[Updated 22nd November to add link to the response to proposed new regulations]
As some of my readers knows, I'm an aficionado of Cigars, to the extent I bought my own Cigar Importer and Store. The picture below is from the 20th best bar in the world in 2017, and they sell our cigars of course!
But the government is certainly not making it easy to run any kind of store in Norway; Beside the regular bureaucracy that drives up the cost of businesses, there are severe anti-tobacco drivers that impacts a cigar store, including tobacco taxes. The tobacco taxes are of course only paid by those of us trying to run a legal business, and not by the numerous customers importing illegally directly or buying obviously non-taxed cigars.
Sweden's minister of Businsess, Bjørn Rosengren, in 1999, proclaimed Norway as the last soviet state. There are few reasons to doubt that the Norwegian Nanny-state has only one goal of reducing the individual's rights and growth of small businesses with a volatile regulation and increased reporting requirements. The Swede's observation continues to serve as an acute observation.
Augusto has previously participated in responses to changes to regulation in several rounds, including Plain tobacco packaging in 2015 and tobacco regulation in 2016. This time around, though, the Norwegian government was in a rush. The government required a rash ratification to give Norway the opportunity to participate in the international cooperation against illegal trade with tobacco products. This rush is the reason that the change to regulation for tobacco product regulation is sent out with less than 6 weeks of time to reply, even thought the minimum requirement in Norway is normally 3 months. Of course, the hearing, doesn't mention that the reason for the delay is the government not having bothered to send out something since 2014.
The issue is increased further with the government stating that the expectation is that the continuing regulation the next years will be under development and changes to laws and regulations are to be expected. Does that mean that the businesses will be expected to further have to react to uncertain frameworks with short timelines? Even the Norwegian department states that there are may parallel changes the last few years, something that has caused a bit of uncertainty in the systemics of the law.
The administration of the regulations becomes even worse when the government on a whim decides to changes practices that have been working for more than 20 years; mainly the administration of warning labels to cigars imported in Norway; without even a hint ahead of time: So a pallet of cigars that was legally imported by a competitor of ours got destructed and they were fined for it. And this happened even though international cigar stores regularly sends boxes of cigars to Norwegian customers without any reaction to it.
Today Augusto Cigars is working on its its response to the changes to regulation on illegal imports of tobacco in Norway (which will also be in Norwegian). If you like cigars you might also have something to add to this discussion ahead of the 22nd of November deadline.
Update 22nd November: Link to Augusto's response