AS AN AVID CIGAR SMOKER you may have heard that earlier this year, the Federal Drug Administration was given the authority to regulate tobacco products. According to a recent report from Cigar Rights of America (CRA), "In the July 7 Federal Register, FDA restated its authority to issue regulations deeming 'other tobacco products' to be subject to their domain [when the legislative intent was cigarettes and smokeless products]. They further stated 'The scope of the proposed rule deeming cigars to be subject to FDA's jurisdiction that was previously included in the Unified Agenda is being broadened to encompass products that meet the statutory definition of tobacco product." Therefore, unless action is taken quickly, the FDA plans to start their new timetable for such regulations this coming October.
Fortunately, House Bill H.R.1639, the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act, was introduced. This bill seeks to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to clarify the Food and Drug Administration's jurisdiction over certain tobacco products, and to protect jobs and small businesses involved in the sale, manufacturing and distribution of traditional and premium cigars. At last count H.R.1639 had at least 45 co-sponsors in The House. Recently, added support of the bill is due to the fight not only from CRA and The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR), but from concerned citizens like you who have taken the time to write your representatives in Washington.
Thankfully, another major hurdle was cleared when co-sponsors Senators Bill Nelson (D) and Marco Rubio (R) of Florida. introduced S1461, the companion bill to HR1639. S1461, like HR1639, seeks to separate cigars from cigarettes and other tobacco products in order to keep them from being regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Like The House version of this bill, it is called the "Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2011."
Should the FDA include premium cigars under their umbrella here's what will happen:
- You'll pay extremely higher prices for premium cigars.
- Flavored cigars will disappear.
- New blends would be subject to inspection, testing, and approval by the FDA, virtually tying the hands of manufacturers.
- Cigar box artwork will be disfigured by health risk warning labels.
- Marketing of premium cigars and in-store tasting events would be muzzled, nor would cigar stores be permitted to have walk-in humidors, and finally...
- NO MORE MAIL-ORDER CIGARS
And that's just for starters.
Please contact your U.S. Senators today! The last thing you want is the FDA having a say in how your favorite premium cigars are blended, imported and sold. In the meantime, we will continue to keep you updated on any further developments about these bills that come our way.
Cigar retailers including Famous Smoke Shop desperately need House and Senate support for and co-sponsorship of HR1639 and S1461 respectively, and we need you to urge them! It's the best thing you can do today to help save your cigars from being regulated by the FDA; and believe me, as if government wasn't big enough already, the last thing you want is the FDA having a say in how your favorite premium cigars are imported and marketed.
Right now is the perfect opportunity to tell your Senators about how FDA control of cigars will affect you as a consumer. To do so, simply follow these steps.
- Go to IPCPR's Legislative Action Center
- Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and on the right side of your screen, you will see a text box for entering your zip code. Enter it and click "Go."
- On the next screen, you will see your two U.S. Senators and under them you will see a pre-fab letter you can use or edit to add your own wording.
- Finally, preview your message, and if it's satisfactory, click the "Send Message" button.
Luckily, Congress is listening to us. We have a great opportunity to nail this one down, so don't delay, and pass this blog on to your cigar smoking amigos.