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Legislation

Editors' Note: Cigars for the Troops

By David Savona , Marvin R. Shanken | From Kurt Russell, July/August 2019
Editors' Note: Cigars for the Troops
Photo/David Yellen

So many things are wrong with the Food and Drug Administration’s regulation of the cigar industry that it’s easy to overlook one of the most egregious prohibitions. We’re talking about the government’s ban on cigar companies giving away samples of cigars, which prohibits manufacturers from donating cigars to American troops.

Prior to 2016, it was common for makers of handmade cigars to donate cigars to American troops, particularly those serving abroad. But that year, a new set of FDA regulations was passed that included a prohibition on free samples, a restriction that made these charitable donations illegal. Have you ever heard of a more ridiculous government prohibition?

Cigars are an indelible part of the long history of the U.S. military, and were smoked by such famed generals as Ulysses S. Grant, George S. Patton and Tommy Franks. The cigar is no stranger to the military. When a soldier, Marine, airman or sailor is stationed far from home, he or she is sacrificing comforts we all take for granted. For those who serve, is it too much to ask that they be given a good cigar? It is a simple—and deserved—comfort no legislator should deny.

The companies that make handmade cigars are fighting the battle to overturn these ridiculous FDA regulations, but for now the ban on cigar companies donating cigars remains. However, these laws don’t apply to individual citizens. We’re sure that all of you reading this letter have a cigar (or a few cigars) that you could spare. We ask that you join us—these prohibitions don’t include publishing companies—in making a donation of cigars to members of the U.S. armed forces.

Cigars For Warriors is a charity that has sent out hundreds of thousands of cigars since 2012. It places a special emphasis on troops serving in danger zones. “Any man or woman who has to be quarantined for two weeks deserves a cigar,” says Storm Boen, an Army vet who cofounded Cigars for Warriors. Don’t forget our troops.

Visit cigarsforwarriors.org and send them some well-earned cigars.

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