Take some time and read our personal take on the recent passage of a new house bill concerned with cigars, vapes, and other tobacco-related products. Find out why you shouldn't fear one day walking into your favorite cigar store only to find its shelves barren and empty.
To say that the Obama years were not friendly to the cigar industry would be an understatement. Our woes began when Obama, in his first year, signed legislation that allowed the Food and Drug Administration (hereafter the FDA) to regulate ‘flavored’ tobacco products.
The reasoning behind this law was flimsy, but at least there was some pretense of reasoning. The claim was that ‘flavored’ cigarettes (such as clove cigarettes) were what was getting kids hooked on smoking and that banning them would prevent the children of America from smoking as they became adults. Notably, the legislation didn’t regulate menthol cigarettes, which actually are quite common with people who smoke in their youth.
Throughout the years of the Obama administration, the FDA (and the rest of the federal government) took an expansive view of their ability to regulate things without legislation granting them that responsibility. Among other things, the FDA ‘deemed’ that they had the right to regulate not only cigarettes, but ALL tobacco products, including cigars, pipe tobacco, and even vaping fluids. Of course, while ‘deeming’ that they could regulate these things, they also decided that the FDA had the right to regulate vaping devices, pipes used for smoking tobacco, and more.
The FDA chose to create a number of expensive ‘standards’ to force on to the tobacco industry as a whole. For example, the FDA would grandfather in tobacco products currently in use, but new products would have to be ‘tested’, which would require thousands of ‘samples’ (cigars) for ‘testing,’ as well as around a million dollars for each vitola to be tested. And, of course, the FDA is a bureaucracy, so for each different size that the cigar would be offered in the process would have to be repeated. This means if a cigar manufacturer was to offer a new blend in three new sizes, that’s three million dollars in fees and thousands of cigars for ‘testing’. That’s a cost that even the big cigar companies would balk at. For boutique cigar makers, that’s not affordable.
Thankfully, members of the United States Congress passed legislation (H.R. 3354) that seems like it will help to stop the FDA from ‘deeming’ that they have the right to regulate whatever tobacco product they want. H.R. 3354 is an omnibus spending bill, one that covers a wide variety of tobaccos and agencies (its proper name is Interior and Environment, Agriculture and Rural Development, Commerce, Justice, Science, Financial Services and General Government, Homeland Security, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, State and Foreign Operations, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Legislative Branch, and Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, 2018).
In this bill, among thousands of other spending appropriations, is a section (Sec. 752) that is very important to every cigar smoker. Section 752 says that no funds made available during this or any other fiscal year may be used to implement rules concerning regulation of ‘traditional large and premium cigars.’ It also serves to define a ‘traditional large and premium cigar,’ identifying it as a cigar that:
- (1) any roll of tobacco that is wrapped in 100 percent leaf tobacco, is bunched with 100 percent tobacco filler, contains no filter, tip, or non-tobacco mouthpiece, weighs at least 6 pounds per 1,000 count, and—
- (A) has a 100 percent leaf tobacco binder and is hand rolled;
- (B) has a 100 percent leaf tobacco binder and is made using human hands to lay the leaf tobacco wrapper or binder onto only one machine that bunches, wraps, and caps each individual cigar; or
- (C) has a homogenized tobacco leaf binder and is made in the United States using human hands to lay the 100 percent leaf tobacco wrapper onto only one machine that bunches, wraps, and caps each individual cigar; and
- (2) is not a cigarette or a little cigar (as such terms are defined in paragraphs (3) and (11), respectively, of section 900 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 387)).
This may seem unimportant, but this definition, as well as the entirety of Section 752, prevents the FDA from doing two things. Firstly, it prevents them from regulating cigars, under the concept that they are NOT cigarettes. As such, the FDA has never been legislated the ability to regulate them.
Secondly, and more importantly, the bill denies the FDA funding from ANY source in order to enforce the rules they bandied about beginning in 2016. This means even if the FDA finds a way to ‘deem’ these regulations into being via some as-yet-unknown legal loophole, they can’t fund the enforcement of that regulation.
As a bonus, if you ‘vape’, Section 753 denies the FDA the right to regulate vaping, too. J. Glynn Loope, the executive director of Cigar Rights of America, was excited by this development, and you should be too. The most important thing he said, though, is “The bill further speaks to the original congressional intent of the Tobacco Control Act, while serving as a message to the U.S. Senate, as budget negotiations continue this year.”
Now, sadly, the bill is parked in the Senate, which decided to pass a temporary continuing resolution instead of an actual budget appropriations bill. However, the language in the bill should give cigar smokers, pipe smokers, and even those who enjoy ‘vaping’ the impression that the government (or at least most of it) has some respect for our rights, Otherwise, even if the United State’s is increasingly against the idea of smoking anywhere, we will not one day go to our favorite cigar shop’s humidor or log on to an online cigar shop only to find out that the shelves are bare and most cigar makers have gone out of business.
El Cigar Shop is an online cigar store that distributes premium and rare cigars and cigar-related products throughout the country. We are located in Glenside, PA and have a walk-in humidor stocked for anyone looking for cigars in the Philadelphia, PA area. Come by and talk with any of our staff members if you share our love for cigars. CONTACT US if you are searching for a specific product or visit our website and use our CUSTOM CIGAR WIZARD to browse our extensive cigar collection.