Smokeasy's Letters to Congress: Exempt Premium Cigars From FDA Regulation

It's been 48 hours now since the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released their 499-page final ruling that would deem additional tobacco products subject to the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, as amended by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act ("Tobacco Control Act") - thereby regulating premium cigars, and in some cases under harsher terms than cigarettes and other tobacco products..


As a member of Cigar Rights of America (CRA), I've committed my support to their cause - fighting cigar smoking bans, ridiculous and outrageous cigar tax increases, and the overall fight for the right to enjoy cigars. As there hasn't been any movement on the Congressional bills introduced seeking to exempt premium cigars from FDA regulation, despite the fact that the bills have continued to gain co-sponsors, I have once again submitted my letters urging support from my Congressional leadership here in the state of New Jersey. As Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is one of the original co-sponsors, I've submitted e-mails to Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ).


Dear Rep. Watson Coleman:


As your constituent and voter, I urge you to join many of your Congressional colleagues and co-sponsor H.R. 662 – Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2015. H.R. 662 was introduced on 2/2/2015 by Rep. Bill Posey [R-FL-8] – it was Referred to the Subcommittee on Health on 2/6/15. H.R. 662 amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to exempt traditional large and premium cigars from regulation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and from user fees assessed on tobacco products by the FDA; thereby, protecting thousands of small businesses like our local cigar shop and our ability to enjoy premium cigars as adult consumers.


In April 2014, the FDA issued 241 pages of proposed regulations on the premium cigar industry for the first time in history. These regulations will be detrimental to the consumer, retailer, and manufacturing interests in the premium cigar industry. H.R. 662 will work to protect not only the enjoyment of premium cigars, but will clarify the original congressional intent of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Tobacco Control Act).


As a business owner in the cigar industry, and a cigar enthusiast and certified tobacconist, I want to continue to have the freedom to purchase and enjoy a premium cigar at my leisure.


Some of the regulations that the FDA has proposed that would inhibit my ability enjoy premium cigars include the following:

  • The FDA has said “no free samples” are to be offered by premium cigar manufacturers. Adult consumers should be able to sample a premium cigar before making such a purchase;

  • The FDA has said that my favorite manufacturers of premium cigars must submit their blends to the agency, before they can even enter the market. This will eliminate special release, vintage and small-batch cigars, due to mandates that cigar blends be submitted, tested and pre-approved by the FDA before being released for sale;

  • Requiring pre-market review will slow the process of new products, because the FDA has proven that it cannot handle the workload for the products Congress has already told them to regulate; much less thousands upon thousands of applications for premium handmade cigars;

  • Costs will increase significantly, production will be hindered, and development of new premium cigars will be prevented - threatening premium cigar shops that rely on these products for their business and livelihood;

  • The FDA has said that to be classified as a “premium” cigar, and possibly get an exemption from some of these regulations, that it has to cost at least $10; and

  • Imposition of new “user fees” (tax) on cigars, to finance FDA regulators.


If the FDA’s actions are not curtailed, the following are distinct possibilities of what could happen to the premium cigar industry:

  • Ban of walk-in humidors, self-serve cigar displays, and mail-order/internet cigar sales;

  • Defacement of ornate, decorative cigar boxes, often considered an art form with grotesque graphic images positioned to be tobacco health warnings;

  • Ban of cigar events where cigar samples are available to legal-aged adults; and

  • Limits on cigar marketing and advertising.


In closing, I am urging you to join many of your colleagues and support the premium cigar industry by co-sponsoring H.R. 662. Congress should exempt premium cigars from regulatory authority by the FDA, especially since regulation of the industry goes beyond the intent of the Tobacco Control Act, which was intended to focus on curbing issues related to youth usage, access, and nicotine addiction. Despite the evidence that has been presented to the FDA, the data that the agency has utilized to arrive at their decision are inaccurate and skewed to represent a high margin of machine-made and small cigars, neither of which are considered (nor can be classified as) premium cigars.


Thank you very much for your time, consideration, and attention to this matter.


Warm regards,


Malik N. Cobb, Sr., CCT

Founder/Owner

Humidor Season, LLC

East Windsor, NJ

mcobb@humidorseason.com

Dear Sen. Booker:


As your constituent and voter, I urge you to join many of your Congressional colleagues and co-sponsor S. 441 – Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2015. S. 441 was introduced on 2/10/2015 by Sen. Bill Nelson [D-FL], it was read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. S. 441 is identical to H.R.662 and amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to exempt traditional large and premium cigars from regulation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and from user fees assessed on tobacco products by the FDA; thereby, protecting thousands of small businesses like our local cigar shop and our ability to enjoy premium cigars as adult consumers. The bill was also co-sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez on 2/11/15.


In April 2014, the FDA issued 241 pages of proposed regulations on the premium cigar industry for the first time in history. These regulations will be detrimental to the consumer, retailer, and manufacturing interests in the premium cigar industry. S. 441 will work to protect not only the enjoyment of premium cigars, but will clarify the original congressional intent of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Tobacco Control Act).


As a business owner in the cigar industry, and a cigar enthusiast and certified tobacconist, I want to continue to have the freedom to purchase and enjoy a premium cigar at my leisure.


Some of the regulations that the FDA has proposed that would inhibit my ability enjoy premium cigars include the following:

  • The FDA has said “no free samples” are to be offered by premium cigar manufacturers. Adult consumers should be able to sample a premium cigar before making such a purchase;

  • The FDA has said that my favorite manufacturers of premium cigars must submit their blends to the agency, before they can even enter the market. This will eliminate special release, vintage and small-batch cigars, due to mandates that cigar blends be submitted, tested and pre-approved by the FDA before being released for sale;

  • Requiring pre-market review will slow the process of new products, because the FDA has proven that it cannot handle the workload for the products Congress has already told them to regulate; much less thousands upon thousands of applications for premium handmade cigars;

  • Costs will increase significantly, production will be hindered, and development of new premium cigars will be prevented - threatening premium cigar shops that rely on these products for their business and livelihood;

  • The FDA has said that to be classified as a “premium” cigar, and possibly get an exemption from some of these regulations, that it has to cost at least $10; and

  • Imposition of new “user fees” (tax) on cigars, to finance FDA regulators.


If the FDA’s actions are not curtailed, the following are distinct possibilities of what could happen to the premium cigar industry:

  • Ban of walk-in humidors, self-serve cigar displays, and mail-order/internet cigar sales;

  • Defacement of ornate, decorative cigar boxes, often considered an art form with grotesque graphic images positioned to be tobacco health warnings;

  • Ban of cigar events where cigar samples are available to legal-aged adults; and

  • Limits on cigar marketing and advertising.


In closing, I am urging you to join many of your colleagues and support the premium cigar industry by co-sponsoring S. 441. Congress should exempt premium cigars from regulatory authority by the FDA, especially since regulation of the industry goes beyond the intent of the Tobacco Control Act, which was intended to focus on curbing issues related to youth usage, access, and nicotine addiction. Despite the evidence that has been presented to the FDA, the data that the agency has utilized to arrive at their decision are inaccurate and skewed to represent a high margin of machine-made and small cigars, neither of which are considered (nor can be classified as) premium cigars.


Thank you very much for your time, consideration, and attention to this matter.


Warm regards,


Malik N. Cobb, Sr., CCT

Founder/Owner

Humidor Season, LLC

East Windsor, NJ

mcobb@humidorseason.com

JOIN US - JOIN THE FIGHT!

Click the pic below for additional information about the CRA and how to become a member...TODAY!

© 2020 Smokeasy­  All rights reserved.  No content may be used without expressed written permission.