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  • Writer's pictureBen Balliro

FDA, the Government, and Smoking

As we all know in August of last year our beloved US Government Agency the Food and Drug Administration (or FDA) chose Option 1 on the bill. Now there was two options the FDA could have chose, the first one is almost complete regulation and control of almost all tobacco and tobacco related products including pipe tobacco, cigarillos, vaping liquids, and of course premium hand rolled cigars. Option 2 would have regulated tobacco and tobacco related products, but exempt premium tobacco cigars from the statutory regulations. I use the word premium several times in this blog because it's very important that you understand I am not referring to gas station, flavored, machine-made cigarillos. This of course means more government intervention, regulations, and overall hindrance to the premium cigar and pipe tobacco industry. The regulation for premium cigars include, but not limited to...

•Establishing a federally mandated minimum of 18 years for the purchase of any tobacco product, including sales made online, and age verification made by photo ID.

• The banning of free tobacco samples.

• The requirement of products released after February 15, 2007 to be verified by the FDA before going to market.

The FDA gave this reasoning to justify option 1 on Docket No. FDA-2014-N-0189

After thorough review of the comments and the scientific evidence, FDA has concluded that deeming all cigars, rather than a subset, more completely protects the public health and therefore has adopted Option 1 in the final rule. FDA has concluded that: (1) All cigars pose serious negative health risks, (2) the available evidence does not provide a basis for FDA to conclude that the patterns of premium cigar use sufficiently reduce the health risks to warrant exclusion, and (3) premium cigars are used by youth and young adults

This, of course, is just another way for the government to put their hands in someone else's pockets and rob them blind. Since that decision several organizations including the IPCPR, CRA, and CAA have lobbied and filed lawsuits against the FDA to exempt premium cigars from the Bill as they are vastly different from incomparable products such as cigarettes, vaping products, and most store bought cigarillos. Look, I don't mind the government wanting to establish ground rules some generic regulation of an international commodity so that there is no foul play and to "protect our children". My concern is that statistically most our youth are smoking vaping products and store bought cigarillos I.e. Swisher Sweets. These are not the premium cigars that we the legal and adult community are wanting exempt from the Bill. In all honesty if your child is smoking convenience store cigarillos and vaping products, I would be more focused on the parents rather than the mischievous child.

In order to understand the premium cigar smokers' grievances you must first understand the product differences. A premium cigar is a 100 percent legal handmade product created by passionate artisans all around the globe and has exactly two ingredients: 100 percent tobacco leaf and water. It has been developed this way since 1676 in Sevilla Spain where the fist cigars were ever rolled. It even reaches back to 1492 when Columbus landed on the coast of Columbia where he was taught by the Taino Indians to raise and enjoy the relaxing effects of the tobacco leaf by the Behike during religious rituals. There are NO synthetic or artificial chemicals or materials used in the making of a premium hand rolled cigar. Cigar manufacturing and distribution employes tens of thousands of people in multiple countries, some even relying exclusively on the export revenue tobacco produces to sustain the country's viability.

Other products such as vaping, cigarettes, snuff, or store bought cigarillos use machine made materials, a variety of synthetic chemicals and flavorings, and production shortcuts to make it both affordable and appealing to the youth of today. This causes upset parents and government officials to raise their scepter and say no to all tobacco and tobacco related products. It's like failing the entire class because of one misguided student. This unfairness by our government's ignorance combines anything that is remotely related to tobacco under one umbrella. This confusion is why the cigar smoking community is fighting to enjoy premium cigars and stop government overreaching their legal boundaries.

It is our job, no our duty, to inform both our community and our local governments to pay attention to the differences and not punish those who are obeying the law with the Red Herring of those who do not. At the end of the day the government stereo typically is supposed to outweigh the needs of the many of the needs of the few, unfortunately we represent the needs of the few. That's why it's so important for everyone who want to enjoy this disappearing product to stand up and tell our government they do not have the right to take cigars away from us. It is not our governments place, local or federal, to tell us what legal products we are and are not allowed to consume at our own expense and discretion.

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