Welcome to the 10th installment of the Stogie Press “Last Weeks Cigar Social Media News and Questions”, where Boston Jimmie scours the world-wide web of cigars and summarizes relevant news and questions of the past week. On the following Monday, my friend Kap Kaplowitz then shreds my writing and puts his unique commentary on select news bites from today’s article, during his Kaplowitz Media radio pod cast.
Social Media Cigar News and Questions for the week ending August 3, 2018.
- Altria Sides with the FDA on Premium Cigar Exemption
- Texas Court Weighs in on FDA Cigar Case Merge
- Latest in Nicaragua News
- Question of the Week
Altria Sides with the FDA on Premium Cigar Exemption
This was the biggest news of the week, it absolutely dominated the cigar social media feeds with consumers, brand owners, and media channels chiming in and stating their opinions. For those that missed this – though I find it hard to believe you missed it – Altria Corporation, the parent company of Malboro Cigarettes and recently acquired Nat Sherman, wrote a 9 page memo to the FDA outlining their position on the cigar regulations. Jeff Borysiewicz from Corona Cigars, was one of a few that got the dialogue started, when he posted the 9 page memo on his feed.
The post moved through the social media sphere and was met with a host of opinions. Many called for an immediate boycott of Nat Sherman cigars while others came to the defense of Michael Herklots, Joel Sherman and Dave Lafferty from Nat Sherman, stating they had little chance to impact the voice of Altria. In the end the war waged on and unfortunately there were some bashing of those that stated their opinions.
As for me, I would say this, we as a cigar community should stay vigilante in our fight with the FDA but as a community, we should be respectful to each others opinions without using derogatory statements. If you personally wish to boycott Nat Sherman, that is your right.
The latest to come from this debate is from the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers (IPCPR) association news blast that states:
“IPCPR is aware of comments recently submitted by Altria Group, Inc. regarding premium cigar regulations, as well as the subsequent concerns raised about these comments. IPCPR has long been and remains a staunch advocate for premium cigar exemption from FDA regulation. Additionally, we have worked diligently with industry partners, including Altria and Nat Sherman, both on and off Capitol Hill to advocate for this position.
While the association differs with Altria’s official position on premium cigar exemption, we are heartened by the company’s statement that “Premium Cigars Are Different”, and further, their subsequent comments that premium cigars are a unique tobacco product category harmed by current FDA regulations. This includes their opposition to the unwarranted pre-market pathway and untenable testing framework under the Deeming Rule. Moreover, Altria has publicly supported current legislative language sponsored by Congressman Cole (R-OK) that includes a premium cigar exemption. We will continue to work with our partners in industry in support of favorable outcomes for premium cigars and pipe tobacco.
IPCPR urges its member retailers to review the full Altria comment, Nat Sherman’s response, as well as IPCPR’s comments. The association remains an ardent supporter of premium cigar exemption, and will continue to be the leading advocate for this outcome in Washington, DC.Daniel Trope
IPCPR Senior Director – Federal Affairs
Texas Court Weighs in on FDA Cigar Case Merge
The other week we reported about the little cigar case down in Texas which was to decide whether the government should delay or suspend the implementation of warning labels till Aug. 10. The presiding judge in that case was U.S. Magistrate Judge Kimberly Priest Johnson. The decision that was eventually reached was to grant the FDA request to merge the Texas lawsuit with the big cigar industry lawsuit that was being heard on appeal in Washington D.C. The D.C. court then decided to grant an injunction of the warning label argument until after the appeal process was complete. That was not satisfactory to the Texas plaintiffs, who promptly filed an appeal in the Texas court. To bring the case back to Texas.
US District Judge Amos L. Mazzant (TX) did not see it the same way, and ruled against the cigar industry stating:
“..the court finds no error in the Magistrate Judge’s conclusion that the “crux of the present lawsuit—the FDA’s failure to treat premium cigars differently from other cigars and to exempt premium cigars from the warnings requirement is squarely before the court in Cigar Association(Dkt. #55 at 6), and thus, the two cases are likely to overlap to a substantial degree.”
“Having considered Plaintiffs’ Emergency Appeal of the Magistrate Judge’s July 2 Order Sua Ponte Reversing the Denial of Transfer (Dkt. #56 ), the Court finds that the Magistrate Judge’s Order is not clearly erroneous or contrary to law. FED. R. CIV. P. 72(a). Accordingly, the July 2 Order (Dkt. #55) is AFFIRMED , and this case is hereby TRANSFERRED to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia”
Latest in Nicaragua News
The troubles in Nicaragua keep escalating, with now over 317 dead and President Ortega not making things any better as he has taken to television to deny the rumors that he is killing peaceful protesters. Last week, 13 Latin American countries, joined together to call for an end to what is happening in Nicaragua and demonstrations popped up in front of Nicaraguan embassies throughout these countries. The list of countries include: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.
Just the other week, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres harshly condemned the acts of the Nicaraguan government, stating
“It’s evident that there is a shocking number of deaths and a lethal use of force by entities tied to the state that is unacceptable”
He further stated during the 40th anniversary of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights:
“It’s essential to immediately halt the violence and rebuild national political dialogue. Only a political solution is acceptable”
Of course none of this has persuaded President Ortega who just recently turned up the flame by establishing a new anti-terrorism law. The law is described so broadly, that it allows government forces to target those in street protests, including students and demonstrators. In fact, the law imposes a sentence of between 15 and 20 years in prison on those committing the crime of “terrorism.”
It has also been reported that the Nicaraguan Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, is an accomplice of the actions condemned by the Nicaraguan Legislation. The ministry went so far as to issue a statement that read:
“This type of declaration makes them accomplices of the actions that terrorist groups have carried out, killing Nicaraguans and destroying our country with the aim of overthrowing a constitutional government, democratically elected by our people,”
Making matters even worse, are reports that the US Government is working with the Ortega government in an effort to speed up the deportation of Nicaraguan immigrants in the US, back to Nicaragua. It should be noted that 1,000’s of Nicaraguan citizens have fled their homeland due to violence and repression, many have sought refuge in neighboring Costa Rica and given safe haven.
Question of the Week
Chad Clark form the Cigar Cartel asked:
“Just wondering if it’s rude to ask for a refund for a cigar that totally cracked and broke upon you lighting it, and is it rude for the cigar shop you got it at to not grant you a refund?”
Ok, I will say this, I have done it, and my shops have always replaced it for free. I don’t think it is rude to ask for a replacement. I would not ask for a refund. They may hold it and show it to a rep or may not. But it is good business to take care of your customers. I would consider it rude of the shop owner not to replaces a bad cigar like that, but I emphasize replace as opposed refund your purchase. I would be interested in hearing from Shop and Brand Owners on their views….
That’s about it for major news and interesting questions from cigar media this week. Remember to tune in to Kaplowtiz Media this coming Monday as Kap rips into the Cigar News Powered by Stogie Press.