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CRA Releases Letter on NASEM Findings

March 12, 2022 By Matthew Tabacco

To be quite honest with you, in my opinion, the Cigar Rights of America hasn’t done a great job at communicating things going on in the industry to the public or their members. That’s not to say that they’ve done completely nothing for us, but it would be nice to see some more transparency like we have seen with the Premium Cigar Association. Our CRA membership recently renewed for the year and the letter still contained the signature of Glynn Loope, Who left the CRA over a year ago to join the PCA. Show some more effort CRA.

Having said that, we received an email from the CRA regarding the NASEM report that went out on Thursday morning. Here is what they had to say.

This week, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s (“NASEM”) Committee on Patterns of Use and Health Affects of “Premium Cigars” and Priority Research released their highly anticipated report examining premium cigars.  The resulting report, “Premium Cigars: Patterns of Use, Marketing, and Health Effects”, generated 13 findings, 24 conclusions, and nine priority research recommendations to the Food and Drug Administration.

Cigar Rights of America (“CRA”) wishes to thank NASEM for the completion of their year-long endeavor that resulted in their published report.  CRA participated with NASEM from the start by testifying before their panel committee and submitting comments that embody years of research representing a professional, exhaustive review of the scientific literature.

We are encouraged by a number of findings regarding consumption patterns, frequency of use, inhalation patterns, and distinctions with other tobacco categories that compliment our historic arguments in service of exempting premium hand rolled cigars from FDA deeming regulations.  NASEM reflects this understanding in their finding that concludes, “premium cigars are different than other tobacco products based on usage patterns.”

Moreover, we agree with the premium cigar definition memorialized by this report.    It remains consistent with qualities we affirm best represent the nature of a premium cigar.  We are further pleased by the removal of an economic quantifier that had no precedent at FDA, would have been difficult to enforce, didn’t allow for the complex relationship of retail prices and differing taxes at the national, state, and municipal level, and excluded the majority of the premium cigar market.

CRA continues to have serious concerns with the interpretation of the data and the conclusions drawn with regards to health effects.  It remains the case that premium cigars continue to be conflated with other tobacco products.  We strongly maintain that there is sufficient data and has been since 2014 to conclude that the mortality, morbidity, and youth usage and access experience of premium cigar patrons don’t warrant inclusion in the FDA deeming regulatory framework.  The Population Assessment of Tobacco Health studies and Center for Disease Control youth risk surveys as well as the FDA’s acknowledgement that premium cigars were their lowest enforcement priority due to the lack of youth usage and access issues further underscores this point.

FDA’s proposed deeming of premium cigars has no discernable benefits at the population risk level, tremendous costs that threaten the existence of our industry, and serious unintended consequences for industry and manufacturing nations alike. CRA continues to assert that FDA should exempt premium cigars from their regulatory framework.  At minimum, FDA should suspend any further regulations upon the industry. 

One of the FDA’s key rationales for commissioning NASEM was to assess data that may be used in service of underlying the pre-market tobacco application regime.  The request for 9 areas of further research and the time it takes for completion and analysis ought to coincide with FDA discontinuing any further applications of regulation upon premium cigars.
The CRA Board of Directors commented on this development, “CRA looks forward to continued discussions with Congress and the Administration in service of exempting premium cigars from FDA regulations.    Today’s memorializing of a premium cigar definition was one move in the right direction.”

To view the report, click on the following link – https://www.nationalacademies.org/our-work/health-effects-and-patterns-of-use-of-premium-cigars?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

Sincerely,

The Cigar Rights of America Board

Carlos Fuente (Diamond Sponsor), Arturo Fuente  

Jorge Padron (Diamond Sponsor), Padron Cigars

Rocky Patel (Diamond Sponsor), Rocky Patel Premium Cigars

Cory Bappert (Diamond Sponsor), Oliva Cigar Co.

Sathya Levin (Diamond Sponsor), Ashton Cigars

Drew Newman (Platinum Sponsor), J.C. Newman Cigar Company

Pete Johnson (Platinum Sponsor), Tatuaje Cigars

Alan Ruben (Platinum Sponsor), Alec Bradley Cigars

Gary Pesh (Old Virginia Tobacco Company), Chairperson 

Karen Smith (Arturo Fuente), President

Let’s see communication like this continue from CRA. Even J.C. Newman sent out a response to the letter on Thursday as well, which came at no surprise considering they were the only manufacturer to testify during the course of the writing of this report. Drew Newman, a fourth generation Newman family member and Attorney was the one to speak on behalf of the company.

If you have not read up on the NASM report you should do so, especially if you love Premium Cigar Association. It is definitely good information for you to be aware of to understand what this conversation is about and how it affects all of us moving forward with the FDA and its regulations.

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