17 Apr 2012
The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees “the right of the people…to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Cigar smokers are now utilizing an online site set up by the White House to do just that and, if enough people sign, they’ll get an official response from the Obama Administration. The petition, which can be found here, asks the president to instruct the Food & Drug Administration not to regulate cigars. It reads:
“The FDA is considering the creation of regulations for the premium cigar industry. These regulations will jeopardize over 85,000 American jobs, destroy America’s “mom & pop” premium cigar retailers & manufacturers, and risk over 250,000 jobs in Latin America that produce cigars, impacting the economic/political stability in the region. We hope you will stand up for small businesses that dot Main Street America & recognize that premium cigars are enjoyed by adults, are not addictive, and therefore do not conform to the Congressional intent of the Family Smoking Prevention & Tobacco Control Act. Tell the FDA to leave our premium cigars alone. With this nation’s more pressing issues, harming my simple ability to enjoy a cigar should not be a priority of the government.”
Ever since June 2009 when President Obama signed the “Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act,” handmade cigars have been a potential target of the FDA. That bill instructed the FDA to regulate cigarettes but left the agency with the unilateral power to expand its jurisdiction to include premium handmade cigars. And only a year after the signing of the bill, the FDA took the first step towards regulating cigars by asking for comments on a proposed rule on implementing regulations.
The petition will need to collect 25,000 signatures in 30 days to get an official response. So far, since it was launched 6 days ago, the petition has over 12,000 signatures, leaving until May 11 to collect an additional 12,900 signatures.
Ultimately, given that Obama was a supporter of the FDA bill as a senator and later signed the bill into law as president, it’s unlikely that he’ll come out and announce that the FDA will no longer consider regulating cigars. Still, getting an official response from the Obama Administration can be a good thing, putting the president on record and drawing attention to all the jobs that would be destroyed by the FDA regulation of cigars. A response may even lead to more attention to the “Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act,” the joint name for two bills in Congress that would protect handmade cigars from the FDA once and for all.
If you haven’t already, sign here.
photo credit: FDA