Here is a concern that is close to my heart. The FDA has been given permission to regulate cigars. Now, I get regulating cigarettes. They have hundreds of toxic chemicals added in addition to the tobacco products, are inhaled, and thus are an extreme health hazard. Premium cigars, not so much. Chris Kelly, owner of Leaf Lover Tobacconist in North East, PA gave me a website explaining evenhandedly and in detail all that one could need to understand the issue. I have linked to Halfwheel’s FDA page here: Halfwheel’s explanation of the proposed FDA regulations on Premium cigars.. This is a great site, and I encourage you to peruse it if you have any questions.
The FDA has proposed two Options. Option one has no exemptions for Premium cigars, would require FDA approval for any cigar introduced after 2007 (and we know how quickly such approval would be granted), and would basically destroy the entire industry. Option two is better, in that it grants exemption for Premium cigars. the problem is that the FDA proposes to define Premium cigars in a very narrow way. This is not the worst of the regulations. The two “killers” are: that a Premium cigar costs a minimum of $10.00 each; and that they “weigh more than 6 pounds per 1000 units.” Very, very few Premium cigars can meet those standards.
The FDA did state, however, that they would entertain and consider the public’s thoughts on this issue, and folks are encouraged to write them. I have composed a letter that will go in the mail today. I am asking you to write them as well, to ask the FDA to change the restrictions as it pertains to Premium cigars, and to change the definition of a Premium cigar. Feel free to use the letter that I wrote, in part or whole. Time is of the essence, we only have approximately three weeks before the FDA closes the door on public opinion, so please write to them quickly. Thank you ahead of time.
Final note: This is not the time or venue to be rude, angry, or insulting. The deed is done; the FDA has the permission of Congress to regulate the cigar industry. If you are upset over personal freedoms, please, address that with Congress. For this, I ask that you be respectful, evenhanded, and calm. That will go a lot farther when your correspondence is read.
Here is the letter:
Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305)
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, rm. 1061
Rockville, MD 20852
Open Letter to the FDA regarding regulation of premium cigars.
Dear Sirs and Madams,
I wanted to contact you regarding the above issue. I clearly understand the concerns with tobacco products, and the regulations for advertising and marketing cigarettes. I understand that the FDA has relatively recently been given permission to also regulate cigars as well.
Here are my thoughts.
First, I have never smoked a cigarette in my life. I believe them worthy of regulation, due not simply to the tobacco in them, but the harsh and dangerous chemicals inherent in the current making of them, and that are infused into the final product. I have, however, enjoyed Premium cigars for quite some time. Here are some of the differences:
According to the American Lung Association, cigarettes contain “approximately 600 ingredients in cigarettes. When burned, they create more than 7,000 chemicals. At least 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer, and many are poisonous.
Here are a few of the chemicals in tobacco smoke, and other places they are found:
Acetone – found in nail polish remover
Acetic Acid – an ingredient in hair dye
Ammonia – a common household cleaner
Arsenic – used in rat poison
Benzene – found in rubber cement
Butane – used in lighter fluid
Cadmium – active component in battery acid
Carbon Monoxide – released in car exhaust fumes
Formaldehyde – embalming fluid
Hexamine – found in barbecue lighter fluid
Lead – used in batteries
Naphthalene – an ingredient in moth balls
Methanol – a main component in rocket fuel
Nicotine – used as insecticide
Tar – material for paving roads
Toluene – used to manufacture paint.”
Premium cigars, however, contain 100 percent tobacco and none of these chemicals. An excellent definition of “Premium Cigar” is utilized by New Hampshire in this way:
“hand-constructed and hand-rolled;
has a wrapper made entirely from whole tobacco leaf;
has a filler and binder made entirely of tobacco, except for adhesives or other materials used to maintain size, texture, or flavor; and
has a wholesale price of $2.00 or more.”
A further differentiation should also be recognized between Premium and “less than” premium cigars. Most Premium cigars contain long-leaf filler, the wrapper is whole leaf, and they are capped by hand. Further, they must be kept in an environment that is temperature and humidity controlled, usually at around 70 degrees and 65-70 percent humidity. In contrast, Non-premium cigars usually contain chopped-leaf filler, and the wrapper is liquified tobacco pulp that is pressed and dried, much like paper. They can (and are) stored anywhere. These are hardly Premium, and in my opinion, not worth the effort. My personal motto regarding cigars is that if cigars and gasoline can be purchased at the same place, don’t ever smoke the cigars. Further, Premium cigars are not marketed to, sold to or consumed by minors. Nor are Premium cigars dual use, making them useless for attempted utilization with illegal substances such as marijuana, and useful only for enjoying as is.
I am an adult citizen of the US, and I enjoy premium cigars. Most of those I enjoy are manufactured by smaller manufacturers, often known as “boutique” manufacturers. These are very much like micro breweries, which make very fine and interesting beers that are not mass-produced or mass marketed. The FDA regulations as currently written and defined for Premium cigars would have a massive impact on the boutique cigar manufacturers, and would put many out of business.
Premium cigars are one of my passions, as well as a wonderful means of relaxation. I enjoy them occasionally and socially, and find the entire experience nearly zen-like. I enjoy the flavor, the visual impact of a cigar (how it is rolled, the lines of the leaf, the color or the wrapper and ash), and the time it takes to fully enjoy a Premium cigar, often approximately an hour or more.
Please register my concern and lack of support for the current proposed FDA regulations concerning Premium Cigars. Due to the above concerns, I am wholeheartedly opposed to the regulations. I would request that Premium cigars be exempted from the proposed (and finalized) regulations, and that the definitions concerning Premium cigars be modified as above, with the addition that they “weigh 3 pounds or more per 1000 units,” not the 6 pounds per 1000 units as currently proposed.
Clark D. Peters
Again, thank you in advance.