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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

Drew Estate