Cigar News: Nat Sherman parent, Altria, supports FDA fight against premium cigar exemption
Do you hear that? Shhhhh…listen. What we just heard is a really big shoe dropping on the hotly debated, and openly pointless topic of whether premium cigars should be granted an exemption by the FDA. In a move masked as righteousness and altruism for the greater health of our society, US tobacco behemoth, Altria, submitted a 9-page letter to the FDA essentially outlining their reasoning for why the FDA should NOT – yes, NOT – grant an exemption for premium cigars.
Within the first page of Altria’s 9-page manifesto is the warhead:
“II. FDA Should Regulate All Cigars, Including Premium Cigars. We agree with FDA that there is “no appropriate public health justification to exclude premium cigars from regulation.”3 As the ANPRM states: lain cigars pose serious negative health risks.”4 Excluding premium cigars from regulation could suggest to consumers that FDA has determined that some cigars are safer than other cigars, are safer than other types of tobacco products, or do not have the potential to cause disease. It could also motivate some manufacturers to evade regulation by changing the classification of their cigars.“
You can download and read the entire letter here.
The $26B cigarette universe of Altria includes subsidiaries like Philip Morris and features iconic brands like Marlboro. Sadly, they also own Nat Sherman Cigars. This particular aspect has not been well received as many fans of Nat Sherman’s cigars are understandably outraged. Their frustration, spilling over into social media feeds, is highlighted by vociferously boycotting Nat Sherman Cigars and encouraging smokers to destroy their existing cigars. I’m not sure just how much say the Sherman family had in Altria’s decision, but in any case, they’re in for a rough ride. I’m of the mind I’d like to see how this plays out and just what or how much culpability should be laid at the feet of Nat Sherman. As a fan of Nat Sherman myself, I can’t help but feel similarly betrayed. But my frustration lie more with the actions of a faceless conglomerate, not the just-along-for-the ride subsidiary. Why would Altria effectively torpedo almost 100 years of history and credibility of an iconic cigar brand? Oh right, it’s a small price to pay to shudder a lot of the competition.
The calculated move made by Altria is a trend we’re seeing more and more in this country where competition is methodically eliminated. Money and power do still reign supreme and don’t fool yourself into believing for a second that Altria gives a rat’s ass as to whether or not the majority of small, family owned premium cigar boutiques will effectively be wiped out. The culture, the communities and the economies of several countries are simply expendable. Meh. – In Fumo Pax!
I’m certain there’s more fall out to come, so stay tuned…