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Written by Puff Staff

Saturday, 30 June 2012

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The premium cigar market is not the main target of the FDA, but the industry could become collateral damage in the war on the real culprit—small, cheap, flavored cigars that are generally sold in convenience stores.


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Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, blames the small cigars and flavored tobacco wrappers easily and inexpensively available in a variety of flavors for getting young people into smoking. He feels the need is to “put an end to the production and marketing of products that have the greatest appeal to youth.”

According to the 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, almost 19% of high school boys now smoke cigars. That’s why Myers sees them as a threat. “These highly flavored little cigars clearly appeal disproportionately to young people and have the potential to serve as starter tobacco products.”

He added that, “the FDA has the ability to segment which cigar products pose the greatest risk both in terms of disease and in terms of youth use and to design regulations appropriate for each, which is what we'd like to see them do.”

But will those regulations intended to prevent children from smoking infringe on the rights of adults to enjoy tobacco as they please? Another foe of the new regulations is Alfred Moreno, manager of Nicahabana Cigars in Tampa, Florida’s, Ybor City. Moreno feels that the federal government has turned into a bully that unfairly taxes the tobacco industry.

Moreno told the Tampa Tribune, “We’re regulated enough. We don't need any more regulation. Everybody knows smoking is bad for your health. It’s on TV 24 hours a day.”

Moreno sees more government regulation as a threat to the historical roots of the industry, especially in Tampa, where those roots go back to the 19th century. “This is our heritage. You’re taking a national heritage if you restrict us.”

One possible new restriction could be banning customers from entering humidors. In Canada, which has already implemented harsher regulations on tobacco, customers must pick their cigar choices from a chart and have them brought out by the seller.

“If we go to that extreme, the cigar industry would drop dramatically," Moreno stated. “People like to look and feel it. A picture doesn’t have smell. It doesn’t have touch. The reason we’re still here is when you pick up a cigar you can feel the freshness.”

Unfortunately, the FDA’s zeal to keep tobacco away from kids could negatively impact the livelihood of the people who make and sell premium cigars. One of those people is Rocky Patel, who left his career as an entertainment lawyer to found a boutique cigar business in his Florida garage.


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Patel told the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “I gave up a law practice to start this dream ... I worked relentlessly and built this company and started with nothing. We went from making 100,000 cigars to about 18 million cigars (each year) and all this could be taken away with the stroke of a pen from the FDA.”








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