As has been observed many times before, the ongoing struggle we talk about in this column is not about guns, it’s about freedom. It’s about the freedom to make our own choices and not have Big Brother government dictate what “privileges” they will bestow, and importantly, withhold. It’s about the freedom of adult Americans to make choices for themselves, as opposed to being dictated to by bureaucrats who pretend they know what’s best for us, but in reality are simply amassing power for its own sake, and exploiting useful idiot do-gooders while masking their control agenda with the false air of benevolence.
As anyone who visits my Facebook page or listens to my regular appearances on Salem Radio Network’s nationally-syndicated “Armed American Radio” program knows, I’m a cigar smoker. I don’t smoke them every day, but if I did, that’s my business, and, I’ll concede, my insurance provider’s. I’ll not sit here and make the case that tobacco is good for us, although there’s something to be said for the relaxed state of mind and contentment enjoying a fine smoke in a congenial atmosphere can help bring on. Nor will I ask you to change your mind if you think it’s a nasty habit and don’t want to allow it in your home (I’m relegated to indulging either outside or on my enclosed porch, as I don’t particularly want it in the house either). As with guns, it is your right to personally claim or reject.
For those of you, who like me, enjoy the occasional fine stogie, there’s another threat to our rights looming on the horizon, and while it may not seem as critical or as important as the gun issue, it’s nonetheless a matter of principle, and one that will affect our ability to make our own choices as well as the size and influence of government over our lives. It’s coming from those who act like it’s their right to make our choices for us.
In short, it's about the pursuit of happiness, supposedly an unalienable right. And true to form, the collectivist blue-noses can't leave anything alone, especially if it looks like someone may be enjoying himself without their permission, rules and oversight.
Here’s the problem, as articulated by Cigar Rights of America, admittedly a group supported by the industry, with constituency members that include manufacturers and retailers, but also one that is attracting grassroots consumer followers in every state as more and more cigar smokers are realizing that their ox -- and their way of life -- is about to be gored big time by the Food and Drug Administration, which has publicly announced its intentions to increase controls over the cigar industry. To fight that, CRA is recruiting support from cigar aficionados “to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to clarify the Food and Drug Administration's jurisdiction over certain tobacco products, and to protect jobs and small business involved in the sale, manufacturing and distribution of traditional and premium cigars.
“We can assure you, nothing could rip the soul of the cigar industry apart, like FDA actions,” CRA explains. “For example, some of the (again) hypothetical possibilities, but that are not beyond the realm of reason include: No more walk-in humidors (Canadian model); Limits on advertising and promotions; Banning the very word cigar or tobacco; Manufacturers having to submit blends to FDA for ‘testing,’ before heading to your local shop -- imagine the impact on boutique cigar makers; Adverse impact on flavored tobacco products; And price impact due to new fees on manufacturers. This, is the short list.”
“Our FDA wants to treat us like children and put graphic warnings on cigar boxes and advertising,” retailer Cigars International went on to warn its customers in an advisory email. “New restrictions on marketing will demand dumbed-down, black and white advertisements. Because, as adults, we simply can't handle full color advertisements; that would just be anarchy! FDA regulations will prohibit walk-in humidors at your local tobacconists and limit cigar sales to behind-the-counter sales only. These limitations will ban mail order sales.”
The legislation CRA is backing and asking support for is The Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2013, introduced in the House by Rep. Bill Posey of Florida with 125 co-sponsors as H.R. 792, and currently referred to the Subcommittee on Health. The Senate version, S.772, introduced by Sen. Bill Nelson, also of Florida, with 11 co-sponsors, has been read twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
At this point, passage of either appears problematic. GovTrack.US does not currently give a promising prognosis to the Senate version, although the numbers for the House bill are given a much better chance of making it out of committee albeit a slim chance of being enacted.
So do those who are concerned just accept that and do nothing?
Not at all. We can up the chances. Click here to learn what you can do. Those who agree with CRA’s goals are being asked to send a letter to their representative and senators, with editable text messages already prepared. Prospective supporters can also join CRA and spread the word.
The bottom line is, as with guns, the antis will continue to attack, incrementally or in Big Gulps (they only want to ban those when it’s us doing the gulping), and it's up to us to be on guard, informed and responsive. The unfortunate reality of our present “progressive” age is, the control-everything zealots are going to go after anything that’s not nailed down, and for stuff that is, they’ll be working feverishly to pry out the nails.
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The antis are coming at us from all angles. There’s too much for one person to even keep up with, let alone effectively respond to. The latest GUNS Magazine "Rights Watch" column is online, and you can read it before the magazine hits the stands. Click here to read "They’ve Got Us Surrounded!”