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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The cigar industry, along with two Florida Congressmen, is working to limit the FDA's ability to regulate it as part of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, according to a Daily Caller report. This legislation, which was signed into law in 2009, gave the FDA the power to regulate the production and marketing of tobacco.
Sen. Bill Nelson (R-Fla.) and Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.) have both introduced bills that would exclude premium cigars from the FDA's tobacco-control measures. Although Nelson's legislation has only two co-sponsors, Posey's has garnered 69, according to the report.
Cigar industry organizations are throwing their support behind the potential exemption. Moving cigars to a separate category from cigarettes would "save thousands of small businesses, tens of thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenues," stated International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association CEO Bill Spann in a press release. The group Cigar Rights Of America has also predicted a dire future for the industry, should cigars not receive the exemption.
The pro-cigar groups fear possible negative repercussions such as bans on walk-in humidors, extremely restrictive advertisement requirements, price hikes due to regulatory fees and more, according to the report.
However, anti-tobacco groups are ready to fight to keep cigars under the FDA's purview. Forty organizations such as the American Heart Association and the National Physicians Alliance reportedly signed a joint letter urging congress not to "reverse course and exempt cigars, or certain types of cigars, from oversight."
The groups noted particular concern about the large number of products that could potentially fall under an exemption, but Spann stated many of the products listed would not be affected due to not fitting the definition of 'premium.' "Perhaps they should take the time to actually read the bill," said Spann.