Over the past few months we have seen a paradigm shift in US vs FDA standoff’s. We have seen over a dozen states increase there smoking age from 18 up to 21 and FDA lobbyinsts fighting to add larger warning labels on boxes and individual cigars. The FDA has tried to impose exorbitant fees and increased costs to local cigar shops and businesses. All of this in the name of making our world a better place and hindering youth from purchasing tobacco products. However, there might be some good news ahead as counter cigar lobbyists sush as the CRA, CAA, and IPCPR have fought the FDA every step of the way. Local cities and various states have counter sued the FDA to ease up regulations and cease there agenda of discouraging labels on tobacco products.
You see, cigar smokers know that premium cigars are not the same as cigarettes and e-cigs in that there are no artificial chemical additives and therefore should not follow under the umbrella of “all tobacco products”. It has been an uphill battle trying to convince congress and the FDA that premium handrolled and machine made cigars are all natural and are not designed to appeal to youth. Premium cigars are made from 100 percent tobacco and cost more than what the majority of the youth are looking to pay. The FDA itself, by it’s own study and admission, state that most youth under 18 are not in the market for premium cigars. An article submitted by Cigar Aficionado states “ a study published by The New England Journal of Medicine and partially funded by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration shows that children in America are not smoking handmade cigars.The study analyzed the tobacco use of 13,651 children, ranging in age from 12 to 17 years, and the data shows that only 2.3 percent had ever smoked a traditional cigar, and less than 1 percent (0.7 percent) had tried one within the past 30 days of being surveyed.”
The FDA is trying every angle it can to deconstruct the cigar industry one piece at a time, and the cigar industry has had enough! Last month a host of about 30 people representing the cigar industry fought in the U.S. Disrict Court with Judge Amit Mehta of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia hear both sides of the case, called Cigar Association of America, et al. v. United States Food and Drug Administration. Two lawyers, Michael Edney and Mark Raffman, argued in court regarding the ruling of the FDA to put larger warning labels on cigar boxes to deter customers from buying them. Edney argued that these invasive warning labels place an “unconstitutional restriction on commercial speech” and “the FDA provided no evidence that larger warning labels will abate cigar use”.
Thankfully our industry is fighting back harder than ever and I think the U.S. District Courts are realizing that the FDA is all “smoke and mirrors” as it were. Their imposing regulations, warning labels, and fees do nothing but discourage small businesses and provide no real benefit to consumers. Everyone is sick and tired of overbearing government intervention and needs to focus on larger issues than premium cigars. I think there is hope on the horizon and someday we will have our industry back.