His father is one of the cigar industry’s legendary master blenders; Avo was his adopted uncle, he knows the cigar business inside and out. He’s also just a really nice guy: Klaas Pieter Kelner, Davidoff Cigars Brand Ambassador, who talks with us about growing up at the heart of the business, the appreciation of a fine cigar, and more
Will the government succeed in crushing our business?
Today, the handmade premium cigar industry is united in its effort to carve out a federal definition of premium cigars that will exempt it from FDA jurisdiction. It is impossible to understate the risk to the industry if the FDA takes regulatory control of cigars. An extreme, yet real example of the many regulations that the FDA may employ, is a federal law being proposed in Australia which calls for “Plain Packaging” on all tobacco products, including cigars. The new rule would require all tobacco products to be placed in olive green packs, ban the inclusion of company brand or logo, but yet the package would still contain graphic health warnings. These types of brutal regulations are part of a global effort that will reach our shores through the FDA unless we stop it.
Given the politics of our cause, it’s easy and frankly rational to get discouraged and surrender. But I’m reminded of my father’s and grandfather’s generation that were exiled from their native Cuba and had to start a brand new cigar industry from scratch. They lost their farms and cigar factories, but they started anew in the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua, among other countries. They did not surrender. We will not surrender. I encourage all of you to support the legislation that is introduced in the House and Senate by signing the petition at cra.org.
While not all of you may have a son that wants to get into the cigar business, I’m sure you have sons and daughters that you look forward to sharing a cigar with in the future. Get involved and let’s make it happen.
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Dan Carr, President of General Cigar, had this to say on the FDA fight:
Do you think CRA & IPCPR are doing a good job fighting the FDA?
We work closely with both the CRA and IPCPR to protect the rights of cigar smokers and to preserve the industry. Because the prospective FDA legislation poses a serious threat to the premium cigar industry, we have made our resources available to both organizations. As such, our dedicated federal and state lobbying teams are working to bolster the IPCPR and CRA’s efforts in helping ensure passage of H.R.1639 and S.1461.
Do you think CRA and IPCPR will be successful in getting the bills passed given the current political climate, with the Occupy Wall Street movement growing, etc.?
While it is difficult to predict with certitude whether any piece of legislation will pass, we are confident that HR 1639 is a strong bill legislators will support and vote in favor of.
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Keep the fight going, and please feel free to leave a comment below, especially if you’re a cigar manufacturer.