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Speak Up

July 9th. Don’t forget that date. That’s the day the Food and Drug Administration will stop taking comments on new rules to regulate the premium cigar industry. If you love cigars, you need to take a few minutes and go to the FDA website, and tell them exactly what you think should be done to protect your right to smoke. The link to post your opinion is at the bottom of our editorial. On our website, cigaraficionado.com, we asked you to tell the FDA what you thought in early May, and by press time, more than 8,000 people had submitted comments to the FDA. But we need more.

The good news is, the FDA gets it mostly right. Cigar Aficionado defines a premium handrolled cigar as being made by hand, from 100 percent tobacco leaves and without any flavorings or filters. No machine-made cigars—at all. The FDA largely agrees with that definition. But they want to put a limit on the category: a true premium cigar would have to cost more than $10.
That’s just not right. 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. 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 at much less than $10.

Cigar Aficionado does focus on life’s finer things. We do appeal to an educated, sophisticated and upscale adult 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. In fact, we’ve had plenty of $5 cigars which are fantastic.

The really good news is that you, every smoker and every reader of Cigar Aficionado, can make a difference. 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, did get 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 comment period ends July 9th, which is not long after many of you will get this issue. The time to act is now. Here is the link: www.regulations.gov. Type “deeming tobacco products” in the search box and follow the instructions.