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One Minor Detail

Sep 15, 2016 | By Andrew Nagy
One Minor Detail

In its never-ending quest to protect our troubled, misguided youth from the scourge of premium cigars, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today that it has issued warning letters to several retailers for selling newly regulated tobacco products to minors.

All in all, the FDA said that 55 retailers recently received warning letters for selling tobacco products such as e-cigarettes, e-liquids and cigars (!) to youths under the age of 18. In the announcement, the FDA boasts about the large number of compliance checks it has conducted since 2009, and there is even a quotation from Mitch Zeller, J.D., director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, lauding the agency's protective endeavor.

However, there is one minor detail that the FDA overlooked in its boisterous announcement: Not one of the retailers received a warning letter because they sold a premium cigar to a minor. Zero. Zilch. Nil.

The list (which you can check out here) is filled with gas stations, pharmacies and convenience stores, but only one actual shop that sells premium cigars. It's violation? Selling a CAO Cherry Bomb, a flavored smoke. The rest of the violations largely consist of selling machine-made cigars and vaping-related products.

This is precisely what those in the cigar industry, from cigar lobbying organizations to cigarmakers and Cigar Aficionado, have said all along: Children under the age of 18 don't sneak into cigar shops to purchase handmade, premium cigars.

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"I tell ya those CAO's are no good." —September 16, 2016 15:34 PM
"Likewise, many of these violations are probably for failing to verify the age of someone between 18 and 27. The regulation requires the retailer to verify the age of any one under 27 years or they can ding you. What a massive waste of taxpayer resources!!! As the old saying goes " I am from the government and I am here to help"........" —September 16, 2016 14:36 PM
"I agree James ... It's easy to revise the online system of age verification; however, not an easy task to enforce it. We start to run into a lot of dead ends. I'm a tobacconist in Toronto Canada, and the shipping of Tobacco products is illegal unless its distributor--> retailer so people make purchases online and pick it up in one of our shops across Canada. Now however we still get pinned for making online sales to minors .. " —September 16, 2016 11:04 AM
"And to add to that - the shop that sold the premium cigar did so online, according to the details of the warning letter. Having watched all the FDA webinars leading up to the new ruling, I can say the rules for verifying age online were very unclear, even when the FDA CTP was asked the question directly. In the end, it sounds like you are supposed to have the shipper verify." —September 15, 2016 22:24 PM

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