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The Tobacco Market, 1891

- from the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, Saturday, October 31, 1891


An Object Lesson on the Effect of Protection on a Commodity.


By the Provisions of the McKinley bill as to Tobacco, and the way in which in the End the Manufacturer and the Consumer will Share the Benefit—Wheeling’s Large Tobacco Industry

The tobacco industry of Wheeling has grown at a rate that very few people appreciate. In the three months last past the amount of money paid at the internal revenue office for stamps on cigars and manufactured tobacco showed an increase of twenty-five per cent over the same period of last year, and the rate of increase has been for some time steadily maintained at about that ratio. Of the fifty-five thousand dollars per mouth paid every year by Wheeling people for all purposes to the internal revenue officers, which is exclusive of the special tax stamps, an average of perhaps thirty-five or forty thousand dollars is for stamps on tobacco or cigars. There are manufactured in Wheeling in a month about 125,000 pounds of manufactured tobacco and 95,000 cigars and stogies.

As near as the figures can be arrived at there were consumed in the city in the three months which end this evening 4,102,175 pounds of leaf tobacco. Of this 2,910,175 pounds were consumed in the manufacture of smoking and chewing tobacco and 1,191,335 pounds in making cigars and stogies. There are many cities much better known as tobacco manufacturing points than Wheeling which do not consume half so much tobacco, and few that consume more. It will be seen that the tobacco interest is of some importance in the locality.

The other day an INTELLIGENCER reporter had a conversation with a largo dealer in leaf tobacco on the industry in general, but especially on the effect the McKinley tobacco tarriff on the Wheeling end of it. The gentleman is a Democrat, but in talking business politics evidently does not enter into his views. He said that the immediate effect of the increase on leaf tobacco had been a decided benefit to the farmer, for it had caused a decided increase in the price growers could realize on the product. For instance, Connecticut seed a year ago could be bought for fifty cents a pound, while now it costs seventy-five. The tobacco which the Wheeling manufacturer used to buy at fourteen cents for stogie wrappers now brings eighteen to twenty cents, and is used for nickel cigar wrappers, the imported leaf having got too high for such use. The manufacturer now has to pay more for his tobacco, but the consumer does not feel the increase, and in the long run this gentleman thinks there can be no doubt that tobacco will be as cheap as ever, but there will be more domestic leaf used, and the farmers will in this way get considerably more money out of it.

As to the quality of the cigars to be made, he thinks the American leaf is just as good as the Sumatra or Havana. He said he would just as soon smoke a Connecticut wrapped cigar as one done up in genuine Havana. It is simply a question of putting enough duty on to stimulate the American grower to improve his weed and to raise enough for the home market. That done, this manufacturer could not see why a man who still retained a prejudice for the foreign grown tobacco should not pay it the luxury of consulting that prejudice.

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-Information on this page compiled by erothenbueheler
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