Cigar news you can use: Make the FDA squrim

Cigar news:

Here are some essential ways your voice as a cigar smoker and taxpayer can be heard in the hallowed halls of Congress and the regressive halls of the FDA.

Don’t stop pressuring the FDA minions thinking the battle is lost or not worth fighting for. Contact the FDA and your US House and Senate representative and give them your two cents.

Keep smoking

 

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June 01, 2018
 The Smoke Is Blowing In A Different Direction
By Glynn Loope, Executive Director CRA, and Cody Carden, Director of Communications CRA
Over the course of the last four sessions of Congress, a message has been told, coalitions have been built, and allies have been recruited all in an effort to protect the simple enjoyment of a great cigar.
You would think this would be an easy task.  After all, it is about solitude and camaraderie among friends who are essentially enjoying a product that is a creation of nature – assembled by skilled artisan hands.
However, as we all know there have been and always will be forces at work, whether it be the nanny state or political opposition wanting to interfere with not only your enjoyment of that cigar, but wanting to cause economic havoc on small businesses across America and instability throughout the cigar producing nations of Latin America.
The tide, however, is turning.  Through a concerted strategy with our industry allies we now have new opportunities to not only tell our story, but to obtain tangible relief from the bureaucratic malaise that plagues Washington, DC.
It all essentially began on September 14, 2017, when for the first time the U.S. House of Representatives adopted budget language for a premium cigar exemption from burdensome regulations as proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”). That moment, was the culmination of not only the current 143 Members of Congress that are supporters and sponsors of such language, but also the result of the over 289 existing and former Members of Congress that have helped carry that message.
Then as we entered the new year, one of the most significant moments in the history of our fight, occurred on February 27, 2018, when Carlito Fuente, Jorge Padron, Robert Levin, and Rocky Patel representing Cigar Rights of America, and Greg Zimmerman of Pennsylvania and Craig Cass of North Carolina representing the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association, made an unprecedented presentation to the new FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb and his staff, on the true nature of the premium cigar industry.  In the presentation, these industry leaders explained why the current regulations are unfair, why they are overly burdensome, and why the FDA’s entire approach far surpasses the congressional intent of the tobacco control act.
To take our message to a national audience, on March 19, 2018, Rocky Patel, on behalf of Cigar Rights of America appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight on Fox News Channel.  In the course of just a little over five minutes, Patel was able to capture our arguments and plead for our relief a seven digit television audience, in a segment that now has over 312,000 online views. This appearance was a unique moment in the effort to protect the premium cigar industry.
Clearly, the message from February 27th presentation on the impact of these regulations to the Trump Administration, did not fall on deaf ears.  On March 23, 2018, consistent with a promise made by FDA Commissioner Gottlieb on July 28, 2017, FDA published what is known as an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“ANPRM”) exclusively on the questions surrounding premium handmade cigars.  This opportunity to tell our story, while not being placed in the mix with other tobacco products, is a moment to truly differentiate the uniqueness of premium handmade cigars from other tobacco products.  And, while the various premium cigar trade associations are developing their technical comments to FDA, you too will have an opportunity to tell FDA why their approach needs to change.
Within the same week of the ANPRM release, on March 28th, CRA and IPCPR joined yet again for a presentation to the Trump Administration.  Bill Paley, owner of La Palina Cigars, and John Anderson, owner of W. Curtis Draper Tobacconist of Washington, DC, made a presentation to the White House Domestic Policy Council, which is charged with regulatory input on matters of national economic significance, and will play a key role in fulfilling the Trump Administration’s highlighted commitment in the Unified Regulatory Agenda to address the premium cigar regulatory question.
Despite the significant action in 2018 with the Executive Branch, Capitol Hill has still been a focus. Early this year, the House Freedom Caucus, as a coalition of “limited government representatives,” included a regulatory exemption for premium cigars in their annual agenda…this is coupled with the decision by the Trump Administration, through the FDA, to grant a three-year reprieve from many of the burdensome substantial equivalence requirements for premium cigars.
While it is easy for any of us to be concerned about the “ways of Washington,” these days…especially with the very public dysfunction of congress and constant state of partisan bickering, we can at least look to these tangible steps of momentum that have been made possible by the recognition that the regulatory state has gone too far.
We have said on numerous occasions, in this column, that this is a three-front war taking place at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, and a courthouse in between.  But it is only through your voice, to your members of the House and Senate that this critical juncture has been made possible.  For the first time in history, nearly a half million Cigar Voters have let their voices be heard through petition campaigns to Congress and two presidents.
While we often understand the frustration with constantly having to reinforce this message to politicians that you may or may not believe to be listening, we can say beyond any doubt that your commitment to this process has made a difference.  However, I am afraid we have to say, welcome to the new normal.
Whether it is objecting to federal regulations of historic proportions, a statewide smoking ban that could destroy your favorite shops and lounges, or a tax proposal by your local city council, it is now more important than ever that you make your commitment as a cigar voter a permanent part of your enjoyment of a premium handmade cigar.
Senator Ernst Co-Sponsors S. 294
 
Chad Airhart & Senator Joni Ernst
On May 09, 2018, Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) became the 21st member of the United States Senate to co-sponsor S. 294.
CRA would like to thank and acknowledge Chad Airhart, the Dallas County Iowa Recorder, and owner of Iowa Cigar Company, for his work in helping to secure Senator Ernst’s support for S. 294.
For more information on S. 294, please click here.
Write The FDA And Help Save Premium Cigars
By Marvin Shanken
 Editor In Chief And Publisher
Cigar Aficionado 
 
Few things in life give me as much pleasure as handmade, premium cigars. They help organize my thoughts, they allow me to reflect and they relax me. As a reader of Cigar Aficionado, and a visitor to
CigarAficionado.com, I bet you feel the same way. That’s why I’m reaching out to you with a very important personal request.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has enacted serious and onerous restrictions on the premium cigar industry. Some of these restrictions have already gone into effect-the ability to create new products, for example, is now shackled with prohibitions-and many more are scheduled to follow very soon. All of these restrictions threaten the very industry itself, and must be stopped.
The FDA recently opened a comment period, inviting the public to weigh in on the issue. They have said they are willing to listen, so it’s imperative that we all tell the FDA that premium cigars deserve exemption from these regulations.
The FDA needs to know that premium cigars are not at all like cigarettes or machine-made cigars. They are made by hand, contain only natural products, and are smoked by adults. They don’t need to be regulated. There aren’t many companies that make them, and it’s a small industry, with many family-owned companies crafting artisanal products in a manner that hasn’t changed in decades.
Here is the link for comment. We have crafted a sample message for you to see. Feel free to use our letter below, or to make one of your own design.
Don’t wait. The time to do this is now. Write the FDA and help save the premium cigar industry.
Submit your comment to the FDA here:
SAMPLE LETTER
Dear Sir or Madam:
As an adult who chooses to enjoy premium cigars, I am writing to share my thoughts on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recent Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that was published on March 26 of this year pertaining to premium cigars.
It is my understanding that in order to assist in its evaluation of the regulation of premium cigars, FDA is seeking comments and other information that may have developed since the final rule was issued.
As a premium cigar consumer, I have closely followed what FDA has done since it announced its Final Rule regarding premium cigars in 2016.  I continue to believe that premium cigars are a unique product, very different from the cigarettes and smokeless tobacco that Congress actually instructed FDA to regulate.  FDA’s actions in regulating premium cigars demonstrate that the agency has attempted a “one size fits all” approach to regulation. But premium cigars do not present the health, addiction and youth access issues associated with other tobacco products. FDA should respect those differences, rather than lumping premium cigars into the same group as cigarettes and cheap, candy-flavored cigarette substitutes.
A premium cigar is made by skilled artisans, using all-natural tobacco. It has no additives, using only aged tobacco, water and some vegetable gum. It doesn’t have filters or tips, and comes in artistic and ornate packaging that shouldn’t be marred by glaring warning labels.
I agree that recent studies should lead FDA to reconsider its overreaching rules on premium cigars. Data from the 2013 National Adult Tobacco Survey, the 2013-2014 Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health study, and the National Longitudinal Mortality Study from 1973-2011, show that very few youths use premium cigars and that the typical premium cigar consumer faces no statistically significant elevated health risks. The findings have been confirmed in peer reviewed articles in the New England Journal of Medicine and Journal of the American Medical Association. This new and rigorous research alone should cause the agency to reevaluate the harshness of the final rule.
No one said it better than the head of the FDA himself, Dr. Scott Gottlieb. In an April 2012 op-ed published before he became Commissioner, Dr. Gottlieb wrote, “Whatever the FDA does, the fight [to regulate cigars] reveals a broader trend of expanding the scope of regulation to cover areas never envisioned by Congress.” Dr. Gottlieb noted the agency does not have to regulate premium cigars simply because they contain tobacco: “The agency could argue that the premium cigars fall within its jurisdiction as a “tobacco product” but that, for now, it will exercise discretion and not regulate the high end smokes.”
I couldn’t agree more.
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