The International Implications for Regulating Cigars

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Then there are issues close to home. As the border issue began to make news cycles here in the U.S. and the implications and association with our issue of cigar regulation started to become clear, news spread that children in Honduras were being affected.

To highlight what this means, the ambassador of Honduras to the United States, the Honorable Jorge Alberto Milla Reyes, noted, “There are, indeed, international trade and economic implications with regulating cigars from Honduras and throughout Latin America. The government of Honduras values the investment and source of employment provided by the premium cigar industry and knows well how it provides for over 35,000 families in Honduras and 300,000 in the region. We cannot underestimate how this contributes to the stability, especially at this time of concern over issues such as immigration and security.”

All of this informs us that this issue is bigger than most imagined. Major multinational corporations are used to playing this game. They are accustomed to courting the government for what they want, opposing what they do not and, most of the time, getting their way. The opposition groups have their tactics down to the push of a button in order to unleash their questionable science and distorted “facts” onto a mass media market more than willing to regurgitate their version of the issue.

Our side exists in a world of craftsmen, farmers and rollers with the hands of a Rembrandt or Picasso. They are not purveyors of nicotine, nor a harm to the public at large. Our world is one of camaraderie, fellowship, solitude and reflection—with our art in hand. That is a message to defend.

While we will not speculate on any judicial action, the ability of Congress to protect the industry is clear. They must advance the exemption language from regulations adopted on July 12, 2017, by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations and strive for a means to make that exemption permanent.

We are calling for every manufacturer, retail tobacconist and consumer in America to contact their two United States Senators and congressperson. Visit their district offices, call the local office and the Washington office, and voice your disapproval of the cigar regulations. Invite them to local cigar shops, and host a cigar town hall. Tell them to support HR 662/SB 441 and the actions of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations that call for “no funding for FDA actions against premium cigars.” Let’s make the rest of 2017 the turning point in this debate.

– Contributed by J. Glynn Loope, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Cigar Rights of America.

This story first appeared in the September/October 2017 issue of Tobacco Business magazine. Members of the tobacco industry are eligible for a complimentary subscription to our magazine. Click here for details.