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Written by Puff Staff

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

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Founded in 2009, CRA’s recent move marks the first time it has ever registered to lobby. CRA’s main aim is to protect cigar enthusiasts from the host of new tax increases and smoking bans on both state and local levels. Glynn Loope, CRA’s executive director, said, “The cigar consumers of America have basically never thought a lot of the things that have happened would happen to them.” The group was formed in the same year that Congress gave the FDA the authority to regulate cigarettes and items that the law defines as tobacco products. Although the FDA has yet to include cigars in its definition of tobacco products, which has kept them exempt from current restrictions, it claimed in July that changes would be coming in the future.

Cigar Rights of America will have quite the battle on its hands, as health groups stand in the way with their support of FDA regulation. A total of 40 organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Lung Association, sent a pro-FDA regulation letter to Congress in September. President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Matt Meyers said, “The reason Congress gave FDA authority is so that the decisions would be made based on facts and science, and not political muscle.” As for when a true definition of tobacco products will be proposed, FDA spokeswoman Stephanie Yao offered no official comment. Many around the industry feel that a formal definition should be released within the first half of 2012, however.

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Luckily, CRA does have the support and funding of various cigar manufacturers and retailers, along with its members from across the entire United States. One of the group’s main arguments as to why cigars should be treated differently than cigarettes and flavored cigars is their price. “The very price point of cigars puts them out of the hands of youth,” Loope suggested.

Republican Representative Bill Posey and Democratic Senator Bill Nelson have sponsored legislation that could offer some good news to cigar smokers. It would create an exception to the 2009 FDA law for what are considered to be “traditional large and premium cigars.” Such cigars would be classified as having no filter, being wrapped in tobacco leaf, and weighing “at least six pounds per 1,000 count.” Health groups have described the definition as being too broad, as it would let larger candy-flavored cigars to pass through the cracks.






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