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Commentary: Coping with a Post-FDA Cigar Industry

15 Jun 2016

[Below is a follow-up to a previous commentary on the grim FDA situation facing the cigar industry.]


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s cigar regulations will undoubtedly transform the industry, leading to the potential elimination of most sticks introduced after Feb. 15, 2007.

Obviously, that includes a lot great cigars. It also strikes at the heart of what many consumers enjoy about the pastime: discovering new and different cigars.

What it doesn’t have to mean, though, is an end to cigar smoking pleasure. In the words of Buddhist teacher Tara Brach, “A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.”

And that’s what we face—a major detour. It’ll require a lot of shifts in the way we think about and approach cigars.

For many, cigar smoking has become subject to the common consumer quest for something new. Indeed, “What’s new?” has got to be the most common question asked by customers at a tobacconist.

Scientists know that humans respond to novelty, and that novelty wears off over time. As professor Aimee Huff, who’s studied the issue, wrote: “the perception of newness is an important part of the consumption experience because it creates short-term value.”

Achieving that experience won’t be nearly as easy if all the FDA restrictions take effect as scheduled. That means we’ll have to adjust our approach.

For starters, instead of asking the clerk, “What’s new?” I suggest asking yourself, “What’s new for me?” There are likely to be hundreds of pre-2007 cigars you or I haven’t tried. Sure, maybe we don’t want to try half of them, but that still leaves a lot to check out.

Another approach is to thoroughly examine what it is about certain cigars that you enjoy most and look for others that match or come close. Some of them could be pre-2007 cigars, some may be among those that make it through the vetting process.

Thinking carefully about what you enjoy may also make it easier to find satisfaction with a smaller number of lines.

A return to the days when most cigar smokers stopped by their local shop periodically for the same box of, say, Romeo y Julieta or Montecristo, seems highly improbable, regardless of what happens. But continuing to sample a new release every week or so seems an equally remote possibility.

I, for one, intend to go on smoking and enjoying cigars, regardless of the obstacles. If I have to make an attitude adjustment in order to do it, I’ll make the effort.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

3 Responses to “Commentary: Coping with a Post-FDA Cigar Industry”

  1. Ken Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at 8:05 am #

    I suggest stocking up on your favorite boutique cigars now, especially if some of your favorites are newer than 2007, and I suspect most are. I fear that the smaller companies will go out of business because of the cost and time having to submit a new blend to the FDA which will probably take years to approve, if ever. The FDA’s goal is to eliminate all tobacco products.

    Torano Cigars did the smart thing, business wise, and sold out to General to maximize the value of his company. Once this happens there is no reason to assume that the blends Torano used will be the same as General uses, even though the bands and name will probably remain.

  2. JMac Thursday, June 16, 2016 at 9:28 am #

    George, the tone of your recent posts suggest a capitulation to the powers that be. It may be cheaper to litigate against the FDA than to submit to the FDA. In the next two years there will be dozens of cases before the courts regarding FDA overreach.

    If the FDA prevails, then do as Ken suggests, and as the grace period ends for many of these post 2007 blends, look for the big online shops to start giving them away at rock-bottom prices.

    Fortunately for me I smoke mostly PGs, most of which were blended before 2007.

  3. Mike Thursday, June 16, 2016 at 10:44 am #

    Even without lawsuits, nothing has to be pulled from shelves in the next 2 years or so. I do think lawsuits will delay the impact on the industry and may force some changes in the implemented FDA rules.

    A lot of things are still conjecture, such as the exact costs of compliance. The FDA has special rules in place for small manufacturers, so some may decide to continue operating.

    Also remember that the FDA has only pulled about 3 cigarette brands or blends off the market in the last 5 years, so I do not think that will happen en mass to cigars. Cigars introduced at least into August 2016 can continue to be sold until the FDA rules on them, which they may never get around to.