Opinions Vary On Premium Cigar Regulation
About 200 lawmakers have gathered to maintain a House bill that would prevent the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from controlling premium cigars. 2009’s Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTC) gave the FDA the power to control the sales of all tobacco products as part of a big effort to decrease the youth smoking rate.
At that time when the FDA has yet to take control over cigars, a decision is supposed to come this summer. Both premium cigar producers and retailers consider such regulations could demand health warnings on packaging (as is demanded for cigarettes), storage of cigars in separate rooms reachable only to employees, or prohibit tobacco retailers from making sales over the phone or suggesting tobacco products.
In order to avert this Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.) enacted a bill last year seeking to exclude premium cigars from government control, marking premium cigars as unfiltered tobacco products, wrapped in leaf tobacco that weigh more than 6 pounds for every 1,000 cigars.
Rep. Posey’s spokesman said that they do not want FDA to control premium cigars. George Cecala stated that they are the legislative branch and they should decide that.
As the bill is co-funded by 199 Republicans and Democrats alike, not everyone is so united about exempting premium cigars from government control.
In reply to the bill, The Los Angeles Times published an article in defense of FDA control. Though the piece did find that cigarettes are the bigger problem with smoking of teenagers and cigars do not engage this age group, it cited the attractiveness of “fruit and candy” flavored cigars and a research in Maryland that told about a rise in cigar smoking in youth as reasons for the FDA to control. The editors of the Times think that “it would be a shame to see the difficult battle against cigarettes disrupted by increased cigar consumption.”
Anti-smoking groups such as The American Cancer Society and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids as well are opposed to the bill, saying that certain cigar companies could use the legislation to escape control.
Gregg Haifley, a lobbyist for the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, declared that they believe it is wrong public health policy to set up an exemption for an entire category of tobacco products that cause cancer.
While anti-smoking groups and some media outlets might be against the bill, it might surprise many tobacco companies. Cigarette manufacturer Altria Group Inc as well opposes the measure.
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