Good news: FDA probably going after cigars next

posted at 9:31 pm on March 25, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

So, cigarette smoking made you a pariah, but you still liked to have a little puff every now and then, maybe intermittently, socially, with a glass of scotch. You grew up, you switched to the occasional cigar. Sorry, you’re next, pariah!

Nearly four years after it began regulating cigarettes, the Food and Drug Administration is poised to extend its reach to a broader range of tobacco products. At the top of that list: cigars, which have experienced a boom in recent years even as cigarette sales have declined, in part because of growing popularity among young people.

Anti-tobacco advocates and industry representatives widely expect the agency to require changes in the marketing and manufacturing of cigars. But the central question remains: What kind of cigars will the FDA target, and how?

Wouldn’t it be fun to be a small business owner creating anything tasty or gratifying for ingestion and worrying about when exactly it might strike the fancy of the feds to go after you? What kind of ________ will the FDA target, and how? Predictably, premium cigars are turning on convenience store cigars to try to save themselves from the regulatory hammer. Yet another example of how the affluent seem to be able to get around annoying regulation while often regular folks and their preferred products tend to get the shaft.

On one end of the spectrum are the hand-rolled Cohibas and Arturo Fuentes that stock the humidors of high-end cigar shops and are favored by aficionados who don’t blink at paying top dollar. On the other are the convenience-store brands that appeal primarily to young smokers, such as 59-cent blueberry Swisher Sweets, peach-flavored White Owl Cigarillos, Phillies Blunts Sour Apple and menthol Cheyenne “little cigars” that are barely distinguishable from cigarettes.

Public health experts and some anti-tobacco lawmakers are pressing the FDA to regulate all cigars, but they mostly worry about the inexpensive, flavored varieties that have proliferated in recent years. Such cigars “are marketed aggressively and have resulted in high school kids and young adults being twice as likely as their older counterparts to be cigar smokers,” the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said in a recent report.

Meanwhile, makers of “premium cigars” have been lobbying intensely in an effort to avoid being lumped in with the candy- and fruit-flavored, corner-store varieties. A bill on Capitol Hill, co-sponsored by dozens of lawmakers, would keep carefully defined “traditional large and premium” cigars out of the FDA’s reach, although its prospects remain uncertain.

I don’t blame them for trying to save themselves. They’re acting perfectly rationally, but it’d be nice if they could all just compete in the open market instead of seeing who can lobby better for survival. The Cigar Association of America is taking a characteristically timid, wait-and-see approach for an industry about to get neutered and have its goodies handed back to it.

“All our products are different, so you should look at all of them differently,” said Craig Williamson, president of the cigar group.

Meet a cigar shop owner in Florida:

Carlos Navarro has rounded up a good size clientele at his Southside cigar shop called, Aromas. “We feel as a premium cigar market that our cigars are not intended for the teenage crowd,” he said.

Navarro explained how he thinks the government is going to be working against everything he, and other small shops owners, have built up. “It would hurt our business, it would destroy our business.”

Navarro and others in the industry are getting concerned because of all the talk of the Food and Drug Administration’s ideas on possible regulation in the near future, similar to the types of controls they have imposed on the cigarette industry.

The biggest actor in this space is Swisher International, which produces both flavored and premium cigars and employs thousands of Americans. If I had to guess how this turns out, the bigwigs at Swisher will have the clout to work a deal that allows their market in both kinds of cigars to remain relatively safe whereas small shops and start-ups won’t be able to take the heat of increased costs and diminished business. I hope that’s not the case. Maybe the FDA will just decide not to “extend its reach.”

Ha, let me guess your reaction to that last sentence.

Photo credit for front page to Brian Birke, Flickr.

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George Burns was unavailable for comment..

Electrongod on March 25, 2013 at 9:35 PM

Le Ahem,

Monica Hardest Hit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

canopfor on March 25, 2013 at 9:35 PM

So if I buy one of those red HotAir shirts..
will the popups stop?

/

Electrongod on March 25, 2013 at 9:37 PM

George Burns was unavailable for comment..

Electrongod on March 25, 2013 at 9:35 PM

Well he did live to be 100, don’t think cigars had much to do with his death.

booger71 on March 25, 2013 at 9:45 PM

May if the makers changed the name to Gay-gars the media would stop harassing them?

profitsbeard on March 25, 2013 at 9:47 PM

So if I buy one of those red HotAir shirts..
will the popups stop?
Electrongod on March 25, 2013 at 9:37 PM

Being a subscriber to Townhall magazine doesn’t stop the pop ups, nor does my Firefox pop-up blocker (running on Linux).

Kevin K. on March 25, 2013 at 9:47 PM

Well he did live to be 100, don’t think cigars had much to do with his death.

booger71 on March 25, 2013 at 9:45 PM

My point exactly..

You will not see a FDA mandated picture of Burns on the back of a cigar pack..
Or however they are packaged..

Electrongod on March 25, 2013 at 9:48 PM

Being a subscriber to Townhall magazine doesn’t stop the pop ups, nor does my Firefox pop-up blocker (running on Linux).

Kevin K. on March 25, 2013 at 9:47 PM

They control the vertical..
And the horizontal..
:)

Electrongod on March 25, 2013 at 9:52 PM

So if I buy one of those red HotAir shirts..
will the popups stop?
Electrongod on March 25, 2013 at 9:37 PM

No, but your chance of getting laid does.

lorien1973 on March 25, 2013 at 9:53 PM

George Burns was unavailable for comment..

Electrongod on March 25, 2013 at 9:35 PM

Well he did live to be 100, don’t think cigars had much to do with his death.

booger71 on March 25, 2013 at 9:45 PM

My Doctor advised me to give up cigars.
-Then he died

– George Burns

massrighty on March 25, 2013 at 9:54 PM

No, but your chance of getting laid does.

lorien1973 on March 25, 2013 at 9:53 PM

Thread winner!!
Right there^^^^^

Dang..
Be back in a moment…

Electrongod on March 25, 2013 at 9:55 PM

canopfor on March 25, 2013 at 9:35 PM

Lolz X 100.

SparkPlug on March 25, 2013 at 9:55 PM

To the FDA:

Kiss my butt! I will drink my Jameson and smoke my Partagas No. 6 till I die. Try to stop me.

MNDavenotPC on March 25, 2013 at 9:59 PM

Ha, let me guess your reaction to that last sentence.

Nice touch, MKH. A well thought out and written post, with a little cherry on top…it’s EXACTLY what my reacction was…I’d totally be friends with you.

This is not about protecting children from anything. It’s aboutI 1) pols and lobbyist getting richer making deals, and 2) another opportunity for government control and business squashing. The latter is ALWAYS what government expansion is about.

Jackalope on March 25, 2013 at 10:04 PM

What kind of ________ will the FDA target, and how?

The Internet tax moratorium. Lawmakers started appearing and making sure everyone knew they supported a moratorium on taxing the Internet. I remember frowning and coming to terms with the idea that, to them, if it exists, it is a thing to tax. All my old ideas like “why are they even thinking about taxing the Internet? We already have everything we need, just balance the budget and be finished” — died a frowny, sad death.

There is nothing in life they don’t have an opinion on; there is nothing they have an opinion on they are willing to leave uncontrolled. They are like your High School Homecoming Committee, if your committee was loaded up with amphetamines and obsessive beyond the reach of modern pharmaceuticals.

Axe on March 25, 2013 at 10:05 PM

1. Groucho Marx made it to 86. Another good endorsement for cigars. Those old comedians were onto something, eh?

2. Will Bill Clinton’s brand of cigars be regulated?

Remember, Groucho loved his cigars, but at least he took them out once in a while.

either orr on March 25, 2013 at 10:05 PM

So if I buy one of those red HotAir shirts..
will the popups stop?

/

Electrongod on March 25, 2013 at 9:37 PM

Electrongod:Lol,….*Click your heels,er,shoes three times**,haha:)

canopfor on March 25, 2013 at 10:10 PM

bout 10 years ago, my family took Amtrak from LA to the Grand Canyon. We went 1st class — four berths in a Pullman sleeper. It was our first train ride, and it was really enjoyable until, at about 11PM, we started smelling cigar smoke.

Turns out that trains are like airliners with respect to the air — they recirculate it. In addition, smoking is (was) permitted on the train.

So, one person in a room somewhere else in our care had lit up a stogie, and when my son who had asthma started coughing, we complained to the conductor and found out that there was nothing we could do — smokers had the right of it. So decided to sleep in the diner car instead — which was empty. About 4Am, the detective came through the car and ordered us out — seems nobody is allowed in the dining car except for meals.

So back to our berths we went only to find that we still had to deal with the cigar smoke our inconsiderate neighbor had created. In the end, I pulled the emergency gasket from around the window and pushed the window out of it’s hole in the side of the car — it vanished onto the night…. The temperature dropped to around freezing, but we had blankets and we could breathe.

I’ve never forgotten that trip, and when Amtrak finally banned smoking of any type on the train, I was ecstatic.

unclesmrgol on March 25, 2013 at 10:11 PM

canopfor on March 25, 2013 at 9:35 PM

Lolz X 100.

SparkPlug on March 25, 2013 at 9:55 PM

SparkPlug:Tee-hee,I couldn’t resist:)

canopfor on March 25, 2013 at 10:11 PM

Maybe the FDA will just decide not to “extend its reach.”

Dream on. The incentives for growth in government bureaucracy only go in one direction.

Socratease on March 25, 2013 at 10:27 PM

…BJ Clinton will show the FDA what to do with a cigar!

KOOLAID2 on March 25, 2013 at 10:30 PM

The plain (as in unflavored) Backwoods Smokes are the best cheap cigar out there. Mild, all tobacco (no filler, very unusual for cheapies) and the foil pack keeps them fresh.

novaculus on March 25, 2013 at 10:39 PM

I’ve never forgotten that trip, and when Amtrak finally banned smoking of any type on the train, I was ecstatic.

unclesmrgol on March 25, 2013 at 10:11 PM

Just curios. Anyone in your family wear perfume, aftershave, etc.?

riddick on March 25, 2013 at 10:41 PM

Of course a large percentage of those “small cigars” are bought strictly to use as blunt wrappers. The 7-11 near my house sells more small cigars than rolling papers.

rokemronnie on March 25, 2013 at 10:46 PM

Everytime the government threatens to regulate something, the lobbyists show up with millions in campaign donations. There’s every reason for the government to keep it up, it’s a protection racket.

“Nice industry you have there, be a shame if anything happened to it.” Cha-ching!

jnelchef on March 25, 2013 at 10:54 PM

Name a famous cigar smoker that died before the age of 80.

They tried this a few years ago until they discovered how many Senators and Congresspersons of all sexes smoke cigars.

kurtzz3 on March 25, 2013 at 11:01 PM

They already raised the tax for CHIP….

What they really want is full cigarette tax on those cheap cigarette sized so called little cigars.

I may move to the Caribbean yet and smoke BIG FAT Havanas…

golfmann on March 25, 2013 at 11:28 PM

I’d be happy if they did the same thing to alcohol. Ban beer ads on television. Ban beer companies from sponsoring events.

I will never understand how cigarette companies got the heavy handed treatment when alcohol costs our society a whole hell of a lot more in dollars and emotional pain.

ButterflyDragon on March 25, 2013 at 11:44 PM

If any form of pleasure is exhibited,
report to me and it will be prohibited!
I’ll put my foot down,
so shall it be…
this is the land of the free.

– Groucho Marx, Duck Soup

The Rogue Tomato on March 25, 2013 at 11:49 PM

I have expect them to go after e-cigs next.

eaglescout_1998 on March 26, 2013 at 12:36 AM

Famous Cigar smokers

Groucho Marx 87
Sigmund Freud 83
Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) 75
Milton Berle 94 years
Fidel Castro 86 (still alive)
George Burns 100
Winston Churchill 91
Orson Welles 70 (and obese)

Me

kurtzz3 on March 26, 2013 at 2:05 AM

I don’t smoke, but this kind of government interference makes me want to take it up.

Theophile on March 26, 2013 at 3:54 AM

Monica won’t like this.

Sherman1864 on March 26, 2013 at 4:30 AM

No, but your chance of getting laid does.
lorien1973 on March 25, 2013 at 9:53 PM
Thread winner!!
Right there^^^^^
Dang..
Be back in a moment…
Electrongod on March 25, 2013 at 9:55 PM

Juvenile.

Sherman1864 on March 26, 2013 at 4:32 AM

Just curios. Anyone in your family wear perfume, aftershave, etc.?

riddick on March 25, 2013 at 10:41 PM

He’s whining about controlling others behavior. Poor kid, being born defective and all…ObamaCare will cure him, no doubt. It’s about trumping others rights. “My son is disabled” he shrieks ! unclesmrgol: get over yourself, and your kid already. You rode a heavily subsidized train and surely receive disability payments for your poor son. Why are you killing him living in L.A. ? Have you no shame? Enjoy your phony righteousness, and your gov’t subsidy. BTW, your sick child should not expect a subsidy from tobacco users either. Anecdotes do not equal data.

Jeff2161 on March 26, 2013 at 6:22 AM

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar… unless govt gets involved, then it’s a nicotine delivery system.

Akzed on March 26, 2013 at 8:56 AM

I’ve never forgotten that trip, and when Amtrak finally banned smoking of any type on the train, I was ecstatic. unclesmrgol on March 25, 2013 at 10:11 PM

Huh, so one train ride and you broke out a window and take credit for cigars being banned on trains that couldn’t afford to run without my tax money. And you’re ecstatic about it. There’s so much wrong with all that.

Akzed on March 26, 2013 at 8:59 AM

First they came for the cigarettes…

RadClown on March 26, 2013 at 9:22 AM

Just curios. Anyone in your family wear perfume, aftershave, etc.?

riddick on March 25, 2013 at 10:41 PM

It is very much not the same thing.

He’s whining about controlling others behavior.

Jeff2161 on March 26, 2013 at 6:22 AM

You are an azz. You should try looking around at unclesmrgol’s posts before accusing him of being a liberal parasite. You are neither a conservative nor a libertarian yourself if you believe you have the unfettered right to pollute uncle’s breathing space.

Akzed on March 26, 2013 at 8:59 AM

Ditto what I said to Jeffrey.

GWB on March 26, 2013 at 10:44 AM

As Mark Twain once said…I came into this world asking for a light…I intend to go out blowing smoke rings. Let the FDA try to stop me having my glass of bourbon in one hand and my cigar in the other on Friday and Saturday nights.

logicman_1998 on March 26, 2013 at 11:31 AM

On the other are the convenience-store brands that appeal primarily to young smokers, such as 59-cent blueberry Swisher Sweets, peach-flavored White Owl Cigarillos, Phillies Blunts Sour Apple and menthol Cheyenne “little cigars” that are barely distinguishable from cigarettes.

Saint Trayvon’s favorites! Racists!

slickwillie2001 on March 26, 2013 at 12:43 PM