Dan Holler

Clearly, the intent of Congress was never to regulate premium cigar manufacturers, nor did they consider youth use of premium cigars a concern. Nonetheless, the Act could be used to regulate them anyway. How? Retailers could not display brands in their stores. Walk in humidors could be banned. Advertising could be curtailed. New, seasonal and vintage blends could be increasingly difficult to bring to market. The list goes on.

For premium cigar manufacturers, like Newman, that could be the end of the line. And it’s not just hyperbolic scare tactics. Newman’s 125 employees understand the precedent has already been set.

Those absurd regulations exist today in Canada, and some groups are pushing the FDA to follow that model, which would put premium cigar companies out of business, period. Just two years ago, Hav-A-Tampa closed its doors – doors that first opened in 1902 – and the city of Tampa saw nearly 500 jobs disappear because Congress increased taxes on cigars by 700% to pay for an unrelated health problem.

Congress should learn from its mistakes.

The Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2011 (H.R.1639/S.1461) would prevent the FDA from regulating premium cigars under the Tobacco Control Act. It is not a handout or a bailout; it’s just a bipartisan bill that reflects the original intent of Congress. Representatives Bill Posey (R-FL) and Kathy Castor (D-FL) led the way, and despite coming under intense scrutiny from certain groups, they have built some amazing bipartisan support inside of Congress: 127 Representatives (25 Democrats, 101 Republicans) and 4 Senators (2 Democrats, 2 Republicans).

Representative Posey summed it up nicely: “It shows a breakdown in common sense in Washington that an Act of Congress is needed to rein in a federal bureaucracy from threatening thousands of jobs and decimating the premium cigar industry. Such regulation ignores the self-evident and well known distinctions of the premium cigar market, with its own artisan tradition, cultural niche, and customers from other tobacco products that Congress specifically authorized the FDA to regulate.”

If Congress could only adopt some commonsense, perhaps job creators wouldn’t be regulated out of business and Congress’s approval ratings just might break double digits.

Dan Holler

Dan Holler is the Communications Director for Heritage Action for America. Previously, he held numerous positions at The Heritage Foundation, most recently he was the Senate Relations Deputy. A Maryland native, he is a graduate of Washington College.