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The Long Road Back

Marvin R. Shanken, Gordon Mott
From the Print Edition:
The Brains Behind Homeland, May/June 2012

We checked out the Cigar Rights of America website in mid-March. More than 172,000 cigar lovers have signed a petition in support of H.R. 1639, a bill that would exempt premium, hand-rolled cigars from Food and Drug Administration oversight. If you don’t think those 172,000 have had an impact, think again. More than 160 congressmen and seven Senators have signed on to support the bill, which is called the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2011.

But that’s not enough support to guarantee passage in the U.S. Congress. And, it is important that this bill get passed during this session of Congress, otherwise, the process has to begin all over again in 2013. Go to the Cigar Rights of America website, cigarrights.org, and read about the bill and what you can do about it. You should also check whether the congressman from your district has joined in support of this bill, and then you can direct a specific message toward your local representative.

By the way, this bill has won bipartisan support, which today in Washington seems to be rare. The bill’s sponsor is Rep. Bill Posey, R-Florida and he has been joined by representatives as diverse as Rep. Federica Wilson, D-Florida and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California.

The Senate version of the bill was sponsored by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, and he’s been joined so far by Republican Senators like Marco Rubio, R-Florida, and Lindsay Graham, R-South Carolina.

We won’t bore you with all the details of the bill, but suffice it to say that if cigars are not exempted from FDA regulation, cigar-smoking and all the wonderful events and products that are part of our cigar universe, won’t be the same in the future.
You can make a difference.

The CRA has made it very easy. You go to their website and simply hit the Take Action button at the bottom of the page. You’ll be taken to a place where you can address that message to your congressman. If just a fraction of Cigar Aficionado’s 1.9 million readers take the time to register their support, we’ll blow right through the 200,000 level of petition signers, and maybe get those last 60 or so congressmen on board for this bill to ensure its passage.

For years, we have urged the creation of a consumer, grassroots organization to argue the cigar smoker’s case. That day is here. The organization has been working hard to create a national infrastructure and present a unified voice against the anti-cigar forces. CRA is providing you, the cigar smoker, with the means to make yourself heard.

Go there and sign the petition. Look at it as a small step. But if we band together and make our voices heard, we will be on the long road back to where cigar smoking has a place in America.

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