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Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Rocky Patel Hits the Airwaves, Spending Package to Provide No Relief for Cigars, and More

23 Mar 2018

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 571st in the series.

1) In a rare instance of the issue of premium cigar regulations taking center stage on television, cigar icon and Cigar Rights of America (CRA) board member Rocky Patel appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight on Fox News Channel to advocate against onerous U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. “Consumers, manufacturers, and retail tobacconists rallied around their televisions to hear the message of government overreach, economic harm, and the threat to jobs in the United States and abroad,” said CRA in an email. You can watch Patel’s entire appearance here.

2) Despite Rocky Patel’s call for rationality, the $1.3 trillion spending package that seems to have found a consensus in Congress reportedly does not include a bill to exempt premium cigars from FDA regulation. The bill was originally folded in as a rider, but it did not survive negotiations. The White House has already announced its support of the package. At the time of this writing, the House had passed the bill, which funds the government until October; it is currently being considered in the Senate, “which has little time to pass it before the government’s current funding expires at 12:01 a.m. Saturday,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Of the disappointing news, CRA Executive Director J. Glynn Loope had this to say via email: “Despite not being in this most recent budget package, it is important to remember that this is a long-term fight to protect this skilled artisan pursuit of making, selling, and enjoying premium handmade cigars. Since April 2011, over 280 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 26 members of the U.S. Senate have said ‘yes’ to such a proposition, and over 70 of those voted for the original Tobacco Control Act. This has worked to make the case that the premium cigar industry is an unintended consequence of the original act, and that these regulations go well beyond congressional intent.”

3) Following last week’s nicotine reduction proposed rulemaking, this week the FDA announced another comment period regarding flavored tobacco products. Citing tobacco usage by youth and young adults, the rule could be the first step towards banning or regulating flavored or infused cigars.

4) Inside the Industry: Cigar Aficionado reports that 2017 cigar imports were the highest in almost 20 years. According to the annual Cigar Association of America (CAA) report, over 330 million cigars were imported, a 2.4 percent increase from 2016. For the second straight year, Nicaragua topped the Dominican Republic as the top importer of cigars, but both countries increased their imports.

5) From the Archives: As the FDA considers more regulations on cigars and other tobacco products, it is important to remember the FDA has a history of misrepresenting the facts surrounding tobacco usage and minors.

6) Deal of the Week: StogieGuys.com recommends Bespoke Post, a monthly collection of awesome items (think fine bar accessories, shaving kits, workout gear, and more) delivered for just $45. Of note is the Churchill box, which features four cigars, an ashtray made of reclaimed wood, an odor-eating candle, cedar spills, and a cutter. Once you are signed up, there is no obligation; you can skip or purchase each month. Sign up here in the next five days to be eligible for the April box.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: Fox News

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