Do you, like me, enjoy the occasional (or not so occasional) cigar after a long day of work?

Well, thanks to the Food and Drug Administration, that simple pleasure could become much more expensive. Your favorite cigar brand might even cease to exist.

That’s because of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which was passed back in 2009 but is just starting to take effect. The bill – a “nuclear bomb,” the industry calls it – is supposed to keep minors from buying cigars, something they already legally can’t (and generally don’t) do.

I’m sure there are some teens out there who smoke cigars, but this isn’t the norm. Cigars are different than cigarettes, as consultant David Bufkin recently wrote in the Federalist.

“You don’t inhale them. They aren’t addictive. I have never seen people huddling in the rain and snow outside an office building to smoke a cigar. And health risks are minimal for the vast majority of cigar smokers. The FDA itself recently reported there are minimal health risks associated with smoking two cigars a day,” Bufkin wrote.

None of that stopped the FDA from imposing new regulations on cigar-makers. And you can bet these costly regulations will increase the price of cigars.

For starters, Big Tobacco was successful in getting some of the “user fees” it pays to the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products offset onto the cigar industry — to the tune of $574 million dollars in 2017. The new rules dictate the cigar industry will provide 9 percent of the funding for the center, which used to be paid by cigarette companies.

New regulations also make creating new products more difficult, costly and time-consuming. Cigars that were not on the market prior to Feb. 15, 2007, will have to be rigorously tested, which could take up to three years for each new cigar. The cigar blog Half Wheel estimates this will add up to $20,000 in overall costs to any new product.

Oh, and cigar boxes will also be required to have large warning labels that cover at least 30 percent of two different surfaces. Factor in the additional cost of printing these labels for all the different sizes and shapes and you’re looking at some serious price increases. And remember, the FDA recognizes that there are minimal health risks to smoking cigars, but they’ll need these massive warning labels anyway.

Gary Johnson: 'The Republican Party is going to die'

Also from the Washington Examiner

Johnson’s goal is bringing about “the death of the two-party system. This is a rigged game.”

10/07/16 3:41 PM

In addition, cigar companies will have to hire lawyers to navigate the new regulations (there’s always a win for lawyers in these bills).

The regulations also make things a lot more difficult for premium cigar manufacturers. These are hand-rolled cigars (as opposed to machine-made), and constitute a small fraction of all cigar sales in the U.S.

America imported 315 million premium cigars in 2015, about one per resident. Meanwhile, as Bufkin wrote, a total of 12 billion cigars are sold in the U.S. annually.

“These new FDA rules are more than a nuisance,” Bufkin wrote. “They are potentially fatal to the premium cigar industry as we know it, and to the culture of handmade cigar-smoking so many of us now enjoy. Almost inevitably, manufacturers will massively consolidate. Altria [which owns Philip Morris] itself owns one of the lower-end, machine-made cigar companies, John Middleton.

“Industry insiders suggest they and other Big Tobacco units will go on a buying spree, snapping up distressed premium companies. Customers can expect lower quality and less innovation.”

Obama: Confident but 'not overconfident' Clinton will win

Also from the Washington Examiner

“Whatever your issue, the stakes could not be higher,” he added.

10/07/16 3:15 PM

Maybe you’re not a cigar smoker and don’t care that cigars will be more expensive or rare. Okay, but these regulations will have a ripple effect on other parts of the world. The Dominican Republic, for example, would see economic problems if the U.S. continues to implement this new rule, since the country has a booming cigar industry.

The only way to stop this rule is for Congress to step up, but that will be tough given how much money Big Tobacco donates. There is at least one congressman who recognizes how terrible these new regulations are: Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla. In an interview with the Washington Examiner‘s Rudy Takala, Posey discussed his proposal to exempt premium cigars from these new regulations.

“The last time they came out with new regulations for cigars, they closed every cigar factory in Florida but one,” Posey said, adding that this could close that last one, too.

He said teenagers don’t smoke premium cigars, but the FDA has decided to impose this on them anyway. He also noted how free cigars will no longer be sent to our troops overseas due to their health hazards (again, remember that the FDA found only minimal health risks to smoking cigars).

“So we have our young men and women in uniform, in war, where they can be killed or maimed, but it’s too dangerous for them to enjoy the simple pleasures of a premium cigar,” Posey said.

Nice one, FDA.

Ashe Schow is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.

Obama: I'm confident but 'not overconfident' Clinton will win

Top Story

“Whatever your issue, the stakes could not be higher,” he added.

10/07/16 3:15 PM

Source link

About the Author:

Leave a Reply