What does that have to do with Donald Trump? The same thing it has to do with Democratic candidate for President Bernie Sanders. And the Tea Party. And Occupy Wall Street. This Presidential election cycle has demonstrated a clear public distaste for politics as usual. And the FDA's overreach is a perfect example of politics as usual.
"We are the government. We know better than you what us good for you. Now blindly follow us."
The FDA is clearly administered and staffed by fervently anti-tobacco zealots. Who better to regulate the industry than an agency that would love to put it out of business completely and forever? Yet the FDA has assumed this responsibility of its own volition. Again, despite the fact that it is contrary to legislative intent, and opposed by over 300 elected officials who attempted to make it clear, in no uncertain terms, premium cigars should be exempt.
The system, as Donald and Bernie would say, really is rigged.
There is no practical or affordable way to defend against big government overreach like this. Event the CRA is going to have a hard time going up against the FDA. But right now, they are our only hope and we should support them. Not only because our hobby is at risk, but because so is our freedom. And because what's happening here is simply wrong and un-American.
Starting soon, if Padron or Pete Johnson or whoever wants to put out a new product, it must be thoroughly (ridiculously) vetted as though it were a heart medication or opioid pain relief narcotic. The cost for this process? Astronomical. So high and so lengthy and grueling that no small manufacturer could possibly afford it. And this process must be repeated for every new product. Oh yeah, and it's retroactive too.
So what does that mean?
Well, it could mean that smaller manufacturer simply goes out of business, or sells their trademarks to giants like General Cigar and Altadis who presumably have the resources to actually satisfy the FDA regulations--at least, for their most profitable products only. Creativity will be stifled. We'll be back to the pre-boom days when your choices were limited to Macanudo. Partagas and Don Diego.
And the costs of all of this regulation and verification will most certainly be passed onto the consumer. So the cigar brands that are left standing, if any, will go from being a daily pleasure for the most financially fortunate of cigar smokers to an occasional treat, at best. Could an Arturo Fuente become a $20 or $30 product as a result? Could a Davidoff Nicaragua become a $50 or $60 cigar? Quite possibly, especially if it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to undergo FDA scrutiny. Actually, forget the "if." The FDA has already confirmed that it will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars...per application.
Does this sound like sensible regulation, or an attempt by a small group of overly powerful zealots to completely eradicate the country of cigars?
Free samples? Bye bye. They're banned under the FDA.
Cuban cigars? Yes, it seems lately that improving relations with Cuba mean that we could someday see them legalized here. But probably not if the FDA has its way. Cuba will simply elect not to sell their products here at all rather than pay millions of dollars they don't have to certify their products in one lone country.
Then there's the black market this will surely create. Some cigar manufacturers will simply close their US operations, maintain their foreign factories, and refocus their efforts on selling products to the dozens of other countries where cigars are unregulated or minimally regulated. Americans will mail order their Fuentes and Davidoffs and Padrons from Canada or Mexico or Switzerland and have them shipped here under wraps. Just like some Americans do with Cuban cigars. Most will go undetected, unless Customs gets billions in funding to police the illegal importation of cigars.
Customs, by the way, has nothing better to do. Forget global terrorism. Let's concentrate our resources on robustos instead.
The FDA says this is all to help save young people from themselves, because they are 'using' (not 'enjoying') cigars and other products at an "alarming rate." Alarming, huh? How many 15 year olds do you know who are saving their $10 a week allowance for months so they can sneak into the boy's room at school and smoke a Davidoff Double R? Come to think of it, have you EVER seen a cigar store you frequent sell to an underage person? Of course not. Because it doesn't happen. The FDA has manufactured an absurdly complex and almost unworkable solution to a problem that does not exist.
We already live in a nanny state. This only makes it worse. Now is the time to stand up and do whatever you can to put a stop to this, so it doesn't happen to other industries. Livelihoods are at stake. Free markets are at stake. Freedom is at stake. Common sense is at stake. This action by the FDA wraps all that is wrong with America into one greasy ball of stupidity.
Let's make the FDA feel the burn. (Not the Bern.)
Tea Party? It's Cigar Party time. Forget Democrat or Republican. It's time for cigar lovers to unite and be heard. The establishment is too powerful. When government ignores all reasonable avenues to common sense and overrules not only the will of the people, but also the voices of their elected officials, it's time for a change.
Basically, if this stands, the FDA can regulate any product they don't like out of existence by making it too costly and complicated to comply. Bacon, Campbell's soups, you name it.
But let's not move to Canada just yet. The FDA can still be overruled. It's going to be a long and expensive fight but they can be put in their place. Fingers crossed, because America isn't looking like America today.