U.S. Representative Kathy Castor, D-Florida, is fighting to get premium cigars back in the hands of American troops. According to Rep. Castor, the FDA's new tobacco rules prohibit cigar companies from donating cigars to U.S. soldiers. Castor is strongly against this ban, and yesterday filed H.R. 5955, a bill that would once again allow for the charitable contribution of premium cigars to U.S. soldiers serving the country around the globe.
"Charitable contributions of traditional, premium cigars to members of the U.S. Armed Forces—a time-honored tradition that dates back to World War 1—were recently swept up and disallowed in the Food and Drug Administration's regulation of a broad range of tobacco products," Castor said in a statement. "I strongly disagree with the FDA's ban on premium cigars as charitable gifts to our troops and as donations to nonprofit organizations that in turn use these donations to support our troops."
The bill Castor is introducing is called the Restore Charitable Contributions of Premium Cigars to the Troops Act.
"In absence of a broader exemption of premium cigars, Congress must act to support our troops and the nonprofit organizations that support them," Castor said. "The FDA's regulation of individually rolled, premium cigars in general is unreasonable and has led to unintentional, but very real consequences, like halting one of the most popular charitable donations to our troops."
Storm Boen, chairman of the nonprofit organization Cigars for Warriors, estimates that premium cigars are the number one most requested item for deployed men and women of the U.S. Armed forces.
"Every month we ship out an average of 25,000 premium cigars and 100 percent of those are requested," Boen said.
Since the FDA's cigar regulations went into effect, Boen says that many manufacturers and retailers have stopped donating cigars to his organization, fearing legal recourse from the FDA. The mission of Boen's nonprofit, as well as many other similar organizations, is to get premium cigars to U.S. troops deployed around the globe.