I’m sure that everyone has heard enough about politics in the past few months to last a lifetime. The presidential election, nationwide protests, and international concerns have filled our newsfeeds and conversations constantly. At Cigar & Whiskey, we vastly prefer to not get political and focus on reviewing great cigars and drinks, however recent FDA regulations have the potential to significantly impact our hobby and we feel our audience should know about it.
Our friends at Famous Smoke Shop recently put together their cigar rights portal. It features a ton of great information on the new FDA regulations and gives information on what we can do to keep it from hurting cigar connoisseurs and retailers. We took a look and wanted to call out a few of the major impacts these regulations can have.
Under new regulations, tobacconists who blend pipe tobacco or put together cigar samplers can be labeled as “manufacturers”. Despite the fact that they had no role in growing or aging the tobacco, and are simply offering it in different configurations to the end user, now they are labeled as much a manufacturer as those who do so.
The reason for this is pretty simple. Manufacturers are subject to many harsher regulations that retailers. From a customer perspective, this has two major negative consequences. First, retailers now have much less incentive to put together their own blends or cigar flights (many of which reflect years of expertise and pairing knowledge. Second, those who do continue the practice will have to raise prices significantly to account for the regulatory burden. In either case, it’s a lose-lose for the tobacconist and the customer.
2. No New Cigars Can Be Introduced Without Prior FDA Approval
Many boutique cigar brands produce amazing stogies, even without pre-existing distribution channels or massive capital investment. Now, it will be much more difficult for new cigars to reach the market because any new cigar must be pre-approved by the FDA. Of course, this process is neither fast nor cheap.
The only brands that will likely be able to shoulder this burden are existing market players, and even then expect to see variety of cigars decrease substantially as each cigar must be able to pull its weight financially in the wake of an onerous approval process.
3. Free Samples Are Banned at Cigar Shops and Events
This one may sound pithy, but the inability for shops/brands to promote new products has major implications. Many smokers fall in love with a family of cigars as a result of a sample had from a rep or store owner, and taking away that ability simply limits exposure to already niche products.
In addition, from a philosophical perspective this also stings. Why limit the ability to market products (even ones that are approved by the FDA) to willing adult buyers? Certainly shady tactics and underage targeting should be squashed, but this regulation does little but hurt boutique brands and keep consumers from trying new product.
There’s a lot more to dive into here, and I hope everyone reading this will take a few seconds to dive into Famous’ portal to learn a few things you can do to help curtail these harmful regulations. And not to worry, we’ll be back soon with some tasty reviews!