Whether cigars should be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration appears headed for a battle on Capitol Hill.
Legislators are considering tax increases on tobacco products, as well as state and local smoking bans. This summer, the FDA announced it was planning to include cigars in its definition of tobacco products.
In response, the Cigar Rights of America – a group that represents smokers and is financially supported by cigar manufacturers and retailers – has registered to lobby Congress to kill FDA oversight of cigars.
The CRA says traditional cigars differ from cigarettes or cheap flavored cigars.
“The very price point of cigars puts them out of the hands of youth,” said Glynn Loope, the CRA’s executive director.
But anti-smoking advocacy groups are pushing back. Forty organizations sent a letter to Congress supporting FDA authority over cigars.
“The reason Congress gave FDA authority is so that the decisions would be made based on facts and science, and not political muscle,” said Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Some lawmakers, including Democratic Senator Bill Nelson from Florida, are proposing to exempt “traditional large and premium cigars” from FDA oversight.