FDA Issues Rules for Cigar Sales to Retailers

On May 5, 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released new guidance on cigars, including cigar sales guidance to cigar retailers. This is the most significant cigar regulation ever issued and impacts every cigar manufacturer, retailer, and consumer. The FDA’s guidance is summarized below and can also be found here. Below the FDA guidance on cigar sales is our take on the impact of these rules. Hold on tight as we get a little frisky.

“Retailer Overview of FDA Regulations for Selling Tobacco Products

Did you know that FDA now regulates all tobacco products? If you’re a retailer selling tobacco products, you must comply with all applicable federal laws. FDA restricts the sale, distribution, and marketing of tobacco products to protect children and adolescents. This page contains a summary of the rules for tobacco retailers but is not comprehensive – federal requirements can be found in the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), Regulations Restricting the Sale and Distribution of Cigarettes and Smokeless Tobacco and Deeming Tobacco Products To Be Subject to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

Rules for Cigar Sales

–  Check photo ID of everyone under age 27 who attempts to purchase cigars.
–  Only sell cigars to customers age 18 and older.
–  Do NOT give away free samples of cigars, including any of their components or parts.
–  Do NOT sell cigars in a vending machine unless in an adult-only facility.
–  Beginning in 2018, do NOT sell or distribute cigars without a health warning statement displayed on the package.
–  Beginning in 2018, do NOT display advertisements for cigars without a health warning statement.
–  If you sell cigars individually, and not in a product package, beginning in 2018 you must post a sign with six required warning statements within 3 inches of each cash register.”

Impact of Rules for Cigar Sales on Cigar Retailers and Consumers

So what does this mean for the cigar retailers and consumers? Here’s what we think.

The requirement to check identification is nothing new as most states have a minimum age for purchasing tobacco at age 18 or 21. This is a “who gives a crap requirement?”.

Eliminating the ability to give away free samples will significantly impact retailers, or will it? Currently, cigar retailers can give away samples as they see fit. However, this mostly occurs at cigar events at the retailer with a manufacturer present. Currently, the retailer traditionally gives away a free cigar as part of the event. The retailer can solve this problem by simply charging to attend the event and including cigars as part of the fee. For example, a retailer can host a Billy Bob Cigar Company (Boy, I hope there isn’t a manufacturer called Billy Bob Cigar Company for so many reasons.) cigar event that includes two cigars, raffle tickets, and dinner for $25 per person. Problem solved. Unfortunately, this does not help those of us who receive a cigar or two to try when visiting our local cigar shop. That tradition is over. We’ll now have to buy a cigar that we want to taste. Also, this rule may have a major impact on sales that include free cigars. Open the pages of your favorite cigar catalog and you’ll see lots of offers that include “free cigars”. This can also likely be resolved by a few word changes, e.g., “A box of Billy Bob Cigar Company cigars are on sale for $100 and includes five additional Billy Bob Cigar Company maduro roughriders.” Events such as the Big Smoke and CIGARfest will likely have to change their structure to accommodate for the new rule but these events should be able to continue as long as the ticket fee clearly indicates the ticket includes some number of cigars. We’ve heard rumors that cigar manufacturers are required to donate cigars to these events at no cost to the retailer putting on the event. This could be a problem but it is not insurmountable.

The requirement to sell cigars in a vending machine only at an adult facility is moot. We’ve never seen premium cigars sold in a vending machine. If you are buying your cigars from a vending machine, please stop reading this blog. You need to read the blog over at www.flavoredcigarssuck.com or www.cheapasscigarsaremything.com.

The requirement in 2018 to place a health warning statement on the cigar package will impact the beauty of our cigar boxes. This is sad to cigar box collectors out there. And if you’ve ever been to a box manufacturer, this is particularly lame as their work of art will now be covered with stickers about how your unborn fetus may be impacted by cigar smoking. As an aside, have you ever seen a pregnant woman smoking cigars or visiting your local cigar shop? The FDA must be smoking crack to think this is going on. Perhaps they should regulate their own consumption of crack. Wankers. Also, the requirement to place warning labels includes individual cigars. Perhaps this is the end of cigars without a cellophane wrapper or the beginning of cigars with a cigar warning as part of the band. Maybe a cigar company should trademark the cigar warning label verbiage as the name of their cigar. In the end though, none of us read the damn labels so this is really just an annoyance. On a side note, we are authoring a blog post that goes through the new warning statement requirements. Look for it in the near future.

Requiring a health warning statement on cigar advertisements is a nothing-burger. It is an annoyance and we regular cigar smokers will just ignore it. Hopefully, the pregnant lady who smokes cigars at your local shop will take notice, however. She is probably single so you single cigar smokers have a shot at a date in the future. Also, she should probably name her baby, Arturo Padron Saka Upmann Macanudo Romeo. This would be a great name for a baby whose mother smoked premium cigars during pregnancy. Humor folks. Please do not post comments about how callous we are towards pregnant women. We love pregnant women.

And finally, the requirement for retailers to post a sign with the six required warning statements within three inches of the cash register is also a nothing-burger. We may start our own business printing these signs for retailers and making a few bucks instead of losing our ass on this site. Alas, we are guessing the cigar manufacturers already have their printing press going printing “Required Warning Statements sponsored by Cigar Company X.”




c.gar loves all things cigar-related. He typically falls in love with cigars that are discontinued shortly thereafter. His first cigar was a Swisher Sweet with a wood tip. Sadly, these are still in production.

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