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Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Gottlieb Confirmed as FDA Commissioner, CRA Asks for 100,000 Petitions to Congress, and More

12 May 2017

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post our sampling of cigar news and other items of interest from the week. Below is our latest, which is the 530th in the series.

1) This week, Scott Gottlieb—a 44-year-old physician, clinical assistant professor at New York University School of Medicine, and internist at Tisch Hospital—was confirmed as the new commissioner of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Gottlieb takes over the agency at a crucial time for premium cigars, though cigars are not expected to be his top priority (according to the Los Angeles Times, he will first and foremost focus on the epidemic of opioid drug use). That said, we know cigars are on Gottlieb’s radar; his vocal criticism of FDA authority over cigars is the reason cigar industry trade groups have supported his nomination to head the agency. Yesterday, Cigar Rights of America (CRA) reaffirmed its support of Gottlieb in an email. “Confirmation of Dr. Gottlieb is a welcomed sign for the premium cigar industry. CRA looks forward to communicating with Dr. Gottlieb on addressing the bureaucratic overreach in the regulation of premium handmade cigars, consistent with sentiments he expressed in an op-ed that appeared in the New York Post.”

2) In that same CRA email yesterday, the organization is calling for 100,000 petitions to Congress to support an exemption for premium cigars from FDA regulation. “Take action now, and let your voice be heard. Contact your member(s) in the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate today and ask that they support H.R. 564 and S. 294, respectively… Don’t just sign the petition, spread the word. If you are a consumer, send the link to your friends. If you are a retailer, share it with your customer base. Let’s grow the numbers and make sure Congress hears from all of us.” The petition can be found here.

3) Minnesota state representative Greg Davids is pushing a budget compromise deal that includes lowering taxes on premium cigars, but Minnesota Governor  Mark Dayton is opposed to the deal. Under current rates, cigars are taxed at 95 percent of the wholesale price with a maximum tax of $3.50. Davids’ tax bill would cut the maximum tax to 50 cents. “At a Capitol press conference on Tuesday, the governor repeatedly mentioned the cigar tax cut being added after the state’s revenue commissioner had been told she had the final version of the bill. Davids called the governor’s statement false, saying that the commissioner had been warned more things may be added to the bill. Davids noted the cigar tax language was part of the House tax bill… He said he backs the tax cut because Minnesota’s taxes on cigars are among the highest in the nation.”

4) Boat International Magazine has a few tips for smoking a cigar on a boat, which isn’t always easy given wind, waves, and humidity.

5) Inside the Industry: Gurkha Cigars announced last week its acquisition of the American Caribbean Cigars Factory in Estelí, Nicaragua, the company’s first factory. Gurkha’s partnership with the factory began five years ago. Currently, five million Gurkha cigars are produced at the factory each year.

6) From the Archives: Few words are more frightening to a cigar collector than “tobacco beetle.” You’ll learn how to prevent and deal with the pests here.

7) Deal of the Week: We recommend Bespoke Post, a monthly collection of awesome items delivered to your door for just $45. Available boxes include a mint julep set, fine bar accessories, shaving kits, wine, workout gear, coffee kits, and more. You can skip or purchase every month. Sign up today.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Scott-Gottlieb.com

Drew Estate

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