17 Senators Pen Letter to FDA Urging Premium Cigar Exemption

17 Senators Pen Letter to FDA Urging Premium Cigar Exemption

By Andrew Nagy - Cigar Aficionado

A group of U.S. Senators have sent a bipartisan letter to FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb requesting that the government agency in charge of regulating tobacco exempt premium cigars, pointing out that American jobs are at stake.

In the letter, the senators praised the FDA for recently extending its comment period, saying “it will give the premium cigar industry and its consumers across the country additional time to provide the FA with the comprehensive data requested.” (Click here to read Marvin R. Shanken’s blog and learn how to submit a comment of your own.)

The senators continued by conveying their concern with how the FDA applied the regulations under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 to premium cigars.

“The 2009 law aimed to protect the health of the American public and prevent the use of tobacco products by children—goals that we all support and share,” the senators wrote. “However, we have consistently heard from those impacted that the FDA’s regulation of premium cigars fails to recognize that these cigars are a unique product with a unique consumer base. We are concerned that additional regulation of premium cigars could force small businesses across the country to close and harm historic, American premium cigar manufacturers that use antique machinery.”

The senators then argued that a 2013–2014 Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study “found that the American population’s overall consumption of premium, or traditional, cigars is significantly less than that of cigarettes. Moreover, less than 1 percent of surveyed youth between the ages of 12 and 17 reported trying a traditional cigar in the prior 30 days compared to voer 13 percent experimenting with cigarettes.” The senators added that “when it comes to daily use, the PATH study found no statistically significant use of traditional cigars amongst youth.”

Additionally, the senators urged the FDA to exempt premium cigars by adopting the definition of a premium cigar that’s included in the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2017.

“We are very grateful to Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio for their leadership in working to save America’s historic premium cigar industry from being destroyed by excessive government regulation,” said Drew Newman, general counsel of J.C. Newman Cigar Co. “In a hyper-politicized age, this letter shows that saving the many small, family businesses and jobs that make up America’s premium cigar industry is truly a bipartisan issue that transcends political party lines."

The letter was signed by the following senators: Bill Nelson (D-FL), Marco Rubio (R-FL), John Boozman (R-AR), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Dean Heller (R-NV), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), James M. Inhofe (R-OK), John Kennedy (R-LA), Joe Manchin III (D-WV), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jon Tester (D-MT) and Pat Toomey (R-PA).

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