Issue link: http://www.e-digitaleditions.com/i/706092
50 SMOKESHOP August 2016 50 SMOKESHOP August 2016 I n the previous issue of Smokeshop mag- azine, I shared my initial reaction to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) long-awaited "deeming rule," de- claring all tobacco products, including cigars, subject to the agency's regulatory authority. There is mounting anxiety and concern about how these regulations will impact our industry. How we respond will greatly influence the future of cigars in the United States. But as I wrote then, this is the first inning of a long ballgame. Now, we are preparing to go to bat. From the beginning, the three major industry associations knew that once the final regulations were released, we would need to come together for the good of our consumers, producers and the product itself. We worked collec- tively to educate the FDA throughout the rule-making process. Our goal was to encourage the FDA to recognize the unique characteristics of cigars and the cigar industry, and to adopt a regulatory structure that reflected these factors. The FDA's 499-page rule is long and complex. In many ways, it raises more questions than answers. Unfortunately, the FDA chose to apply a one-size fits all regulatory framework regulating all tobacco products, including cigars of any size, in the same manner. The rule takes effect on August 8, 2016. Most provisions of the rule will become effec- tive at various points over the next six to eighteen months. Since the rule was released, concern and anxiety has mounted. In a lot of ways, there is uncertainty. In some ways, there are outright unknowns. There is no doubt that every aspect of the industry will be effected by this new rule. But that is exactly why the three major industry associations are moving to confront this issue in one unified voice. For the first time in a long time, the three major industry associations are coming together to act collectively in response to the FDA's new rule. The Ci- gar Association of America (CAA), the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Re- tailers Association (IPCPR), and the Ci- gar Rights of America (CRA) are pledg- ing to work together in response to the new rule. In a joint letter issued in late May, we wrote, "the industry needs to work together, and the associations are explor- ing issues relating to compliance, includ- ing engagement with FDA for clarity and guidance, as well as other legal, leg- islative, and regulatory options moving forward." The bottom line is that we are acting as one. Each organization agrees that any action that is taken should be taken on behalf of the entire industry. We can and should develop one cohesive strategy that accounts for our common interests as members of the cigar community. We are asking other industry members to join us and avoid taking any independent steps in the immediate future. Our unified voice demonstrates how important this issue is to our industry. By acting as one voice, instead of three, we can better coordinate our resources to- wards the best outcome for the industry. Each of the major industry organi- zations is working hard to fully analyze the new rule and how it will impact the industry. We will continue to work to- gether on compliance, engage the FDA for clarity and guidance when appropri- ate, and are exploring other legal, legis- lative and regulatory options. We have experienced and dedicated staff and professionals looking at rule's various provisions, including user's fees, regula- tions on flavorings, warning labels, and retail blending. We have established several joint committees of highly-qualified profes- sionals to evaluate the industry's next steps. Each industry association is repre- sented on these committees. Collective- ly, these groups will evaluate the impact of the rule and potential steps that can or should be taken in order to safeguard our future. We are confident that these committees will set a smart course for our industry. In addition to the work on the deeming rule, the Cigar Association of America will continue to work on its educational and legislative efforts. We will continue to inform and educate pol- icymakers on Capitol Hill. We will also continue to closely monitor legislation that affects our industry. While the new rule occupies most of our time and ener- gy, we continue to be fully engaged in all aspects of education and advocacy. As I said in May, the new rule does mark the beginning of a new era for the cigar industry. But our future is not entire- ly written for us. There are concrete steps we can take to safeguard our business and industry. I am confident, as are my colleagues with IPCPR and CRA, that we can and will find a path forward. Craig Williamson is president of the Cigar Association of America, Tel: (202) 223-8204, Web: www.cigarassociation.org. > CAA INSIGHT Cigar Industry Moves Ahead as One Voice A committed effort among various cigar industry associations to work together as FDA's rule comes into force provides the most effective path forward to defend everyone's interests. >BY CRAIG WILLIAMSON > The new rule does mark the beginning of a new era for the cigar industry. But our future is not entirely written for us. There are concrete steps we can take to safeguard our business and industry.