Written by Puff Staff

Saturday, 23 June 2012

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cigar legislationflavored cigars

legleadpicDo you want the federal government or local authorities to be able to tell you what kind of cigars you’re allowed to buy?  If not, you should think about contacting your Congressperson right now. There are new regulations being considered that could severely restrict the sale of some tobacco products.





Should a government agency have the power to regulate some kinds of cigars along with cigarettes and chewing tobacco? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering a plan to make cigars subject to the same rules that govern the sale of cigarettes. Back in April of 2011, the FDA first announced its intentions to draft and issue new regulations on OPT (other tobacco products). Those regulations could cover product listing, ingredient listing, product registration, requirements for manufacturing practices, user fees and provisions for misbranding and adulteration.

That could mean that the makers of some premium cigars could be forced to include health warnings on their packaging and ban shop owners from taking orders by phone. Sellers may be required to store their cigars in areas accessible only to employees. The FDA rules may also impact cigar flavors, and well as restrict the sizes of cigar packages and minimum pricing.



Predictably, cigar makers, sellers and smokers are not happy about this possibility, and one of them is doing something about it. John Anderson, the owner of the 125-year-old Washington, D.C. cigar shop W. Curtis Draper Tobacconist, told the press why he opposes the regulations. “There’s a lot more that goes into purchasing a premium cigar than just a brand. There’s a romance to it.”

That’s why Anderson, with help from a team of lobbyists, has guided lawmakers in writing a bill that would protect the industry from intrusions by the FDA. The bill, introduced by Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.) proposes to exempt premium cigars from regulation by the government. Premium cigars are defined as unfiltered products wrapped in leaf tobacco that weight more than six pounds per 1,000 units.

Politics make for strange bedfellows and lawmakers who’ve probably never been on the same side of any issue before are banding together to fight these new regulations on cigars from the FDA. So far, nearly 200 congressmen are on board supporting the bill, including figures from all over the U.S. and both sides of the aisle, including Pete Sessions (R-Texas), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Ill.), Steve Israel (D-NY) and Allen West (R-Fla.)

Posey spokesperson George Cecala explained why the bill was proposed. “We don’t want them to regulate premium cigars. We are the legislative branch and we determine that. You have a number of people at the FDA who are bent at chipping away at people’s abilities to enjoy things.”

Opposing the cigar-friendly legislation are anti-smoking groups like The American Cancer Society and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, who argue that the makers of flavored cigar-like products that appeal to younger smokers would use this bill to avoid regulation. Gregg Haifley, lobbyist for the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, stated, “We think it is not good public health policy to create an exemption for an entire category of tobacco products that cause cancer.”

While the bill is intended to exempt the pricey premium cigars favored by adult smokers, some products that appeal to teens could also claim exemption, like Swisher Sweets cigarillos and blunts, and Phillie cigarillos. These come in flavors like watermelon, banana, strawberry, chocolate and grape. According to data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, both Swisher Sweets and Phillies are very popular with smokers 12-17.



Time may be running out for the cigar-loving legislators, since an FDA spokeswoman has stated that the agency is “working as expeditiously as possible to issue the proposed rule.”

It’s not just the FDA that’s trying to restrict the sale of cigars. There are also cities and states looking to pass legislation that would ban the flavored cigars favored by young smokers as well as sales of single cigars.

The first health board to impose these restrictions on cigars was the Boston Public Health Commission, whose new rules took effect on February 1, 2012. Other health boards in Massachusetts are also considering taking similar steps. These regulations are opposed by the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO), and its executive director Tom Briant gave this statement: “As NATO has argued to local health boards, the state legislature has not granted a health board the authority to regulate cigar package size nor minimum cigar prices.”


0 # Very well written articleJohn Van Aggelen 2012-06-24 05:00
I didn't think I would enjoy reading but I did and both parties were well represented. Real food for though and makes me wonder, are you a member of the CRA?

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