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Stogie Commentary: Have You Contacted Your Congressman?

4 May 2011

After being on the defensive for decades, advocates of cigar rights are finally in the advantageous position of being able to push for a bill, instead of just trying to block the passage of bills that further infringe on the rights of cigar smokers.

On April 15, House Resolution 1639—”The Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2011″—was introduced in Congress by Rep. Bill Posey of Florida. Four other representatives joined as original co-sponsors: Ken Calvert (R-CA), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Tom Cole (R-OK) and Candice Miller (R-MI).

The proposed bill would stop the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from regulating premium cigars, which would likely be disastrous for cigar makers and consumers.

The step is necessary after a 2010 law that instructed the FDA to regulate cigarettes, but left the door open to the regulation of cigars.  While some observers predicted it would take years for the FDA to add cigars to its already large portfolio of regulated products, by April 2010 bureaucrats had already started the process, which could move forward at any moment.

If you are represented by one of the five Congressmen already on record in support of The Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2011, then you should take the time to thank them. But if your Representative is one of the 430 that hasn’t indicated their support yet, then it is even more important that you contact them today. That’s what I did recently when I sent the following letter to my Congressman, Jim Moran:

I write to express my strong support for HR 1639, the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act. Please join the bipatisan group of co-sponsors of this bill that would protect jobs here in Northern Virginia and all across America.

As a cigar enthusiast, I can assure you that premium handmade cigars are very different from mass-produced cigarettes. If the FDA regulates handmade cigars like cigarettes, a process it has already initiated, it will have a devastating impact on the cigar industry. Unlike cigarettes, whose primary purpose is to deliver nicotine, cigars are a hobby that is more like fine wine. If you visit the cigar shops I frequent (which are in your district), you’ll find people of all walks of life stopping in to relax for 30 minutes or an hour with a fine cigar while they enjoy the camaraderie of their neighbors. But all that may come to an end if the FDA imposes strict rules on handmade cigars and treats these artisan-made products like a mass-produced industrial product.

That’s why it is critical that Congress pass the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act, to protect cigars and instruct the FDA to use its resources in other areas. I hope you will become a co-sponsor of this important legislation and will push for passage through the House.

If you haven’t already, please join me in writing your Congressman to pass this important bill. You can find more information about how bad FDA regulation would likely be for handmade cigars here.

Patrick S

photo credit: CRA

5 Responses to “Stogie Commentary: Have You Contacted Your Congressman?”

  1. Jeff Mouttet Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 2:08 am #

    Great post and even better letter. Sorry, I stole some of the wording when I sent an e-mail to my reps. Couldn't resist, it was TOO good. LOL.

  2. George E. Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 4:34 am #

    Patrick is right on target. Passage of this legislation would have tremendous impact, likely far beyond the FDA. Everyone should get in touch with their representative. And in particular those of you whose rep is on the Energy & Commerce Committee where the bill has been referred. It's vital that it come out of committee positively. You'll find the committee members here:

  3. Foe Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 5:23 am #

    As a CRA member, I sent emails to my congressional reps a week or two ago. I do prefer the above prose to what I had sent, however.

  4. Rik Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 7:58 am #

    The cigar smokers have been trying to save themselves by throwing cigarette smokers under the bus for quite some time but If harmless e-cigs are being regulated and also banned in many locales, I'm not holding out much hope for this legislation.

  5. Monex Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 3:40 am #

    …..A cigar that is somehow unique has a good chance of attracting new customers. It could have an unusual blend of nontraditional tobaccos a special method of manufacture or growing the tobacco or even a respected cigar maker who created the cigar.