham Government Relations. “Our clients are small business owners who make a tremendous contribution to New York culture and the economy; and thus, in turn, pay significant taxes to the state and local governments”. “We must stop the policies of hurting our local businesses, who serve adult customers and have made a choice to smoke in cigar bars and smoke shops”; said David Schwartz, partner at Gotham. “Certain members of the legislature want to control every choice that New Yorkers make and its time our Government stop intruding on personal freedoms”, said Schwartz.

The New York effort is also being assisted by Cigar Rights of America (CRA) as a national consumer-based organization for cigar enthusiasts. CRA Executive Director Glynn Loope was present at the organizational meeting, stating “Each of these shops represent thousands of customers. Now, they are voters for the cause. We will educate them about how their representatives vote, about the legislation they introduce, and work to halt this Prohibition Era style of policies flowing from New York City to Albany.”

With the recently adopted flavored tobacco ban central to the group’s concern, there will be a comprehensive agenda of issues to be addressed. In addition to the flavored tobacco issue, the group will address fees and taxation, regulatory matters, and any further indoor or outdoor smoking restrictions.

The New York Tobacconist Association elected a charter board of directors, adopted by-laws, and initiated an “open door” policy that any premium licensed tobacconist in New York can join the group. A plan is currently underway for statewide recruitment for consumer members joining Cigar Rights of America, and retail tobacconists joining the NYTA.

About Cigar Rights of America

Cigar Rights of America (CRA) was founded on the principle of fighting for the freedom to enjoy premium cigars. A consumer-based, non-profit public advocacy organization that works with local, state and federal governments to protect the freedoms of cigar enthusiasts, CRA works with its constituency of members including manufacturers, retailers and cigar enthusiasts to focus on opposing restrictive smoking bans and increased taxation of cigars.

About Gotham Government Relations

New York’s fastest-growing government relations firm, Gotham Government Relations, provides lobbying, advocacy and consulting to its clients. Gotham offers its clients forward-thinking strategies that tap into political trends and opportunities. The work of its partners has resulted in shaping public policy on a number of key matters, including business advocacy and strategy; land use; special education; and charitable causes. For more information, log onto or call us at 516-880-8170.

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