Recently, Cigar Rights of America (CRA) posted a request to cigar smokers asking each of us to lobby our Senators and Congressmen to support H.R. 662 / S. 441, a bill exempting premium cigars from FDA regulation. CRA is the only consumer-based public advocacy group fighting to protect the individual rights to enjoy premium cigars. Here is the text from their request:
“Help Exempt Premium Cigars From FDA Regulation!
H.R. 662 / S. 441 – A bill to clarify the FDA’s jurisdiction over certain tobacco products
The worst case scenario of “option 1” is now reality with the FDA’s release of their “final rule” concerning the regulation of premium cigars under the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. It is now more important than ever that everyone’s voice is heard in opposition to “option 1″ regulation. Take action now and contact both your members of the United States Senate as well as your Congressman in the House of Representatives and respectfully ask them to support S. 441 and H.R. 662, which would exempt premium cigars from FDA regulation and oversight as well as to support language adopted by the House Committee on Appropriations on April 19, 2016, calling for an exemption for premium cigars from FDA oversight. Don’t let the FDA have the final say. Take action now.”
The page allows you to add your personal information and CRA will email your legislators directly on your behalf. You can go directly to their request HERE.
Smokey Butts and I are members of CRA and decided to see what our legislators would say in response to our pleas. Here is an example of the email sent from CRA on our behalf:
Dear Senator Moran:
On May 5, 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) released their final rule and deemed premium cigars subject to federal regulation in an “option 1” framework. The 499 pages of the final rule contain regulatory actions and requirements that will serve as the catalyst for the destruction of the entire premium cigar industry, from the consumer and retailer all the way to the manufacturer. As your constituent and voter, I urge you to join many of your Congressional colleagues and co-sponsor S. 441 as well as to support the language adopted by the House Committee on Appropriations on April 19, 2016, calling for an exemption for premium cigars from FDA oversight. Beginning in the 112th Congress through the current Congress, 289 different members of the House of Representatives and 26 members of the Senate, from both sides of the aisle, have co-sponsored legislation that would exempt premium cigars from FDA regulation. The regulations that the FDA has deemed premium cigars subject to that would inhibit my ability enjoy premium cigars include the following:
– Ban on sampling, which will take away my ability as an adult to try a new product;
– Premarket review requirements that will virtually eliminate any new brands from coming onto the market;
– HPHC testing that will eliminate small and medium size premium cigar companies and concentrate production within the hands of a few very large companies;
– Imposition of new ‘user fees’ [tax] on cigars, to finance FDA regulators;
– Defacement of ornate and decorative cigar boxes; and
– Ban cigar events where free cigars (samples) are available to legal-age adults.
Congress must act to protect the historic premium cigar industry in the United States. If Congress does not act, the FDA will systematically eliminate thousands of small businesses, thousands of domestic jobs, hundreds of thousands of jobs in Latin America, and my
freedom as an adult to enjoy a premium cigar.
In closing, I am urging you to join many of your colleagues and support the premium cigar industry by co-sponsoring S. 441 and supporting the language adopted by the House Committee on Appropriations. Congress should exempt premium cigars from regulatory authority by the FDA.
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter and for considering my thoughts.
Well said, Smokey. Well said. (Smokey really likes it when people say nice things about him, even if he didn’t write a word.)
Smokey Butts lives in Kansasssss and I live in the Independent Republic of Northern Virginia (our 51st state, as of yet, unrecognized by the U.S.). In short, I received a big FU from my Senator and Smokey Butts received support from one of his and an auto responder from the other, Sen. Jerry Moran (R). As of the publication of this post, neither of us have received diddly from our Representative. In my case, Don Beyer is my representative and he is so far to the left, he would likely outlaw candy for children due to the sugar count. I have emailed him numerous times in the past and he tells me to pound sand each time. I guess this request didn’t even warrant a response. Smokey Butts’ Representative is Mike Pompeo (R).
Below is the response I received from Senator Tim Kaine from Virginia. I added a few snarky comments in his letter in parenthesis. In the letter, he states he will keep my views in mind. Phooey. How about supporting the damn legislation instead?
Thank you for contacting me about cigar regulation. I appreciate hearing from you. (I doubt it. Not even the staffer who copied this standard response wants to hear from me.)
On February 10th, 2015 Senator Bill Nelson introduced S. 441. This bill would exempt traditionally-manufactured large and premium cigars from regulation by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (Thank you for telling me something I just emailed you about asking you to support. I must have forgotten what the email said. Cigars must make me lose my memory.)
The FDA is considering whether and how to regulate cigars. The FDA is looking at ways to curb cigar sales to minors. Large tobacco companies would like all tobacco products to be regulated in the same manner; however, premium cigar-makers believe that because their products can only be purchased by those over the age of 18, they should be exempt from new FDA tobacco regulations. (Based on the recent FDA regulation, I don’t think they are “considering” squat. They already considered and put a dagger in the premium cigar industry. Copy and paste should require to read and edit before the paste actually happens.)
Public health has been a priority of mine throughout my career in public service. During my term as Governor, we passed a smoking ban in restaurants with exceptions for outdoor areas and establishments with separately-ventilated smoking rooms. Private clubs were also exempt from the ban. Virginia spends millions each year on illnesses related to secondhand smoke and reining in health care costs is a priority. (I guess this means you don’t plan to support the bill.)
I also have supported the efforts of small businesses to expand and be profitable. As Governor of Virginia, I worked to maintain the Commonwealth’s status as the most business-friendly state in the nation. We received numerous accolades, including “Best State for Business” by Forbes Magazine through all four years of my term. Our regulatory and legal structures helped us attract companies of all sizes to Virginia. I understand how to help businesses be competitive in a globalized marketplace. (Not sure what this has to do with cigar regulation but thanks for the pep talk about Virginia. I might just move there from the Independent Republic of Northern Virginia.)
I will be sure to keep your views in mind should the Senate consider legislation affecting cigar regulation. Thank you again for contacting me. (Hmm. The Senate is considering legislation. Did you not read my email? I get it. . . FU cigar smoker.)
Below is the response Smokey Butts received from Senator Pat Roberts from Kansas. Senator Roberts is on our side as indicated in the below letter. Thanks, Senator Roberts for your support!
May 25, 2016
Dear Smokey Butts:
Thank you for contacting me regarding cigars. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.
In 2009, Congress passed and the president signed into law the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (P.L. 111-31), which gave the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the ability to regulate cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco. Additional products that the agency would deem, through regulation, to be tobacco products could also be regulated. I had strong concerns that this law would lead to serious unintended consequences. By granting the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco, we are over extending an already over-burdened agency, which could have a crippling effect on the FDA. I opposed this legislation because I think it takes the wrong approach.
On May 5, 2016, the FDA issued a final rule that would expand its regulatory authority over tobacco products to include electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), cigars, pipe tobacco, among others. Under the rule, any of these products that went on the market after February 15, 2007, must receive FDA approval to remain on the market and new products will require premarket review and approval by the agency. In addition, people under the age of 18 will be prohibited from purchasing these products and the products will have to have health warnings on packages and advertisements.
Last year, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act (S. 441). This legislation would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (P.L. 75-717) to exempt traditional large and premium cigars from regulation by the FDA and from user fees assessed on tobacco products by the agency. Currently, S. 441 has been referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, of which I am a member.
I understand the need to continue to reduce youth smoking rates and encourage adults to stop smoking. This will only produce positive results for public health and the costs to our health care system. However, we must ensure that any regulation is based on sound science and does not create unreasonable barriers to access for adults. Rest assured, should S. 441 or similar legislation come before the HELP Committee, I will keep your thoughts in mind.
Again thank you for taking the time to contact me. If you would like more information on issues before the Senate, please visit my website at http://roberts.senate.gov. You may also sign up on my home page for a monthly electronic newsletter as well as follow me on Facebook at Facebook.com/SenPatRoberts and Twitter atTwitter.com/SenPatRoberts for additional updates on my work for Kansas.
With every best wish,
Pat Roberts (R)
If we ever get a response from our Representatives, we’ll push out another post with the results. We did our part; please do your part to stop the FDA by emailing your legislators!