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Marvin R. Shanken

Speak Up

Posted: Apr 30, 2014 12:00am ET

This is a critical time for cigar smokers.

The Food and Drug Administration recently published rules to extend its strict control over all tobacco products—not just cigarettes—but it may yet exempt premium, hand-rolled cigars. That seems like good news for cigar smokers.

But there are some big storm clouds out there. Here at Cigar Aficionado, we define premium cigars—the ones we write about—as being made by hand, from 100 percent tobacco leaves and without any flavorings or filters. Period. No machine-made cigars—at all. The FDA largely agrees with that definition. But they put some limits on them: A true premium cigar must weigh more than six pounds per thousand, and cost more than $10. What!?

We rated 608 non-Cuban cigars in 2013. The majority of them—416 to be exact—cost less than $10, and only about 32 percent cost more than $10. In other words, under the FDA's new rule, about 70 percent of the cigars we rated last year wouldn't be considered premium cigars. That's just wrong. Even in our top 25 cigars of 2013, a list of the best cigars in the world that we rated, 12 of them came in less than $10.

We are the first to say that Cigar Aficionado focuses on the finer things in life. We do appeal to an educated, sophisticated and upscale audience. But a cigar doesn't have to break the bank. We've always called a cigar one of life's great, affordable luxuries. It doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. In fact, a cigar shouldn't be priced out of the reach of a dedicated cigar aficionado. And, $10 is simply not a good gauge.

The really good news is that you, every smoker and every reader of Cigar Aficionado, can make a difference. The FDA is inviting comments from the public. It is imperative that the cigar-smoking community speaks out to argue for a realistic definition of a premium cigar. The FDA, thanks to intense efforts by the cigar industry and this magazine, has already gotten it mostly right. But now they need to hear from you—the people on the ground who walk into tobacco shops to buy cigars—about what constitutes a reasonable policy toward this product enjoyed in moderation by adults.

Follow the link below to tell the FDA you want an exemption for premium cigars. And, let them know in no uncertain terms that a premium cigar doesn't have to cost $10 to be considered premium. The government shouldn't force you to spend $10 or more on a good $7 cigar.

The comment period ends on July 9th. The time to act is now.

Click here to submit an electronic comment to the FDA.

Comments   65 comment(s)

Christian April 30, 2014 11:04am ET

Marvin, thank you so much for the update. I just sent a thorough letter to the FDA summing up the feeling that a premium cigar is a fine hand rolled product that doesn't need a high cap price tag to be one. I stated that a YOUNG adult wouldn't even pay $4 for a single tobacco product. In addition I stressed loss of revenue in the future which would hurt states and the federal government.

Again thank you for this important piece of information and please all get involved and make your voice heard! BTW it was nice to see you last night at the Grand Tour Tasting. Wonderful event.


Michael Habersack April 30, 2014 12:37pm ET

Agree with the article and the prior post. Younger adults are not the ones purchasing premium cigars. Regulations.gov is the right place to make your voice heard and so far there are few associated posts on that site. Time to flood them with your voices.

While a $10.00 cigar isn't a bank breaker, it does keep one from trying new brands. I'll spend my money on a stick that I know I will like, and an FDA regulation will injure both the manufacturers and small businesses selling retail by keeping me from going outside of brands I know I enjoy.

mike


Jim Czerniak — Philadelphia, PA,  —  April 30, 2014 1:58pm ET

I agree with the article. Adults should be able to partake in any legal product. If they are concerned with under aged kids getting the product, just enforce the age rule. I have been a member at my local cigar lounge for over 6 years. I have never seen a minor come in and try to buy a cigar.


Frederick Amodeo — Bellport, New York, USA,  —  May 1, 2014 5:31am ET

You are absolutely correct Marvin. Already submitted response to FDA. Anyone who reads this article or from anyone of the other cigar related groups needs to submit a response to the FDA during the period allowed. As MIckey said to Rocky, "Don't let the bastard breathe"! Get to them now and as many as we can! Flood their lines with our responses.


bruce@kingmediacorp.com May 2, 2014 9:54am ET

Marvin, if you really wanted to support the US cigar businesses, you'd have named a non-cuban stick as cigar of the year. Do you know how much business that would have meant to USA retailers? Give me a break!


Steve Young — Katy, Texas, USA,  —  May 2, 2014 10:04am ET

Thanks Marvin!

If I purchase a painting by Van Gogh at a garage sale for $150, does that now mean it's not a premium/respected work of art?

I am not wealthy but I enjoy being able to find exceptional value in cigars, wine and bourbon at reasonable prices. I often purchase (premium) wine rated 90-95 for under $20.


David Reeves — Apple Valley, CA, United States,  —  May 2, 2014 10:37am ET

As an owner of a Cigar Lounge in California I am amazed at restrictions that keep coming our way and I agree completely with Marvin. A good majority of the premium cigars we sell are under $10. If FDA imposes this restriction it would greatly affect my consumer sales. My concerns will be sent to the FDA shortly.


Terry Sanders May 2, 2014 11:15am ET

As a former cigarette chain-smoker (I quit nearly 30 years ago), and as an avid cigar smoker (starting about 12 years ago), I can attest from direct experience that to consider cigarettes and cigars equal is like throwing soda and whiskey into the same category.

Whereas with cigarettes, I smoked out of need, cigars are smoked when the circumstances and desire are appropriate. During the Winter, for instance, I'll go weeks without so much a single cigar. With cigarettes, if there was a hurricane and driving hail, I'd STILL chance going outside to smoke.

Please don't punish cigar smokers for the results of cigarette smoking.


eric charles — rockville centre, New York,  —  May 2, 2014 11:29am ET

Where the hell did the come up with such an arbitrary price?


Douglas King — Aiken, SC, USA,  —  May 2, 2014 11:37am ET

I enjoy a good, hand-made cigar, once or twice a month. I am an outdoor enthusiast and find no ill effects to my health from this pursuit. On the contrary, the time spent enjoying a good cigar is meditative and rejuvenating to the spirit.

I understand the FDAs' role in health. But, I do not understand why there is a 'price point of interest' on a cigar from a health organization like the FDA? Is it to form a social deterrent to cigars? What about freedom??


Louis Ciola — Snyder, New York, USA,  —  May 2, 2014 11:38am ET

Mr.Shanken, I realize that you have magazines to sell, and Cigar Afiionado is probably the finests magazine on the market today.

However, that having been said, cigars pose a serious health risk for oral cancer as well as heart disease. David Letterman smoked 20 Cuban Cigars a day and wound up with quintuple by-passes.

Further, there is significant health risk from oral cancers posed by continued cigar smoking.

Now, the public should be aware of this and not overindulge in the product. No tobacco product is technically safe.

So, on the one hand we have all the different cigar tobaccos and technologies to choose from and on the other hand we have the well known and serious risks of oral cancer.

I'm sure it's up to the individual to decide for themselves if they want to smoke or not. Therefore, I do not think it bad if the FDA weighs in on this and tells it like it is.

Again, I know you have magazines to sell, and products to promote, but at the same time, people need to be well aware of what goes on in life from a medical point of view.


Leo L. Leal May 2, 2014 11:45am ET

Marvin, you are indeed and have always been, a gentleman and a scholar. Thanks for the input and link to express our shared concerns.


Michael Levin — Plantation, FL, USA,  —  May 2, 2014 11:52am ET

I took my 15 minutes to add my two cents. I don't want cigar prices go higher artificially to circumvent some misguided rule. Stay out of our humidors!


Rich Sherman May 2, 2014 12:14pm ET

As a premium cigar smoker who stays up to date with the cigar industry and pricing, classifying a premium cigar at a price point over $10 is insane


Ken Zitko May 2, 2014 12:24pm ET

This is more than the potential for rising cigar prices. When a government agency begins defining a price point for a product, it undermines the free enterprise system that our country has been founded on. It is the freedom to either choose to try to be paid handsomely for superior craftsmanship, or offer a premium product at a competitive price which has allowed our economic system to grow like it has. I think deciding how pricing of a product should be set or defined is outside of the scope of the FDA.


chris.king@rogers.com May 2, 2014 12:42pm ET

I think that it is ironic that Americans are allowed to carry guns but have limited access to "premium cigars." I guess we Canadians are fortunate that due to high taxes there is no such thing as a premium cigar for less than $25.00!


Mark Rymuza — Pittsburgh, PA, USA,  —  May 2, 2014 12:48pm ET

Another example of government over-reaching in to the private lives of the citizenry. Regulating cigars will have the same effect as other regulated substances. There are regulations against under age drinking, cigarette smoking, recreational drugs, fire arms and so on, yet we still see teens getting drunk or high, smoking cigarettes and shooting each other. Where regulation works is in throwing up road blocks to people who actually abide by the regulations. The shame of it all is that socialism is winning in the United States. Rather than focusing on trying to build stronger families in order to safe guard children the government tries to insert itself as the all knowing and all powerful Nanny. Thanks Marvin but unfortunately ours is an up-hill battle with little chance of success.


Rick Anderson — Edmonds, Washington, United States,  —  May 2, 2014 1:29pm ET

Thanks for alerting me about this. And thanks to the FDA for making it so easy to comment


Carlton Marcyan — Lake Forest, IL, USA,  —  May 2, 2014 2:04pm ET

With the many substantial problems or country faces because of weak leadership it is not an accident that the government keeps us diverted dealing with issues about tobacco, cigars etc.

We should deluge the Congress with our anger about further intrusion into our personal lives and habits. My god, marijuana is being legalized but the government wants to stop people from smoking cigars! This is so absurd. Let's stand up for our privacy rights and be allowed to enjoy life. We don't want a Nanny State.


robertstrippy@yahoo.com May 2, 2014 2:07pm ET

It's time to tell these people off, like this:
Nobody really cares what Congress does, including giving you the "authority" to regulate tobacco products. We can and will replace any Congress. We cigar and pipe smokers know more about tobacco than anyone in government ever will. We know our types, we know our growers, we know our manufacturers, and we know the quality of the products out there. We do not need anyone to tell us what we can and cannot do in our own homes. We are already forbidden to smoke in most public places. An exemption of "premium" cigars from intrusive regulation encourages elitism and insults the average American. We have noticed that whenever the government decides to "regulate" a product, the quality goes down and the price goes up--followed by higher taxes. We don't need that, we don't want that, and we won't stand for that. Go away and leave us alone. Go regulate something else, such as marijuana.


Lex DeCrisroforo — old saybrook, CT, USA,  —  May 2, 2014 2:10pm ET

So all the cigar companies will have to raise the price of each gar to min $10, therefore the gov makes more in tax, and prevents start ups in the cigar industry and and the consumer always gets shafted.


David Griffith — United States,  —  May 2, 2014 2:58pm ET

I realize I'm weighing in late on this, but most of what I would say has already been said (much more eloquently). But one thing I'd like to comment on is the notion that the FDA (regardless of its "mission") should be weighing in on this issue and "educating the public" as to the risks associated with this or that product, especially when the product is a cigar. I, for one, am tired of the government telling me what is and is not good for me. Most adults I know are tired of our government's paternalistic attitude towards this country's citizens. We're tired, too, of those people who, not being in government, believe government should watch out for us and warn us of this or that health risk. I'm 50 years old, and I've been smoking cigars since I was 31. Before that I smoked nothing. I, along with every other cigar smoker in this country, am well-aware of the potential for harm that comes with indulging in this passion. Just as I'm well aware that, like my mother when she was 30, I can be killed in a car accident anytime I get behind the wheel--and through no fault of mine. This nanny-state mindset that pervades government, and that is bought into by everybody else who believes we need to be protected from ourselves, has got to stop. I'd wager that more people die in car accidents every year than die from smoking cigars. But I don't hear a huge groundswell of government or public opinion calling for making it illegal to operate motor vehicles. And as one other person commented, there's a push throughout this country to legalize marijuana. Yet the government is considering further regulations on premium cigars? When will this blatant stupidity end? I have not, yet, sent my thoughts to the FDA as I want to cool down a bit before doing so. But to anybody out there who believes that our government should continue on their present trajectory--that they should continue to infantilize grown adult citizens--I ask you to stop and think carefully about what you're asking. Because as the old saying goes, be careful what you ask for as you might just get it.


Tod Campbell — Temecula, CA, USA,  —  May 2, 2014 3:03pm ET

Louis Ciola's comments above from May 2nd, 11:38 were polite, but missing the point in some ways. The average cigar smoker does not smoke 20 cigars a day, and if they did...that would likely be their choice. Unlike cigarets smokers, cigar aficionados are not typically addicted to cigars; it is not a compulsion; it's something that can be put aside for a few days, weeks, months, or even years. If you are a cigar smoker you will understand this point. This makes cigar smoking a hobby and lifestyle that among other things promotes healthy conversation and comradery! This point should not be taken lightly...because many cigar enthusiast enjoy a better life due to cigars and the lifestyle. When if ever have you seen a cigar lover jonsing for a smoke during a coffee break? Eating fatty foods and soda can cause risks when not done in moderation. Riding a motorcycle or even crossing the street posses some level of risk. Everything in life has some level of inherent risk...and cigar smokers understand this. Based on my research, cigar smoking presents some risks...that is true, but should not be put in the same category as cigarettes! We are all adults, and the issue I have with the FDA and other organizations is painting everything with broad strokes. At the end of the day, taxing cigars and making it more difficult for people to be in business to sell and promote cigars is a shame in my opinion and simply adds another level of government controls that need not exist.


chasmcneilly@sbcglobal.net May 2, 2014 3:10pm ET

Thanks for the email Marvin. I have taken the time to express my feelings regarding premium cigars to the FDA. Thanks for providing the link. And Carlton summed it up when stating that marijuana has been legalized in two states, and DOJ will not prosecute ther offenders, yet the government wants to regulate cigars. And I agree with the others here that this is just another example of big government messing with our lives. GO SPURS!


Walter Bayer — The Valley, AI-2640 Anguilla ,  —  May 2, 2014 3:12pm ET

I sent my comment to FDA, registering my opposition to the $10 price point, and I had to add a paragraph:
"I sincerely hope that the $10.00 price point was not selected with the object and purpose of manipulating the market price to reduce sales of premium cigars, and making premium cigars a product only for the affluent consumer. Surely this is not intended."
Surely!


Nruocco@falesca.com May 2, 2014 3:42pm ET

I like to smoke a cigar maeby two times
A month Nothing wrong with that

Moderation Is the key

Like anything else we do in life

I thing allow smoking cigars it ok No restrictions
Note


David Bassler — The Woodlands, TX, US,  —  May 2, 2014 3:56pm ET

If they pass pointless regulations, isn't that just going to create a huge black market? After all, it's not that hard to get Cubans... when people truly want something, they will find a way to get it. I for one will continue to smoke the cigars I want, FDA or no FDA.


EARL HAMMONS — GLASGOW, KENTUCKY, UNITED STATES,  —  May 2, 2014 4:19pm ET

Marvin,

My pleasure joining fellow cigar smokers like yourself addressing a desire for less regulation or at least reasonable regulation.

Earl Hammons - Glasgow Kentucky


Dixon Judd — Walnut Creek, CA, US,  —  May 2, 2014 4:31pm ET

Thank you for your consideration in this important area of personal and community tradition. If you are not a Cigar Smoker then it may not be apparent that this is more than just a health or revenue initiative. There exists a very unique and strong bond between cigar smokers, the retailers that foster an intimate relationship and the overall opportunity to be a part of the cigar enjoying public.

Like many things in the world today, price is not the best indicator of value or quality. With cigars , the true insiders prefer, demand and respect those who have many years of experience in growing , cultivating and Hand Rolling a Fine Cigars. When taking into consideration the overall process, remote locations and fierce pride and competition of the manufacturers,
one gains an understanding that this is not just another industry . In order to gain a following a cigar must have the quality ingredients of fine cigar tobacco, excellent construction and flavor pallet. The one thing that is not paramount is the consumers price point. Over 80% of the fine cigars retail for less than $10.00 per cigar. This makes this a low profit margin business for all the professionals involved. Please do not disrupt the delicate balance that exists today in the free market by mandating a certain price to be considered a Fine Luxury Cigar.

Warmest regards,


Marshall Kuehl May 2, 2014 4:34pm ET

As a senior, good cigars are one of my remaining joys. Here in Hawaii the city government, which controls all the beaches and parks, no longer allows smoking taking away one of my retiremnt benefits of watching sunsets from the beach. I hope the FDA doesn't add to the the limitations.


Tod Campbell — Temecula, CA, USA,  —  May 2, 2014 4:34pm ET

The price of a cigar should never dictate whether a cigar is "PREMIUM". I love fine cigars, some of my favorites are under $2.50 a stick; some cost over $20.00. Marvin's point is well taken; a premium cigar is one that is handmade and filled with tobacco.


David Graves — Lexington, Ky, USA,  —  May 2, 2014 5:12pm ET

More government intrusion into more personal aspects of our lives. The FDA doesn't even understand the product it seeks to regulate nor does it care about the destruction of private business and freedom. My local premium cigar retailer believes that the day is coming that it will be illegal to sell cigars but that he may well be able to sell dope.


Rich Seeley — Utica, NY, USA,  —  May 2, 2014 5:53pm ET

I borrowed from Ken Zitko on some of this comment to the FSA. Thanks Ken! :)

More government intrusion. Imagine that. Is it really for the health of Americans or a way to siphon more money off of an industry?

Why are you messing with a product (hand rolled cigars) that contains no fillers, is typically not even inhaled, and is made from all natural products? If people don't want to smoke that's fine, but don't try to regulate us that enjoy a fine cigar to the point of choking off supply and making it cost prohibitive. I believe a case could be made for discrimination against those with lower incomes if you start placing price limits on products. Will cigars only be for the wealthy to enjoy? In the time of an administration that shouts income equality for all, you are actually considering telling people what that income can't buy? Actually there is no surprise there. In a time when the economy is sluggish and not recovering, you are going to severely handicap a whole industry? We need a leaner government that doesn't intrude on every aspect of our lives. We need a government that doesn't regulate businesses or industries to the point where small business goes extinct while huge conglomerates will be the only entities that can compete in our economy.

This is more than the potential for rising cigar prices. When a government agency begins defining a price point for a product, it undermines the free enterprise system that our country has been founded on. It is the freedom to either choose to try to be paid handsomely for superior craftsmanship, or offer a premium product at a competitive price which has allowed our economic system to grow like it has. I think deciding how pricing of a product should be set or defined is outside of the scope of the FDA.


LARRY TEPPER — VALLEY VILLAGE, CA, USA,  —  May 2, 2014 6:32pm ET

So it's come to this. Sad. But the solution is simple: All hand-made cigars will now carry an MSRP of $10 or more, and be graciously offered --wholesale and retail-- with discounts in the 80-85% range. Many cigars are currently being sold like that on popular websites, so there is a traditional precedent already in place. The FDA is not stupid, well, not entirely stupid, but what people fail to realize is that the FDA operates out of the back pocket of Big Pharma, an entity that dedicates itself to selling boatloads of really dangerous psychiatrist-prescribed substances like Prozac, Zoloft, Xanax et al. You know, I have never experienced "suicidal ideation" --or homicidal thoughts for that matter either-- when I've been relaxing, kicking back anxiety-free, with a good cigar, even a cheap one. Rush would say, "Follow the Money." I say: Keep your friends close and... write a nice little letter to the FDA.


Wayne"Violator" Mabry — Moreno Valley, California,  —  May 2, 2014 6:41pm ET

Wayne Mabry:I just submitted my views to the FDA on their tobacco laws.Smoking a premium cigar is one of the few simple pleasures we Americans have left, so to put strick regulations on premium cigars not only hurts revenue for the economy but seems to infringe on our freedom of choice.Most of us are responsible adults, and the younger consumer won't spend $10.00 for one tobacco product so why punish the consumers of premium cigars.Are we returning to PROHIBITION? Enough already!


Mark Bentley — Burien, WA, USA,  —  May 2, 2014 6:42pm ET

Message to the government:

There is no way that a 'premium cigar' should mandatorily cost $10.00 or more. Ridiculous. Many if not most of my cigars are under that amount and most would be considered 'premium' hand rolled cigars. By setting the price that high you are creating an underclass by moving affordably ranged cigars out of reach for many individuals and biasing availability to the wealthy.

If you are going to argue for the safety of minors, I say, that should be up to education programs, parents and enforcement of laws already on the books that ban children and young adults from the purchase of tobacco, spirits.

As an adult and a free citizen of the United States I view the choices that I make, for myself, to partake of legal products as part of my constitutional rights in pursuit of my own happiness.

Enough with the 'nanny government'!


Walter MacBride — Houston, TX, USA,  —  May 2, 2014 7:52pm ET

In my line of work as a service technician I work in all kinds of neighborhoods in and around Houston. I've noticed the convenience stores and gas stations have no morals when it comes to selling tobacco. They'll sell single cigarettes and swisher sweets to high school kids, never check an ID, never bat an eye. Premium tobacconists are more responsible. I'm 28 and I was carded the first time I visited my tobacconist, simply because he didn't know me; after that it was smooth sailing. And never have I seen anybody under 18 even go into the store.

I told the FDA that premium is not determined by price and by weight per unit. Premium cigars are hand-made with high-quality tobacco and craftsmanship. The price and weight per unit is reflected in the size of the cigar. A Gran Corona is bigger than a Rothschild, therefore it uses more tobacco, as a result it weighs more and costs more. A figurado costs more because it is more difficult and more time consuming to make. Is a BMW not a premium automobile because is costs less than a Lambo?

What the FDA needs to do is provide the facts regarding tobacco use, enforce the current laws regarding sale to minors, and allow adults to make their own decisions with their own bodies.

As consumers we need to be responsible and keep the tobacco we buy away from minors.


ANGELO Ocasio — MIRA LOMA, CA, UNITED STATES,  —  May 2, 2014 8:12pm ET

Here is what I posted on the Govt.regulation page:

Premium cigars are just that, premium. Price many times can be very decieving. E.G. a Lexus and a Bentley, they are both premium vehicles but a vast difference in price. I may purchase a $4.00 premium cigar that is as good and sometimes better than a $10 - $20 cigar.

Premium cigars are enjoyed by those who know and can appreciate that it is a handmade consumable product with no additives except the loving care in growing, aging, rolling and packaging for me to purchase They are for a clientele who desires that which cannot be measured by someone other than the person who is partaking in it, "JOY".

Please consider that youth not only does not have the means but also does not have the desire to purchase preimium cigars because they have not developed a palate or appreciation yet for the finer things in life. Maturity is not like common sense, which by the way not everyone has, it takes time and experience. With time comes experience to expand your horizon and the ability to make choices.

Please do not be clouded by the few, who believe the many should be legislated by those who do not believe in freedom of choice.


thebosscigars May 2, 2014 9:20pm ET

Thank you Marvin,
I like the title of your Article - Speak Up! IT'S WHAT ALL CIGAR SMOKERS NEED TO DO to save our cigar industry's ash!
I really appreciate your getting this to the cigar store owners. I made my comment and I will share this with all of my customers so that can comment as well. They need to understand that if they do their part then we'll all be able to continue smoking our valuable stogies!


Tom Hiser May 2, 2014 11:08pm ET

Thank you for the great article. It was spot on. I have sent a comment to the FDA. All cigar smokers should follow suit and send a comment to the FDA. Thanks again.


Wilhelmus Polman May 3, 2014 6:29am ET

WIM POLMAN

DEAR MARVIN AND FRIENDS OF PREMIUM CIGARS
AGREE THAT THE EXEMPT OF NEW REGULATION PER 10 USD PER HANDROLLED PREMIUM CIGAR IS ELITIST AND SMELLS AS AN CARTEL AGREEMENT WITH A FEW COMPANIES BEHIND CLOSED DOORS BUT MORE SO IT ESTABLISHES A TRADE BARRIER FOR STARTING SMALL SCALE EXPORTERS OF PERUVIAN PREMIUM HANDROLLED CIGARS AGAINST FRAMEWORK OF EXISTING FREE TRADE AGREEMENT USA-PERU


Kevin Rothstein May 3, 2014 8:27am ET

As a proud liberal, as well as the younger brother of a free-lance writer who has written numerous articles for CA, I am appalled by the FDA decision on premium cigars.

Setting an arbitrary $10 price for the definition of what constitutes a premium cigar is elitist and discriminatory against the middle class.

So a wealthy Wall Street hedge fund swindler gets to smoke his expensive cigars while a regular citizen gets screwed again?

The proposed legislation reminds me of the "carried interest" tax loophole, where hedge fund income gets taxed at preferred capital gains rates.

I just purchased a box of 25 Gispert cigars online from Famous-Smoke shop for $72.00, with a free shipping coupon and an extra Partagas cigar thrown in.

This is insane. I am going to speak-up and not let this attack on my civil rights happen.


Andy Vanman May 3, 2014 9:34am ET

What does a specific price tag of $10 have to do with a cigar being a premium product? That would be like ruling that a fine, hand-crafted meal at an upscale restaurant can't be categorized as "gourmet" unless the diner spends more than $100. It's not about the price tag per say, but rather the ingredients, process, commitment, market, etc.


float dub May 3, 2014 12:19pm ET

Louis Ciola and his ilk are exactly representative of what we're up against. Polite and with others' best interest at heart, but utterly ignorant of the facts. Citing an extreme and most likely untrue or distorted factoid and applying to it everyone to demonstrate some sort of concern is ludicrous. And frankly, these busybodies are best left to mind their own business. If others choose to smoke, drink alcohol, have a high fat diet, ride motorcycles or otherwise engage in activities that pose a danger to themselves, then so be it.


Daniel Smoak — Lexington, SC, USA,  —  May 3, 2014 4:22pm ET

I read the FDA’s proposed rule. Everything mentioned here in this forum falls under OPTION 2: RESTRICT RULE TO COVERED CIGARS (which still leaves the definition of a “premium cigar” under debate and open to recommendation).
There is a whole other side to the FDA’s proposition: OPTION 1: DO NOT RESTRICT CATEGORIES OF CIGARS. It states that whether or not the cigar is small, medium, large, premium, or etc. it will fall under the new rule and be subject to the same regulations as any other cigar.

As far as I can tell throughout the narrative of the FDA’s proposal, this movement is an effort to educate and prevent young adults from smoking by having the same warning labels and advertisements emplaced on all cigars (except for premium, as mentioned in option 1). My basis on this assessment of their intentions is direct from their proposal: “a recent analysis of cigar use by young adults (aged 18 to 29) was presented at the meeting of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco providing preliminary confirmation that young adults do use premium cigars. This analysis was derived from data from the National Adult Tobacco Survey, a nationally representative survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The analysis shows that the percentage of young adults reporting current premium cigar use (15.1 percent) was just as high as the percent reporting current use of little filtered cigars (11.9 percent) (Ref. 34). Although the patterns of use may be quite different, this analysis shows that current premium cigar use is being reported by young adults and that such use is not restricted to older adults. In addition, among all young adults aged 18 to 29, 2.5 percent reported current use of premium cigars, compared with 1.7 percent among those aged 30 to 44, 1.2 percent among those aged 45 to 64, and 0.4 percent among those aged 65 and over (id.).” - Deeming Tobacco Products To Be Subject to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as Amended by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act; Regulations on the Sale and Distribution of Tobacco Products and Required Warning Statements for Tobacco Products

If you are fine with your premium cigar coming with a sticker on it saying that “smoking may cause anal seepage, erectile dysfunction, or other random physical anomaly that professionals like to attribute to smoking” then this whole debate is of no consequence if Option 1 is upheld because every cigar and cigar container will be required to display a warning. However, if Option 2 is upheld then everyone’s concerns of a $7 cigar suddenly costing $10+ may become a true realization.

My take from this entire movement from the FDA is that they are simply deciding whether to make it so that a premium cigar(no warning label) is out of the price reach of the younger generation (Option 2), or label all cigars accordingly because the younger generation will buy cigars regardless of price (Option 1).


Bill Loveless — Puyallup, WA, USA,  —  May 3, 2014 4:27pm ET

Hello
Just sent my nastygram off to the feds.
I dont think it will do any good but maybe thats just me.
I said in a nut shell that they should stay out of my cigar businees and get into business like pharmicutical pricing and federal marijuana law ( I live in Washington state where it is "legal ? ) where they belong. The cigarette and cigar industry should be kept separate because of the way they are smoked period!
I try to spend about $3 to $4 on my favorite cigars online taking advantage of the specials where i can and on the same cigars I spend about double that retail to support the local establishments I frequent.
My choice !!! And I am ok doing what I do !
$ 10 does not make a cigar premium.
The fact that it is hand rolled by a fine cigar manufacture does!
Tell them to stay out of our business and get their heads into businesses that they need to be in.
WE VOTE ! DONT MESS WITH US!!


Bud Raymond May 3, 2014 5:47pm ET

Comment submitted. Hopefully there is strength in numbers.


Loren Grummons — Bellaire, Texas, USA,  —  May 3, 2014 6:44pm ET

Your Comment Tracking Number: 1jy-8bvy-91zo

Short version of my comment is the fda should go pound sand.


Preston Weiters Jr. — Jersey City, NJ, US,  —  May 3, 2014 10:48pm ET

5.3.14, After clicking the link to FDA it starts out like applying for a passport, or something. I don't trust it.

Not much to say that hasn't been said already; I don't trust either fed, state or local gov't to regulate in my favor no matter what the issue, smoking or otherwise.

I'm sure, like everything else the gov't eavesdrops on, it's watching this, too. so forget the 'reg.gov' link & keep your hands off my $130/box, 6x50 Nat Shermans. I just hate BO&Co. I really do.


ransom Place May 4, 2014 8:18am ET

Cigar aficionados don’t need the advice of anti-cigar propagandists like Louis Ciola (see his comments above) that we “…need to be well aware of what goes on in life from a medical point of view.” Cigar smokers already know of the health benefits cigars provide. Ciola, and propagandists like him, should be as well informed.

Ciola writes that David Letterman wound up with quintuple bypasses due to his daily cigar intake. Says who? Where is the evidence cigars caused the entertainer to have bypasses? Non-smokers also have quintuple bypasses cancers of all kinds, along with heart diseases.

In fact, cigars might have saved Letterman’s life. Studies show positive effects of moderate smoking on heart disease. Dr. Christopher Heeschen of Stanford University discovered nicotine promotes new blood vessel growth. His treatment is being used worldwide in the treatment of blocked heart arteries.

Instead of regurgitating unwanted anti-smoking propaganda upon cigar aficionados, anti-smoking misanthrope’s need to focus on their own needs and make their own choices instead of trying to tell others what’s for their own good.


Thomas Person — louisville, KY, USA,  —  May 5, 2014 12:59pm ET

Well said sir. Let us get the word out to our fellow BOTL and SOTL about speaking up and being heard by the FDA and everyone else in Washington, D.C.


LES MANN — East Providence, Rhode Island, UNITED STATES,  —  May 7, 2014 9:44am ET

When Marvin talks, people listen! Where would this industry be without Marvin and without Cigar Aficionado???!!!


Andy May 7, 2014 10:19am ET

I've been submitting an original comment against the $10 price every day and will do so until the comment window is closed. I encourage all to do the same. Make it a habit with the morning coffee.


Menelaos Menelaou — Lakatamia, Lefkosia, Cyprus,  —  May 7, 2014 4:26pm ET

All these have to do nothing with common sense.
It s all about money and take advantage on a people s hobby.
Rest of it is just excuses. If nobody smokes they find other ways to take the money. Freedom? There i no such a thing. Air belongs to goverments, so lets tax it.


Daniel Gallardo — fontana, California, United States,  —  May 8, 2014 1:25am ET

Thank you Marvin for the article and the heads up, I just sent my comment to the FDA, I really hope that we pull through with this and they stop messing with us.


Chris Hall — Mahomet, Illinois, USA,  —  May 9, 2014 9:59am ET

I work for a cigar retailer and would like to add that age rules do work in keeping premium cigars out of the hands of the underage. Our system is set up to ask for age verification from all transactions at the cash terminals. That being said I won't even so much as cut a cigar for someone unless I know they are old enough to pay for it. It's that simple.


Eric Thompson May 9, 2014 10:39am ET

We don't need no stinking government telling us what to smoke. Keep your laws off our smokes.


Michael Brady — Richmond, Virginia, United States,  —  May 12, 2014 10:00am ET

They're trying to make criminals of us all.

The FDA shoud consider, per Kipling:
IF you wake at midnight, and hear a horse's feet,
Don't go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street,
Them that ask no questions isn't told a lie.
Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by.


Phillip Butler — Timonium, MD, US,  —  May 13, 2014 4:17pm ET

I've submitted my comments to the FDA. Everyone who loves premium cigars must.


Glynn Loope — Blue Ridge, VA, United States,  —  May 14, 2014 3:18pm ET

Many thanks for raising the level of awareness to this unprecedented threat to the premium cigar industry, with proposed regulations that adversely impact the consumer, retail tobacconist and manufacturers alike. Your readers can go to the Cigar Rights of America web site for access to suggested speaking points and themes to be addressed for posting their opposition with the FDA. It is essential that everyone that is passionate for great cigars, engage in this process.

http://cigarrights.org/fda-response.php


Gary G. — Southern California,  —  May 17, 2014 11:56am ET

I hope all that enjoy cigars and responded here, saying FDA involvement with tobacco, especially cigars is wrong, also posted a letter to the FDA. We need to make our accumulative voices known. Assuming there will be enough responses, so why bother, is not only a wrong, it ensures laws are enacted against the wishes of "We The People".


Prnorton1@att.net May 18, 2014 10:22pm ET

Thanks for the link, Marvin. I sent my comments and hope there is strength in numbers. We need to stick together on this one.


Jeff Pierce June 16, 2014 5:39am ET

A premium cigar definition should be any totally hand rolled cigar with long filler(whole leaf tobacco). There are many great premium cigars that are under $10 and are not judged by their weight. Please don't limit premium cigars to those only $10 or above. There are great cigars in the $5-$10 range that are totally handrolled long filler premium cigars. thank you for taking time to read this and consider my opinion.

posted to FDA


Michael Taylor — Houston, Texas, USA ,  —  June 17, 2014 12:31pm ET

Comments submitted to FDA as well as my US Congressman and both US Senators.


Preston Weiters Jr. — Jersey City, NJ, US,  —  December 15, 2014 11:16pm ET

12/15/14, My standard fave is Nat Sherman, 25ct; apx $125/bx or $5.each: University 6x50, blue label. Why should I care if they're considered premium or not so long as I want them? Price is highly subjective on these products; you don't always get what you pay for regardless of price. I've had some $12. Davidoffs that were absolutely mundane for the money. So get what you like, experiment w/samples, you'll find some excellent stogies that won't break the bank.



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