CQ…Clark Here

Thoughts and opinions. LOTS of opinions.

Archive for the month “June, 2014”

Potential FDA regulations on Premium cigars

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.

Respectfully,

Clark D. Peters
(Address)
(Telephone number)

Again, thank you in advance.

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I Hate Goodbyes

My sister died today.  She was born on October 28, 1942, to our parents, John and Myrtle Peters.  Like parents everywhere, they were excited, and could not wait to see their child.  However, medical practices were different then, and when our Mother had a hard labor, believing in “letting nature take its course,” her doctor let it go on.  When JoAnne was born, her umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck, shutting off oxygen for some period of time.  She was still alive, and in an effort to help, they put her in an oxygen tent.  However, that day harmed JoAnne in two ways.  First, her brain had been starved of air to the point that she was mentally handicapped.  Second, medical science found later that pure oxygen has a very harmful effect on a newborns’ eyes; JoAnne was also visually impaired as a result of the oxygen tent.

Dad was away fighting in World War II when JoAnne was born, and I was told that when he came back, he was unable to have more children.  Which was lucky for me, since fifteen years after JoAnne was born, they adopted me.

Growing up, JoAnne was no different in my estimation than anyone else’s older sister would be.  She was a pain.  Fussing at me, pointing out to our parents that I hadn’t taken my required vegetables as they were passed, preempting the TV to watch Lawrence Welk when there were shows on that were much more appealing to a teenage male.  But she was my sister.  I loved her, cared about her, and I can say that I was never embarrassed by her at school functions or anywhere else when we were out in public.

I grew up, graduated High School, went to Penn State, found the love of my life, married, got a job,  had kids, matured.  JoAnne stayed the same.  Folks with mental disabilities (or challenges, if you prefer) are people just like any others.  Some are nice, some are not.  Some are loud, some quiet.  Some sweet, some, well, more vinegar.  JoAnne was the sweetest person I have ever known.  Mentally, she was maybe five years old, but she was always simply a sweetheart.  I don’t know how else to say it.  Beth said it better than I when she wrote, “She was selfless and taught me much about the inner beauty of individuals by looking beyond the outward appearance and seeing their hearts, the way that God sees and values them.”  But as sweet as she was, JoAnne also knew she was not like other people.  I remember when my own children were born, JoAnne said, “I hope they don’t grow up different like me.”  My heart broke for her.

As my parents aged, they realized that at some point they would not be able to care for JoAnne, so they were able to find a home for her in the L’Arche Community in Erie, PA.  L’Arche is an amazing organization started in France by a Catholic priest for the express purpose of caring for the mentally handicapped.  And what a home it turned out to be.  Absolutely dedicated to their “core members,” the staff (they call themselves assistants) are the most zealous advocates for their charges that one could ask.  Each core member lives in a home with a few other core members, and assistants to provide any services needed.  With the help of L’Arche, JoAnne travelled, going to Nashville a couple of times, California, Branson, Florida, and she even got a passport and went to France twice.  I know I have probably left some out, but you get the idea.  They took her bowling during season, and heaven help me if I tried to get her to miss her bowling night.  Each core member cooks a weekly meal, helps with laundry, shopping, you name it.  The assistants will see that each core member goes to the church service of their choice, if they wish, and JoAnne did.  She went to church every week.  In other words, she led a “normal” life.  And she was happy.  She blossomed living in the L’Arche community, and was even sweeter as a result.  She could be funny, making cracks (usually at my expense) that never failed to make me laugh.  She enjoyed our company, and we enjoyed hers.

Life is as it is, and we didn’t get to spend as much time with her as I would have wished, but I guess that’s the case with most siblings.

JoAnne had been sick for the past couple months, getting better, then worse, into the hospital, getting discharged, and then back in again.  She was finally diagnosed with Addison’s disease, and started the necessary medication to treat it.  However, last week she wound up back in the hospital, and they simply couldn’t figure out what was wrong.  She started slipping, and it has been hard to watch.  Her discomfort, and confusion were hard to bear.  She started retaining fluids, and she began to shut down.  Finally, the only thing left for the hospital to do was to release her to her home, as she had been wanting.  Monday evening she was released and went back to her home, with hospice caring for her as needed.  As soon as she got home, JoAnne was nearly instantaneously more relaxed and easy.  However, each day she continued her decline, and this morning we received the phone call letting us know she was gone.  Beth and I went in to see her and say goodbye, smoothing her hair, weeping.  We made it through the day, thinking mostly of JoAnne and being sad.

During supper, I was stunned when I realized that this is permanent.  I’m not going to hear her voice again.  We won’t have her out for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years.  I’ll never again be able to tease her about her most hated food, sauerkraut, and she will never again remind me, “Don’t forget to shave,” her standard post script when we were saying goodbye after a visit.

My sister is gone now, and I must let her go.  I do believe in an afterlife, and I do believe in the saving grace of Christ our King.  I believe that JoAnne is whole now, not in pain, not “different,” a perfect soul, created in God’s own image.  I believe she has a better understanding of heaven than I ever will in this life.  And for her, I could not be happier.  As for me, and Beth, and Sarah and Laura, JoAnne’s L’Arche family, our Aunt Phoebe, our cousins and friends, we are the ones left behind.  We are the ones that must mourn.  And I miss my sister.

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