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News: Over a Year and a Half Later, White House Still Silent on FDA Cigar Petition

26 Nov 2013

Why does the Obama White House refuse to answer a petition regarding the forthcoming Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulation of cigars, when it has answered numerous other petitions that were filed more recently and had fewer signers?

wtpIn 2011, the Obama White House announced We The People. The concept was simple. “Individuals will be able to create and sign petitions seeking action from the federal government on a range of issues. If a petition gathers enough signatures, White House staff will review it, ensure it is sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response.”

Originally the threshold for an official response was 5,000 signatures within 30 days, but later it was raised to 25,000 signers, and more recently to 100,000. For the most part it worked as intended. According to WHPetitions.info, which tracks the 235 petitions that have reached the required threshold, 209 (88%) have received the promised response, with an average wait time of just 69 days.

But not all petitions have been answered in a timely fashion, including one about cigars. On April 11, 2012, Jeff Borysiewicz, owner of Corona Cigar Co. in Orlando, filed the petition asking the President to order the FDA to not use its discretion to regulate handmade cigars:

Dear Mr. President:

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 and pop” premium cigar retailers and 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 and 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.

Cigar consumers, grassroots activists, websites, cigar sellers, and manufacturers soon banded together to promote the petition. By April 25, it reached the 25,000 signatures needed to qualify for an official response from the administration. Before the 30-day deadline ended, the petition collected nearly 39,000 signatures.

While the average response has taken just over two months, 19 months have passed and the Administration has not yet issued any answer to the 39,000 people who signed in favor of protecting cigars. Only one other petition has been pending longer.

Patrick S

photo credit: White House

Drew Estate

7 Responses to “News: Over a Year and a Half Later, White House Still Silent on FDA Cigar Petition”

  1. Cigar Seeker Tuesday, November 26, 2013 at 11:30 am #

    One thing is not clear to me. You said the threshold for response eventually was raised to 100,000. Could that be why no response has occured to a petition with 39,000 signatures? Or is this a case of ex poste facto?

    • Patrick Semmens Tuesday, November 26, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

      The website acknowledges that the FDA Cigar petition reached the threshold necessary to warrant a response. They just haven't answered. Further a number of petitions that recently received responses had 25K signatures but not 100K. So it's not a case of moving the goal posts after the fact, it's just a case of being ignored.

      • Cigar Seeker Tuesday, November 26, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

        Ah yes. All petitions meeting a signature threshold (constantly changing) will defrinitely get a response, unless said petitions conflict with the goals of the administration.

        "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan."

  2. Andy Tuesday, November 26, 2013 at 11:49 am #

    One thing is clear to me. These FDA regulations on premium cigars are coming, and they're going to be a disaster. Far fewer limited edition smokes. Restrictions on marketing and events. Less industry innovation. More barriers and costs for boutique manufacturers. Higher prices and lower quality.

  3. EdM Tuesday, November 26, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

    What was the other petition that has been pending longer? Curious as to what other thing the government doesn't want to deal with other than cigars – besides agreeing on anything in general.

    • Patrick Semmens Tuesday, November 26, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

      The petition that is pending an answer even longer is: Require all Genetically Modified Foods to be labeled as such https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/require

      Interestingly, another pending petition involves the FDA and electronic cigarettes. That one has been waiting 8 months.

  4. test Saturday, November 30, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

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