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News: Senators Push FDA to Regulate Cigars, Ban Flavored Cigars

2 May 2012

According to an announcement by U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), the Senate Appropriations Committee added language to the 2013 appropriations bill for the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies that encourages the FDA to regulate cigars and ban “flavored” cigars.

The move came just as cigar enthusiasts passed the 25,000 signature threshold on a petition asking the White House to order the FDA not to expand its authority to include premium cigars. By reaching 25,000 signatures, the petition will now receive an official response from the Obama Administration.

The FDA appropriations bill, including the language pushing regulation of cigars, now moves to the Senate floor to be scheduled for a full vote. So far there is no indication that similar language will be included in the House version of the bill.

As in most anti-tobacco efforts, the senators cite “children” as the impetus for more regulation, despite the fact that it will exclusively be the legal choices of adults that will limited by FDA regulation of cigars. “The emergence of flavored cigars is a transparent effort by Big Tobacco to work around the new tobacco control law,” claimed Durbin (pictured), even though handmade premium cigars by companies like CAO, Rocky Patel, and Drew Estate are likely to be included in a “flavored cigar” ban.

Durbin and Lautenberg assert, without citing any evidence, that “cigars with candy-like [sic] flavorings such as strawberry, watermelon, vanilla, and chocolate are marketed to young people, and get them hooked on this deadly and addictive habit at a young age.” Nowhere do the Senators explain why or how these flavors are “candy-like” (considering that fruits and other flavors like chocolate and vanilla were in existence for centuries before they were used in candy) nor do they address the fact that they are primarily enjoyed by adults.

Regulation of cigars by the FDA could be devastating to the premium cigar industry, which helps provide 85,000 jobs in the U.S. and hundreds of thousands in Latin America. Ingredient disclosure, testing, and marketing restrictions would stifle the development of new cigar blends and eliminate events where cigar makers pass out free samples to cigar shop patrons.

Concerned cigar smokers may want to contact members of the House Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies, especially subcommittee Chair Jack Kingston (R-GA), to add language opposing the Senate’s push to have the FDA regulate cigars. They also should contact their senators to oppose the passage of the bill with the anti-cigar language and follow the IPCPR and CRA for updates.

Patrick S

photo credit: Flickr

12 Responses to “News: Senators Push FDA to Regulate Cigars, Ban Flavored Cigars”

  1. Ken Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 6:58 am #

    So in reality the petition drive was a wasted effort. As always the NANNY's in power will tell us what is good for us.

    The President will never even read the petition, nor will any of his like-minded cohorts. They are not interested in what we have to think. They pushed these regulations, including the health care bill, through and into law because they want the FDA and big government to control everything.

    • George E Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 10:49 am #

      Ken – Whether the petition will do any good or not is a separate question. But it was directed specifically at regulation of premium cigars, which HR1639 — the bill that would bar FDA regulation of those cigars — defines as "any roll of tobacco that is wrapped in leaf tobacco, contains no filter, and weighs at least 6 pounds per 1,000 count and i) does not include a cigarette (as such term is defined by section 900(3)) or a little cigar (as such term is defined by section 900(11))." Granted, the announcement by the two senators, both of whom are severely anti-tobacco, is vague and I haven't seen the actual language. But it appears that they are aiming at flavored cigars. And while I realize this may not sit well with many, my own opinion is that realistically it's only a matter of time before flavored cigars are eliminated.

      • Francisi Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 11:24 am #

        If it's only a matter of time before flavored cigars are eliminated, is it also only a matter of time before ALL cigars are eliminated?

      • George E Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

        Francisi – I would say not for a long time, especially if HR1639 becomes law. I know there's the slippery slope argument, but the fact that a number of states ban the sale of Everclear hasn't led to an alcohol ban. Nor did regulations on caffeine flavored alcohol drinks such as Four Loko. Even countries with pretty ridiculous tobacco restrictions, like Canada, haven't banned cigars.

      • Durbin is a douche Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 10:31 pm #

        No they didn't ban all alcohol or caffeine because they have huge lobbies, or in other words, a shit load of cash that they can buy there way out of regulation. Donate a little PAC money here, a little there, and when shit comes up, hey remeber i gave you cash for your campaign??? Yea could you drop that portion of the bill that fucks with our bottom line, thanks buddy. Complete bullshit. We don't live in a democracy anymore. Whoever the fuck thinks that is brain dead.

  2. Eric Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

    Excuse me Dick Turban, the "protecting" kids excuse is a weak one. tobacco is already regulated, 18yrs and older in (all?) states already. How is FDA regulation going to help? Makes we want to light up in angry defiance instead of for relaxation like I usually do.

  3. Dennis Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    Is this what we elect these guys for? Dosen't the good old USA have bigger problems that we need to work on: debt to China, Health Care, Social Security, etc. Maybe it's time to "clean house" in Washington. I know I'm going to do all I can in future elections.

  4. Michael Palmer Friday, May 4, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    That's ridiculous banning flavored cigars because kids get addicted to them. I have NEVER seen a kid smoking a flavored cigar unless it was gutted and filled with pot. I think it's bull, they're just trying to get their foot in the door on banning tobacco.

  5. Jonathan Drew Friday, May 11, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    The signature drive was not a waste of time and all of you should be applauded for participating in it. It is on brick on a wall of many bricks.

    We are going to win this battle to save ALL Premium Cigars.


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