I’m sure you’ve heard about the FDA’s new regulations over cigars, maybe only because it was buried in an article about their new regulations over vaping and e-cigarettes. Unfortunately the cigar issue has not made as big a splash in the news. Unless you’re going to pay your lawyer to read all 499 pages of the ruling, you’re probably searching for a summary.
In summary, all cigar blends/vitolas released prior to 2/15/07 are grandfathered in and should not face further scrutiny. Every cigar released after that date, and all future cigars, will need to pass a certification by the FDA that the cigar does not exceed industry standards for safety (whatever that means) and that it is labeled properly. In addition, a fee of up to $1,000,000 will need to be paid for the certification process. It appears that not just each blend, but each vitola (size) within that blend will have to be separately certified. In all likelihood, very few manufacturers, especially the smaller boutique blenders, will be willing to go through this process. Even if they are willing, if the FDA’s certification process for cigarettes is any indicator, the certification process will take YEARS to complete. Most people agree that this will effectively destroy the industry as we know it. Cigar retailers were granted (generous, right?) 2 years to sell down their inventory before they can no longer sell cigars that aren’t certified.
This was done in the guise of public safety, mainly for teenagers that they claim smoke premium cigars. We all know that’s a load, and that any cigars teens buy are from the gas station and emptied in order to fill with greener plants. In reality this is a power move and a money grab. Surely the government is picturing coffers filled with the regulatory certification fees, but in reality they’ll just cripple the industry and eliminate thousands of jobs.
Is it too late? Maybe, but we’re not going down without a fight. 3 national organizations (CRA, CAA, and IPCPR) have teamed up to sue the FDA over the new regulations. CRA’s Glynn Loope says: “The FDA ignored the law to craft these expansive and sweeping regulations and cannot justify many of the arbitrary and capricious regulations it purports to enact,”.
If you disagree with this regulation, it doesn’t cost money to act. In fact, it only takes a few minutes. CRA has crafted pre-written letters that will be sent to your local representatives when you enter your zip code and electronically sign the petitions. You can do that here: Take Action
So what’s your take? Do you think I’ve overstated or understated the effect that FDA regulation will have on the industry? Do you have any other ideas on how to protect our cigar rights?