On Thursday, April 24th, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that they intend to heighten the restrictions on tobacco products in the US. The FDA has had oversight of the tobacco industry since 2009. Under the new rules, the FDA would become more involved in tobacco product manufacturing and distribution than ever before, and will impose harsher restrictions than in the past. The FDA has however stated that premium cigars may be exempted from some of these harsh measures.
Nothing has been decided for sure at this juncture, but the FDA has proposed an option which could “exclude from the scope of this proposed rule certain cigars that we refer to as ‘premium cigars.’” For the next 75 days, the public is invited to comment on the proposed exception. Now is the time to reach out to the government and let them know why premium cigars are special and deserve special status.
The majority of cigars which sold in the US are mass-market cigars, made by machine and not by hand. These cigars may range in size from cigarette-sized to full-sized, and are generally made of lower-quality tobacco. As they account for the majority of cigars in the USA at this point in time, it is easy to see why the FDA would want to regulate them. That being said, premium cigars are quite different, and are rolled by hand, and made out of higher-quality tobacco. Whereas mass-market cigars, like cigarettes, are made for mass-market consumption, premium cigars are designed for the aficionado.
Speaking about the FDA’s proposal to exempt premium cigars from their restrictions, J. Glynn Loope, executive director of Cigar Rights of America, stated, “It appears that two years’ worth of education work has paid off to a degree because it does seem that (the FDA is) recognizing the difference between premium cigars and e-cigarettes and mass market products.” Cigar Rights of America is a lobbyist group which is comprised of cigar manufacturers as well as cigar enthusiasts and customers.
Eric Newman, president of Tampa’s J.C. Newman Cigar Co., recognized the huge role played by the Cigar Rights of America lobby when he stated, “Where I was pleasantly surprised was the reference to the FDA taking a special look at premium cigars. I think that’s a real credit to the people involved with the CRA.”
Loope emphasized that the 75-day period is a critical one, and that it is absolutely vital for cigar smokers, sellers, and manufacturers to take this opportunity to speak up and explain to the FDA why it is important to support cigar smokers’ rights. Anyone can speak up for the premium cigar world, so if you enjoy your premium cigars and wish to have unfettered access to them in the future, now is the time to implore the FDA to support the option for premium cigars.