There is an effort underway in Congress to protect the cigar industry from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Introduced by U.S. Senator from Florida Bill Nelson, S. 772 would exempt premium and traditional cigars from FDA regulation and fees. The bill has 12 co-sponsors and is currently in the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. It also has an identical bill (H.R. 792) in the U.S. House introduced by Florida Congressman Bill Posey and has 129 co-sponsors in the House.
S. 772 would protect thousands of small businesses like local cigar shops and the jobs that make up the premium cigar industry. If the FDA is allowed to expand the Tobacco Control Act's regulations, which it has signaled it wants to do, it will cost hundreds of thousands of jobs in the United States, Nicaragua, Honduras and the Dominican Republic would be at stake.
If S. 772 and H.R. 792 is not passed, then the extra FDA regulation could not only affect jobs, but also those wishing to enjoy the freedom of smoking a fine cigar as their cost could be out of reach for many due to the increased regulation and fees.
Some of the regulations the FDA is considering include:
- Ban walk-in humidors, self serve cigar displays, and mail-order/internet cigar sales;
- Ban all flavored cigars, that are enjoyed by legal-age adults;
- Deface ornate, decorative cigar boxes, often considered an art form with grotesque graphic images;
- Ban cigar events where free cigars (samples) are available to legal-age adults;
- Limits on cigar marketing and advertising;
- Imposition of new 'user fees' [tax] on cigars, to finance FDA regulators;
- Eliminate special release, vintage and small-batch cigars, due to mandates that cigar blends be submitted, tested and pre-approved by the FDA before being released for sale;
- Ban logo cigar merchandise such as hats, t-shirts and jackets.
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