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Write The FDA And Help Save Premium Cigars

May 23, 2018 | By Marvin R. Shanken
Write The FDA And Help Save Premium Cigars

Few things in life give me as much pleasure as handmade, premium cigars. They help organize my thoughts, they allow me to reflect and they relax me. As a reader of Cigar Aficionado, and a visitor to CigarAficionado.com, I bet you feel the same way. That’s why I’m reaching out to you with a very important personal request.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has enacted serious and onerous restrictions on the premium cigar industry. Some of these restrictions have already gone into effect—the ability to create new products, for example, is now shackled with prohibitions—and many more are scheduled to follow very soon. All of these restrictions threaten the very industry itself, and must be stopped.

The FDA recently opened a comment period, inviting the public to weigh in on the issue. They have said they are willing to listen, so it’s imperative that we all tell the FDA that premium cigars deserve exemption from these regulations. 

The FDA needs to know that premium cigars are not at all like cigarettes or machine-made cigars. They are made by hand, contain only natural products, and are smoked by adults. They don’t need to be regulated. There aren’t many companies that make them, and it’s a small industry, with many family-owned companies crafting artisanal products in a manner that hasn’t changed in decades. 

Here is the link for comment. We have crafted a sample message for you to see. Feel free to use our letter below, or to make one of your own design.

You have until July 25 until the comment period closes, but don’t wait. The time to do this is now. Write the FDA and help save the premium cigar industry.

Submit your comment to the FDA here: https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=FDA-2017-N-6107-0001


Dear Sir or Madam: 

As an adult who chooses to enjoy premium cigars, I am writing to share my thoughts on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recent Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that was published on March 26 of this year pertaining to premium cigars.

It is my understanding that in order to assist in its evaluation of the regulation of premium cigars, FDA is seeking comments and other information that may have developed since the final rule was issued.  

As a premium cigar consumer, I have closely followed what FDA has done since it announced its Final Rule regarding premium cigars in 2016.  I continue to believe that premium cigars are a unique product, very different from the cigarettes and smokeless tobacco that Congress actually instructed FDA to regulate.  FDA’s actions in regulating premium cigars demonstrate that the agency has attempted a “one size fits all” approach to regulation. But premium cigars do not present the health, addiction and youth access issues associated with other tobacco products. FDA should respect those differences, rather than lumping premium cigars into the same group as cigarettes and cheap, candy-flavored cigarette substitutes.

A premium cigar is made by skilled artisans, using all-natural tobacco. It has no additives, using only aged tobacco, water and some vegetable gum. It doesn’t have filters or tips, and comes in artistic and ornate packaging that shouldn’t be marred by glaring warning labels. 

I agree that recent studies should lead FDA to reconsider its overreaching rules on premium cigars. Data from the 2013 National Adult Tobacco Survey, the 2013-2014 Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health study, and the National Longitudinal Mortality Study from 1973-2011, show that very few youths use premium cigars and that the typical premium cigar consumer faces no statistically significant elevated health risks. The findings have been confirmed in peer reviewed articles in the New England Journal of Medicine and Journal of the American Medical Association. This new and rigorous research alone should cause the agency to reevaluate the harshness of the final rule. 

No one said it better than the head of the FDA himself, Dr. Scott Gottlieb. In an April 2012 op-ed published before he became Commissioner, Dr. Gottlieb wrote, “Whatever the FDA does, the fight [to regulate cigars] reveals a broader trend of expanding the scope of regulation to cover areas never envisioned by Congress.” Dr. Gottlieb noted the agency does not have to regulate premium cigars simply because they contain tobacco: “The agency could argue that the premium cigars fall within its jurisdiction as a “tobacco product” but that, for now, it will exercise discretion and not regulate the high end smokes.” 

I couldn’t agree more. 

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