Category Archives: News

A Short Story, a Big Payback and a Couple Rocky Patel Fifty-Five Cigars

Fuente_ShortStory_MaduroFinally over the sinus thing for the most part, I trust my taste buds again, without question, and I know this because I smoked a Fuente Short Story maduro Thursday that was just a wonderful little cigar. I’ve had this in my humidor for a while, I figured since I just got some maduro Best Sellers, and I got off to a late start, this 4″ x 49 perfecto would be perfect. The Short Story has been around for as long as I can remember, which, in cigar terms, is a little over 20 years. It’s a cigar my wife would smoke when she enjoyed cigars. Back then it was just in the Cameroon wrapper, and is still a delicious cigar. The maduro has a broadleaf wrapper and has a little “dirtier” flavor to me, which I love. It’s rich, earthy and dark chocolaty. I have various Hemingways in my humidor, it seems I buy the maduros when I stop in Holt’s, they always seem to have them. It’s amazing how the Fuentes can make a cigar that tastes the same over the last  years! One odd note on the Short Story: while the rest of the Hemingway line has “Hemingway” on the boxes, the Short Story does not, yet it’s listed under that line on Fuente’s website.

 

BigPaybackFriday I was in the mood for a substantial cigar, so I went with a Room 101 Big Payback Hueso, the 6″ x 60 gordo in the line. I picked some of these up last summer when I was at Cigars International’s downtown Bethlehem store when Matt Booth was hanging out there. Ironically, I was listening to Matt on Kiss My Ash Radio while enjoying this cigar. I was a little bit behind, so the episode was two weeks old. Any time Matt appears on any show it’s a treat, full of surprises, he’s a hoot. Unfortunately, Matt is leaving the cigar industry and Davidoff is reportedly selling of the cigar under the Room 101 brand. the Big Payback line is/was a budget friendly line, a Nicaraguan Puro rolled in Honduras. I really like these cigars, in both the Nicaraguan wrapper and the Ecuador Connecticut wrapper, it’s a solid cigar that I find very appealing. I just got a box (10) of the Uncle Lee, I suppose I need to put some more of the Big Paybacks on the shopping list before they are gone for good. It’s a great cigar for a little over $6.

 

Yesterday my wife and daughter wanted to do some shopping at the King of Prussia Mall, one of the largest malls in the country and only fifteen minutes down the road.  One of my favorite things about shopping with my wife is that I can let her shop while I go to International Tobacco and sit and have a cigar. It usually ends up being a very costly cigar, but that’s OK.  Yesterday the selection was RP 55 Coronakinda slim, and the humidor tends to the classic side, without a lot of boutiques, they do have Davidoff, Padron, and many of the usual suspects. They have a coffee bar with soft drinks and are generally quite hospitable and friendly. I usually look for something I haven’t had, of course, so I picked up a couple of the Rocky Patel Fifty-Five, a “Corona” (4″ x 55) and a Toro for later. Since the Fifty-Five is inexplicably not listed on the website, I linked to Famous Smoke Shop’s listing for this, and would like to direct you to the new ad in the right sidebar. If you make a habit of shopping at Famous, click through the ad and maybe I’ll make a little dough on the side to support my “research”. They also offer a discount code, so we both win. Anyway, I lit up the pudgy little perfecto and was intrigued with the flavor. They say this cigar has Nicaraguan fillers and wrapper, and a Costa Rican binder, which you don’t see every day. RP 55 Corona-damageI got a mintyness throughout the smoke that was different and enjoyable. Unfortunately, there was a bit of chip at the cap of the cigar that I didn’t notice which resulted in the wrapper coming off completely with about an inch and a half left. I probably could have gotten a replacement if I had let the shopkeeper cut it for me, but I’m a DIY kinda guy and carry my own tools, so I didn’t press the issue. I haven’t had this kind of thing happen in a very long time, and I don’t expect it from a $9+ cigar. (As I write this, I think of the last time I wrote this and it was about another RP cigar….bad luck, I guess). Verdict: loved the flavor, hated the fact that the wrapper came off and I had to mess with it at all.

 

RockyPatel_Fifty-five_ToroSo intrigued by the flavor of the little 4″ x 55 “Corona” was I  that I look my evening walk with the Toro version of the Rocky Patel Fifty-Five. I suppose I should get one of these for my own 55th birthday in a year and a half, these were made to celebrate Rocky’s 55th birthday. As 55 is an unusual ring gauge for a cigar, I suspect a lot went into making these with special molds and all. The Rocky Patel Fifty-Five Toro is 6 ½” x 55, and has the same make-up as the little guy, both cigars have a bit of a taper at each end, which in my mind puts them into the perfecto category. I gave the Toro a much closer inspection, I certainly didn’t want to repeat the experience I had earlier in the day. I was pleased to find no flaws in this cigar, although the draw was a little on the restricted side until it got going. I found the same mintyness, with an occasional minty-cinnamonyness here and there. It was very intriguing to me, it’s so rare that I encounter an unusual flavor in a cigar any more.  While I wasn’t thrilled dropping north of $11 on a cigar, this one really didn’t bother me, I found it so interesting and special. I also don’t mind spending a few bucks in a local shop that provides the service of “husband day-care” while the better half shops, if people don’t spend money there it won’t be around!

 

In some news, I received an e-mail from Gaby Kafie of Kafie 1901 Cigars announcing that they are opening, or have opened, their own factory,  “Tabacalera G. Kafie y Cia”,  in Danli, Honduras. They were previously working with the Reyes family’s factory, having their cigars made along side such classics as Puros Indios and Cuba Aliados. Last year, Dr. Kafie introduced the Kafie 1901 Coffee with proceeds going to Cigar Rights of America.  Best of luck to Dr. Kafie and his family, I know he has a strong passion and hope he has few obstacles to success. Also of note is General Cigar Company‘s announcement that they will be adding Temple Hall Estates to their Foundry division’s FTC Heritage Series. the original Temple Hall Factory opened in Jamaica in the ’40s, and the Connecticut shade wrapped cigar will pay homage to that factory. This line joins the re-imagined Bolivar and Ramon Allones brands in the Foundry line-up. Will Cooper has the full story here.

 

That’s all for now, until the next time,

 

CiagrCraig

 

 

 

 

 

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Cigar News featuring Diamond Crown, Big Papi, Psyko Seven and Montecristo

Happy Thanksgiving to all my U.S. readers! Today will be filled with food and family here in a few hours, so I’m going to be real lazy and put out a post with a bunch of news items that have recently come across my desk (and I slacked off last night and didn’t get a post out). I hope everyone has a great day!

 

Diamond Crown

Diamond Crown Black Diamond Box Open Emerald

First up is the long-awaited release from J.C. Newman, the Diamond Crown Black Diamond. This has been in the works for years, I’ve heard stories of how they settled on a blend, then tweaked it again, and finally have it ready for release tomorrow, Black Friday.  What a coincidence to be releasing the Black Diamond on Black Friday! Something tells me there was some thought put into that.  Anyway, I’m anxious to get my hands on this, I’ve got two Diamond Crown Lounges within about a ten-mile radius so I should be able to find one. I fondly remember smoking my first Diamond Crown in Las Vegas in 1998, good stuff, I can’t wait to try this one.

 

Big Papi

Next we have news from El Artista about the launch of the Big Papi, a cigar that I have on hand and will be smoking in the very near future, along with some other goodies from the company.

 

DAVID ORTIZ MAKES HIS FIRST “BIG PAPI” CIGAR EVENT APPEARANCE

(New York City) – El Artista Cigars hosted the first event featuring David “Big Papi” Ortiz at Central Bar & Lounge in New York City on November 3, 2016. Over 200 were in attendance including pitcher Cici Sabathia, premium cigar shop owners from all over the country, as well as fans, friends, and family of David Ortiz and El Artista. “This is a celebration to recognize the hard work everyone has put into the launch of this new line,” says Radhames Rodriguez, President of El Artista Cigars, “and we are very happy to see everyone enjoying the cigar.”

David OrtizDavid Ortiz was the star of the party. He signed cigar boxes and hats and took photos with partygoers. Jonas Santana, Marketing Manager for El Artista Cigars states, “David will be at several events in the US in 2017, this is just the first of many to come.” El Artista expects Mr. Ortiz will make appearances in California, New York, New Hampshire, Florida, Dominican Republic, and elsewhere before IPCPR 2017. According to El Artista management, “David is all in for Big Papi events and he is committed to the brand 100%; expect big things from Big Papi in 2017.”

El Artista will hold a series of in-store tastings as well as meet & greet events featuring David Ortiz in 2017. The schedule will be posted on the El Artista website: http://elartistacigars.com/

 

Psyko Seven

Psyko Seven is a cigar I really like, in both the original natural wrapper and the maduro, which, of course, I prefer. I look forward to trying this Connecticut as I do enjoy a good Connecticut from time to time.

 

VENTURA CIGAR COMPANY INTRODUCES CONNECTICUT TO THE PSYKO SEVEN COLLECTION
November 2016 – Inviting cigar aficionados to “Reach into the Dark to Find the Light,” Ventura Cigar is pleased to reveal PSyKo Seven Connecticut, the third blend in its much-admired PSyKo Seven Collection.

 

PSyKo Seven Connecticut is expertly crafted in the Dominican Republic with an exclusive blend of premium of seven tobaccos. It sits apart from others in the PSyKo Seven collection with its lighter wrapper, serving up a more mild-bodied experience. This smooth cigar invites enthusiasts to disconnect from chaos and commotion, to take a step back from the reality of the everyday, and enjoy a rich, flavorful experience.

 

Housed in a sleek, black box, and enveloped with a white prescription form that encourages people to “medicate their mind,” there are three vitolas available: Robusto 4.75 x 50, the Toro 6.25 x 48, and the Gordo 6.00 x 60.

 

“The PSyKo Seven Collection has enjoyed a lot of attention,” says Jason Carignan, Chief Marketing Officer at Ventura Cigar Company. “It’s known for offering up high quality sticks at a great price, earning 90+ ratings from top cigar publications. It’s a favorite of both the retailer and the consumer, so we added PSyKo Seven Connecticut to round out the line, and give our enthusiasts more to explore, and more to connect with.”

 

A solid choice to pair with friends and family, PSyKo Seven Connecticut will enrich and relax holiday festivities with a post-meal smoke and a dram of whiskey. All three vitolas will be shipping to retailers in late November. Please visit venturacigar.com for additional information.

 

Montecristo

Finally we have another in a long list of collaborations with A.J. Fernandez, this time Monticristo is introducing a JR Cigars exclusive.

 

Montecristo Crafted by A. J. Fernandez

 

Burlington, NC – Santa Clara, Inc. is beginning broader distribution of the newly introduced Montecristo Crafted by A. J. Fernandez line of cigars. Montecristo Crafted by A.J. Fernandez is collaboration between the Altadis U.S.A. Montecristo brand and Tabacalera Fernandez and is being crafted exclusively for Santa Clara, Inc.

 

Made in Nicaragua from the finest Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, San Andres binder, and Nicaraguan and Honduran filler, this box-pressed, oscuro-wrapped cigar is an eye-catching masterpiece.

 

An icon, Montecristo has been the benchmark for luxury and quality since 1935. With this long tradition of excellence, the Montecristo name can only be entrusted to craftsmen capable of building on this proud legacy. A. J. Fernandez has been chosen by Altadis U.S.A. to add his name to the history of the Montecristo brand for this new, exclusive cigar.

 

A. J. Fernandez began his career creating cigars for some of the biggest names in the industry before launching his own brands. His brands developed a cult following among cigar aficionados. And his factory, which began with just 6 rollers, now produces over 9 million sticks a year.

 

The Montecristo Crafted by A. J. Fernandez is available in five sizes – Churchill 7 x 50, Figurado 4 x 52, Gordo 6 x 58, Robusto 5 x 52 and Toro 6 x 50, with MSRPs ranging from $9.95 to $12.50 and in box counts of 10 cigars – and delivers a range of bold flavors from sweet to savory with notes and nuances of dark cocoa, espresso, leather and licorice.

 

“We are extremely proud to deliver to the market this collaborative project between two exciting entities. The blend they put together really makes a statement for both companies and I can’t wait to hear the customers reaction”, said Rob Norris, President of Santa Clara.

 

Montecristo Crafted by A.J. Fernandez will be available to the public on December 1, 2016 at www.jrcigars.com.

 

That’s all for today.  I hope to enjoy something special today after the dust (and dinner) settles. Not sure what that might be yet, but I’ve got all day to think about it and thankful to have plenty to choose from!

 

Until the next time,

CigarCraig

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The Irony of Friday’s Executive Order Regarding Cuban Cigars

Since I managed to catch a cold, and can neither taste anything, nor even really have a desire to smoke a cigar, I figured today I would write about Friday’s executive order and how I think it’s weird. Let’s go back to January 2015, which is when President Obama, by executive order, made it legal for U.S. citizen, traveling to Cuba directly, to legally bring back $100 in cigars and alcohol. This was a big deal, as it had been illegal to spend money on Cuban goods of any kind, anywhere, for 52 years. I personally know several people who went to Cuba on “people to people” trips (toured cigar factories) and came home with their allotment, and that’s cool. Of course, the general public only read the headlines and deluged cigar retailers with questions about Cuban cigars. Remember, the year prior, the FDA released their deeming documents on regulating cigars that had everyone up in arms about the future of the premium cigar industry. I thought about taking a trip to Cuba, BTW, but for the money it would cost, I could go to Nicaragua twice and have as good a time. I know, it’s Cuba and it will change when the embargo is lifted and not be the back-in-time workers paradise it is now (sorry, my sarcasm filter broke there for a bit),  but I can’t justify the cost. Back to the subject at hand…

 

Starting Monday, October 17, 2016, it will now be perfectly legal to buy and bring into the US, Cuban cigars and rum, and, presumably, other Cuban goods (cite here). The quantities are limited by US Customs, I think there’s an $800 limit before you have to pay duties, and they can only be for personal use, not for resale. No container loads allowed.  That means don’t go calling up your local retailer asking if they are selling Cubans! Believe me, they will get tired of it. So, in a couple of weeks when I am in Reykjavik, Iceland I can buy Cuban cigars and legally bring them back, which I don’t expect to do, as I imagine they will be stupidly expensive. So this news is great for the uneducated, entitled, douchebag who has been smoking his fake Cohibas exclusively because they are the best in the world. Sorry if I offend any of the uneducated, entitled, douchebags reading…actually, no, I’m not.  Remember that 2014 FDA deeming document? Back in May, the FDA ignored all the comments that they were legally bound to read and respond to, ignored all the congressmen and senators who said regulating premium cigars wasn’t their intention in the Tobacco Control act, and went right ahead and imposed worse restrictions on premium cigars that they do on cigarettes! As a result, thousands of Americans will potentially be out of business, many of whom are our friends, not to mention tens of thousands of people in the cigar producing countries in the Caribbean and Central America, people already living in poverty. The president of the Dominican Republic has asked Mr. Obama to do something about the FDA thing, because of the economic harm it will do to his country, and the answer is allowing (and encouraging) the largest cigar market on the planet to buy unregulated, un-taxed cigars (from a communist country with human rights violations out the yingyang, no less)? So lets plunge five or six countries who rely on cigars further into third world country status, so we can normalize Cuban relations by letting people buy their luxury goods? It just makes no logical sense. Now, when it is legal to sell Cuban cigars in the US and they can tax them and subject them to all the FDA fees and regulations that the Cubans won’t pay anyway…wait, it still makes no sense. How else can I point out the absurdity of simultaneously supporting a communist regime, and making it impossible for legitimate businesses who have been legally participating in the American economy to continue? It irritates me that friend’s businesses get destroyed while people lose their shit buying Cuban cigars in other countries. Way to support small business in America!

 

I could keep going, and I realize that premium cigars represent only 0.1% of the tobacco industry in the US, but that’s a 0.1% I happen to care about, and have a lot of friends who put food in their children’s mouths as a result. Please go to CigarRights.org and sent your elected officials a letter, it’s the least you  can do, and might just help and certainly can’t hurt. Remember, you still can’t sell Cuban Cigars in the US, you still can’t order them online, but the customs folks can’t take those five Cuban Montecristos out of your shirt pocket and throw them in the trashcan anymore. The whole situation is offensive to people making better cigars and trying to save their livelihood.

 

On a more pleasant note, if you’re a fan of Sam Leccia, wrestling, or both, check out MarkOutRadio.com (NSFW) tonight, Sunday, October 16, 2016, at 5:00 Eastern where Sam will be a guest on the show.

 

That’s more than enough from me for today, until the next time (when I can taste things and enjoy some fine cigars, maybe I’ll smoke a pre-executive order contraband cigar and be a rebel!),

 

CigarCraig

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A Special Guest Article and a New Partagas and Joya de Nicaragua

I’m going to lead off with this great article Dan Colley wrote with some of his insight into the new regulations from his time working for the FDA. This covers the importation procedures, I’m hoping he offers more thoughts on the implementation of the regulations at a later date.

 

Many of you are likely familiar with my name. I am Dan Colley and have been a reader of and commenter to the CigarCraig blog for quite some time. What you may not know is that I am a retired Investigator and Compliance Officer for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). I left the Agency in the mid-1990s for work in the private sector. I have been retired now for about fifteen years I’ve been a cigar smoker since about 1967.

 

As someone who worked daily with the many requirements of the FDA, I have become intimately familiar with the import requirements that the law has put into place for many regulated products, from foods and drugs to medical devices, cosmetics and even tobacco products. The recent regulations that FDA has been charged with enforcing contain requirements that are new to the tobacco industry and I would like to provide you with some information about how those requirements will impact you, the cigars that you love to smoke and the tobacco industry in general.

 

It is important to know that the FDA and the U.S. Customs Service (Customs) work very closely together to enforce the various laws that regulate imports. Customs was first mainly interested in the collection of import tariffs, but as time has passed, they have joined their efforts with other Federal agencies who have authority over imported products. For example, the FDA has authority over foods, human drugs, animal drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, and tobacco that extend beyond taxes and tariffs. The procedures for allowing these products into the U.S. legally are essentially the same with very few differences.

 

I would like to briefly explain the physical process that imported products go through before entry into the U.S. The first thing that must occur when a foreign manufacturer wishes to import cigars into this country is that they make a declaration to the FDA and to Customs that a shipment is heading for the U.S. That declaration will usually tell those agencies what the shipment consists of, how it is arriving, where it will be offered for entry into the US and who the involved parties are. Typically, foreign manufacturers will use companies that consolidate shipments for ease and economy of transportation. When these freight consolidators are involved, they will make the required notifications to the U.S. agencies.

 

When the shipment arrives in the U.S., it is moved directly to what is called a bonded warehouse where it is held for government inspection. The consignee does not have access to the shipment at this point. Once the agencies are notified, policy dictates which path the shipment will follow.

 

There are several paths that are possible for these shipments to take. For example, some are merely “rubber-stamped” and allowed to proceed to the consignee without any action. This occurs when the agency has a long and successful relationship with the product and the manufacturer and has every reason to believe that the products comply with all requirements. That assumption is always based on historical data and not merely presumption.

 

Another path that imported products may follow is that of a simple examination. In cases like this, an inspector will go to the bonded warehouse and physically examine the shipment to see if it is what it is supposed to be and in the case of perishable items, the shipment is in good shape and not visually contaminated or adulterated. If no problems are identified, the inspector will file his paperwork with the FDA and the products is then released and may proceed to the consignee.

 

Since cigars do not meet the classic definition of “perishable goods”, they are primarily involved with what inspectors call a “paper chase”. Cigars require pre-market approval unless they were manufactured before the date that governing regulations were put into place, so it is not usually necessary to examine them for adulteration unless there is obvious physical damage to the shipment (eg: water damage, crushing, etc.). All the agency must do is verify that the cigars are either approved for sale in the U.S. or are ones that are “grandfathered” as being manufactured before the regulations became law. This is principally a paper exercise. FDA will review filings made by the manufacturer and will also examined specimens of the labels on the product to assure that they meet the requirements of the regulations. If they do, FDA releases the products. If they don’t, they enter the detention cycle.

 

The detention cycle can be involved and I will not delve into it very far. I will say that there are only a few possibilities for products caught up in this cycle. First, they can be denied entry outright and returned to the entity who shipped it. Another possibility is that the product may be reconditioned, if possible. This applies mainly to products with labeling non-conformances in which they may be brought into compliance by simply applying different labeling. There are other possibilities, but they are not generally applicable in the situation of cigars.

 

This rigorous inspection cycle will lead to a variety of other consequences as well. I’ve been told of people who order Cuban cigars from European retailers. They report that the shipments of contraband cigars arrive at their mailbox without any difficulty. This is likely because the shipper has a good relationship with U.S. Customs and its products proceed without examination. Now, with essentially every lot of imported cigars being examined as a result of the new regulations, this practice will likely come to a halt. Once an inspector sees “made in Cuba” on a box of cigars, all bets will be off. (Editor’s note: Many shipments of contraband cigars are not declared as cigars)

 

The bottom line is that if a cigar does not meet the letter of the law, it will not be allowed into the country. The process for making a cigar “legal” for domestic consumption is quite tedious and has not yet been completely defined by the FDA, but we can be assured, sadly, that it will be difficult and expensive for cigar manufacturers to import new blends of cigars into the country.

 

I hope that this has been enlightening for you. Since I have been away from FDA for quite some time, there are likely some differences in what they do with respect to regulated products, but I have learned from some former cronies who are still with the agency that the procedures remain essentially unchanged over the past 20 years.

 

Thank you Dan for that insiders look at the process! I think this is timely considering recent reports of cigar shipments being opened by customs, whole bundles of cigars cut in half and shipped on to the recipient as if nothing happened. Does it seem right for a government agency to destroy legal property and send it on with out so much as an apology? How is a retailer supposed to sell cigars that have been damaged like that, and they can’t return them for credit. This is where the new regulations are going to effect retailer’s bottom lines first.

 

Partagas_Ramon_y_Ramon_Single_Cigar EditI have a couple of IPCPR samples I wanted to talk about, first being the Partagas Ramon y Ramon Robusto. This line pays homage to Ramon Cifuentes, the founder of the Partagas brand, and uses tobacco that was grown in the Dominican Republic from vintage seeds from General Cigar’s library of seeds. The agronomists at General developed a process to regenerate these vintage seeds, and, if I recall, it takes several growing cycles to get a usable crop of tobacco with the right characteristics. The filler is composed of this special, old world tobacco, Nicaraguan Jalapa and Dominican Piloto Cubano, with a Dominican binder and a high priming Cameroon wrapper. This was one of the most interesting and enjoyable cigars I’ve smoked in a very long time. There was a spicy cinnamon flavor throughout the smoke which just kept making me think “wow, this is a delicious cigar!”. The burn and draw were perfect and the cigar had that signature round cap that General Cigar likes to use. This robusto’s size is a bit of a departure from the standard 5½” x 49 Partagas robusto, as they took the ring gauge up to 50. This a great smoke and the list price is in the $7.49-$8.99 range, very reasonable for a terrific cigar. Can you tell I was impressed? Photo is from General’s press kit, it was much better than mine!

 

JoyadeNicaragua_Joya Black_ToroAfter a visit to a newer local store, which I found to be rather lack-luster, with a poorly executed floor-plan and dirty and shabby lounge (although the company and the La Galera El Lector, a 6″x 54 toro which was really nice, but I failed to pay much attention to it), I had to break out the new Joya Black from Joya de Nicaragua. They are branding this along with the Joya Red and have re-branded the doble capa Cabinetta to fit the same design scheme. I’ve been looking forward to trying this San Andrés wrapped cigar since I heard about it. I probably could have chosen a better time when the ambient humidity wasn’t over 80%, as the cigar smokes a bit on the wet side. It had a great flavor though, I’ll be getting my hands on some more to smoke at the right moisture level. It was everything I want in a maduro, less the steamy smoke quality. Unfortunately, you can’t tell if a cigar needs to be dry boxed until it’s too late. Going back to the local shop I visited, it’s a shame that the owners of this chain did what I consider to be a half-assed job with this store. It’s in an area where an upscale, classy shop would do well, and it’s got more of a 7-Eleven feel to it. I hate to be so critical, but I was really disappointed in the place, but not surprised, based on some of the other stores in the chain. I’m sure my harsh criticism will be unpopular with certain people. On a positive note, the pricing was fine, the selection was not bad, although rather “safe”, and the cigar I bought and smoked there smoked well, despite the “store as a humidor” model (I wonder about the practicality of having a door to the outside directly into the humidified space, often they have to overcompensate for this and the cigars are wet).

 

That’s more than enough for now, I thought about breaking this up into two posts, but I am far to lazy for that on a Sunday morning. Until the next time,

 

CigarCraig

 

 

 

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IPCPR, CAA & CRA File Lawsuit Against FDA Today

I don’t usually post press releases, but I thought this one was important enough to pass along. Posted from my phone, so pardon the formatting.

Three major cigar and tobacco industry associations file suit against FDA’s deeming rule

CAA, IPCPR, & CRA ask District Court of Washington D.C. for declaratory injunction

For Immediate Release: July 15, 2016

WASHINGTON D.C. – The three major cigar and tobacco industry associations filed suit Thursday against the United States Food and Drug Administration’s “Deeming Rule.” The Cigar Association of America, International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association, and the Cigar Rights of America are asking the District Court for the District of Columbia for a declaratory injunction “vacate, set aside and enjoin the enforcement of the final rule” because it is violates numerous federal statutes as well as the federal rulemaking process. A full copy of the filing, which details nine counts against the FDA and the United States Department of Health and Human Services, can be found here (note: the link was not included in either press release I received).

“Just over one month ago, our three associations pledged to work together to develop the appropriate response to the FDA’s new deeming rule. After a thorough and detailed legal review, we are challenging this unlawful regulatory action in federal court to protect the statutory and constitutional rights of our industry and its members. The fact that all three of our organizations are acting in one voice speaks to the urgency and seriousness of this action,” said Mark Pursell, CEO of the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association.

The complaint challenges:

  • FDA’s improper application of the February 15, 2007 grandfather date to cigars and pipe tobacco, which subjects those products to more intrusive regulations than cigarettes and smokeless tobacco
  • FDA’s impermissible assessment of a tax in the form of user fees, and its allocation of these user fees only to cigars and pipe tobacco and not to other newly deemed products
  • FDA’s failure to perform an adequate cost-benefit analysis to take into account the effects of the Final Rule on small businesses as is required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act
  • FDA’s unjustified decision to require cigar health warning labels to be 30% of the two principal display panels of packages
  • FDA’s unlawful designation of tobacconists who blend finished pipe tobacco or create cigar samplers of finished cigars as “manufacturers,” which subjects those businesses to greater regulation than if they were “retailers”
  • FDA’s incorrect decision to regulate pipes as “components” or “parts” rather than as “accessories”

“The FDA ignored the law to craft these expansive and sweeping regulations and cannot justify many of the arbitrary and capricious regulations it purports to enact,” said Glynn Loope, Executive Director of Cigar Rights of America. “This lawsuit is a specific and detailed challenge to the FDA’s unprecedented assertion of rulemaking authority. “We are acting in one voice to protect the legal rights of our industry at all levels, from the manufacturer, the community retail tobacconist, to the adult patrons of cigars.”

Speaking about the lawsuit, Cigar Association of America President Craig Williamson said, “We all worked in good faith to inform and educate the FDA on the unique nature of our industry, its members and our consumers. We hoped the FDA would craft a flexible regulatory structure that accounted for the uniqueness of our industry. Instead, we got a broad, one-size-fits-all rule that fails to account for how cigars and premium cigars are manufactured, distributed, sold and consumed in the United States. The FDA exceeded its statutory authority and violated the federal rulemaking process when crafting this set of broad and sweeping regulations. This challenge asserts nine violations of federal law and rulemaking authority. We are asking the court to enjoin the enforcement of this unlawful regulatory scheme. We are confident that when the court reviews our case on its merits, we will prevail.”

Thanks to the CAA, IPCPR and CRA for their efforts to save the premium cigar industry.

Until the next time,

CigarCraig

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