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Learn the latest on Virginia and national political issues regarding smoking.

     
Please click on the links below to view an announcement of particular interest or scroll down the page to view all announcements:

»  Court Rules FDA Acted Improperly Regarding Regulation of Premium Cigars (7/5/22)
»  Say "NO" to a Ban on Flavored Cigars! ~ UPDATED (6/17/22)
»  FDA Announces Proposed Flavored Cigar Product Standards Rule (4/28/22)
»  CRA Public Statement on NASEM Premium Cigar Panel Findings (3/11/22)
»  Tobacco Tax Equity Stripped from the Build Back Better Act (10/28/21)
»  Tell Congress NO To Tobacco Tax Hikes ~ UPDATED (9/24/21)
»  Oppose Federal Tax Increase on Premium Cigars & Pipe Tobacco (4/7/21)
»  CRA & PCA Statement On Release Of Premium Cigar SE & PMTA Final Rule (1/20/21)
»  Court Blocks FDA Product Approval Requirements for Premium Cigars (8/19/20)
»  Virginians - Governor Northam's 100% Increase in the OTP Tax On Premium Cigars & Pipe Tobacco Will Become Law July 1, 2020 (5/2/20)
»  Virginians - Oppose Governor Northam's 100% Increase in the OTP Tax On Premium Cigars & Pipe Tobacco! (4/7/20)
»  Save Small Businesses - Oppose S. 3174! (3/4/20)
»  CRA & PCA Issue Statement in Opposition to U.S. House Bill HR 2339 (2/28/20)
»  FDA-Required Warning Labels on Premium Cigars Vacated (2/4/20)
»  Virginia Tobacconists Are Safe [For Now]! (2/1/20)
»  Virginia Tobacconists Need Your Help Now! (1/9/20)
»  Premium Cigar Makers May Catch a Break from FDA - Article by CNBC's Lauren Hirsch (1/6/20)

 

     

Court Rules FDA Acted Improperly Regarding Regulation of Premium Cigars (7/5/22)

From the CRA: A little over one month ago, Cigar Rights of America ("CRA") appeared in Federal Court to challenge the FDA's decision to regulate premium cigars. Today, United States District Judge Amit P. Mehta ruled that the FDA's decision to regulate premium cigars was arbitrary and capricious in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.

Regarding the handling of CRA-submitted information, the Court held that "instead of addressing the relevant data before it, the agency resorted to a common refrain to obscure the issue: '[T]here were no data provided to support the premise that there are different patterns of use of premium cigars and that these patterns result in lower health risks.' That statement was not accurate then, and despite litigation counsel's efforts, it is not accurate now." The Court continued: "Where, as here, an agency speaks in absolute terms that there is no evidence, it acts arbitrarily and capriciously when there is in fact pertinent record evidence and the agency ignores or overlooks it."

The Court also criticized the agency's handling of data regarding whether youth use premium cigars.

Gary Pesh, Chairman of CRA, stated "Today's federal court opinion is consistent with CRA and PCA's long-held contention that FDA acted arbitrarily and capriciously when it decided to regulate premium cigars in the first place." Pesh continued, "CRA funded and pursued this direct challenge and are grateful for the hard work that the CRA legislative and legal team have undertaken to explain the errors in the FDA's decision to regulate premium cigars."

The Court has instructed both parties to file briefs on the question of the appropriate remedy by July 26, 2022.

Courtesy of CRA of which Milan Tobacconists is a member. To learn more about the CRA, please visit www.cigarrights.org.

 

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Say "NO" to a Ban on Flavored Cigars! ~ UPDATED (6/17/22)

UPDATE:
The FDA issued the following statement today: "FDA is extending the comment period to a total of 90 days following requests from the public. FDA also received requests to not extend the comment period from public health organizations. However, FDA believes that a 90-day comment period is appropriate as it allows adequate additional time for people to fully consider the proposed rules, including specific requests for comments, and develop and submit comments without significantly lengthening the rulemaking proceedings." This extends the formal comment period from July 5, 2022, to August 2, 2022.

ORIGINAL POST DATED 6/6/22:
Cigar Association of America (CAA) has provided a portal through which cigar smokers may share their opinion directly with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regarding the agency's proposed ban on flavored cigars [see next article for details]. The FDA's formal comment period closes on July 5, 2022 [now August 2, 2022].

"It is unfortunate that in public policy debates, the average adult consumer is often given little say in the matter," said David Ozgo, CAA president in a press release. "We developed this portal to give adult consumers a voice on this important issue."

As a premium cigar smoker of legal age, we believe you should have the choice of which legal products you wish to enjoy and hope you'll take a minute right now to easily share your comments with the FDA by visiting the CAA Portal Here -> CAA Secure Portal

Thank you in advance!

David and Renée Meyer
Milan Tobacconists, Inc.

Portal Courtesy of Cigar Association of America ~ a non-profit trade association for the cigar industry founded in 1937. To learn more about CAA, please visit www.cigarassociation.org.

 

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FDA Announces Proposed Flavored Cigar Product Standards Rule (4/28/22)

From the PCA: Today, the Food & Drug Administration and the Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) announced their "Tobacco Product Standard for Characterizing Flavors in Cigars" proposed rule, which would prohibit characterizing flavoring in all cigars.

On March 10th the Premium Cigar Association (PCA) was the first stakeholder group to meet with the Office of Management & Budget, Office of Information & Regulatory Affairs, and Food & Drug Administration to raise concerns about this pending rule, ask for clarification on the specifics, and make recommendations about further research on international implications and impact on small businesses. PCA asserts that the agency still has left many questioned unanswered, specifically on: 1) characterizing flavor descriptors; 2) total small business impact; 3) foreign impact in cigar producing countries; and 4) impact on minority owned small businesses.

"The FDA failed to do their homework in this rule and the document is filled with cherry-picked data that mirrors spoon fed talking points from anti-tobacco groups. The proposed rule is a mess that is ripe with potential challenges and reflective of an agency that is unable to prioritize its resources appropriately." said Greg Zimmerman, president of the PCA.

As the process continues PCA, will: 1) challenge the necessity of a prohibition; 2) showcase negative retail impact; 3) argue for a solidified and long-term inventory turnover period; 4) maintain that the rule does not affect pipe tobacco; and 5) argue for clarity surrounding characterizing descriptors.

"As we move through the regulatory process, PCA will continue to engage with the FDA and policymakers to shed light on industry concerns. Chief among our concerns remains the ability to describe "premium cigars," which are non-flavored, with descriptors that accurately describe the natural variances in tobacco flavor. We aggressively assert this is a free speech issue. Whether you are an individual company crafting shelf talkers or a major media publication, you should be free to describe the product's profile accurately," said Joshua Habursky, PCA deputy executive director and head of government affairs.

The Premium Cigar Association intends to participate in the public comment process that will include two public listening sessions on June 13th and June 15th. The docket for comments will be open beginning May 4th and will be open until July 5th. The Premium Cigar Association staff has put together a Frequently Asked Questions document that summarizes the 187-page rule and it's applicability to retailers, manufacturers, and connection to premium cigars, which may be found here -> PCA's FAQ on FDA Proposed Rule

Full FDA Proposed Rule Text Here.

Information and Link Courtesy of the PCA of which Milan Tobacconists is a member. To learn more about the PCA [formerly IPCPR], please visit www.premiumcigars.org.

 

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CRA Public Statement on NASEM Premium Cigar Panel Findings (3/11/22)

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."

Sincerely,
The Cigar Rights of America Board

View the report here -> NASEM Report

Courtesy of CRA of which Milan Tobacconists is a member. To learn more about the CRA, please visit www.cigarrights.org.

 

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Tobacco Tax Equity Stripped from the Build Back Better Act (10/28/21)

Finally, a victory thanks in no small part to our customers across the country contacting your representatives on Capitol Hill to let them know the proposed tax increases on your cigars and pipe tobacco were unacceptable!

From the PCA: "Tobacco Tax Equity has been a top priority by anti-tobacco activists seeking to price informed adult consumers out of the market. Under the false premise that all tobacco products are interchangeable and equally hazardous to health, it would have fundamentally changed the current risk-based tax formula. The new formula would equate all tobacco products to cigarettes, then double the tax! The result would be up to 1,000% increase in federal excise tax for cigars and 1,650% increase in federal excise tax for pipe tobacco.

"The anti-tobacco groups fed Congress a lot of half-truths, and frankly there are some powerful officials that enabled it," said Joshua Habursky, Head of Government Affairs at PCA. "Initially, very little consideration was given for how this would affect lower income and minority populations, small businesses, unemployment, foreign relations, immigration, or even public health for that matter. A lot of Congress members weren't happy about the position they were put in."

PCA began lobbying against Tobacco Tax Equity in February of this year, when Senator Durbin (D-IL) proposed it as a means to pay for maternal health programs. The threat evolved into a stand-alone bill in March before being proposed as a means to pay-for the Build Back Better Act. The effort has included over 100 meetings in Washington D.C. and collaboration with allied associations in the States. PCA also developed a grassroots engagement platform that gave voice to over 25,000 cigar and pipe enthusiasts contacting Capitol Hill. In October, PCA hosted a Global Policy Summit with U.S. Senators, foreign dignitaries, and international industry leaders. The discussion led to engagement with the White House on the deeper economic effects that the policy would have on our Central American allies and trade partners including the direct opposition of these provisions by the Minister of Trade & Industry for the Dominican Republic.

"This campaign proved how strong we are when the industry comes together as one family," said Greg Zimmerman, President of the Premium Cigar Association. "I'm grateful for our retail members, manufacturers and the everyday consumers who participated in this campaign. It started with great lobbying here in D.C., but the strength of those messages resonated because Members of Congress and Senators realized that PCA represents real business owners, real employees and real voters."

The House of Representatives will soon begin debate on this latest version of the Build Back Better Act, with the Senate to follow suit.

"At the end of the day, Tobacco Tax Equity isn't about raising money for social programs; it's about an elite interest group that wants to destroy our industry." said Scott Pearce, Executive Director of the Premium Cigar Association. "If you look at how these groups are funded, it's clear they still wield a lot of political power. This could circle back around. So we won't be letting up."

PCA is still encouraging its members and our customers to take action on an updated alert to stave off that threat of the anti-tobacco groups pushing these harmful provisions back into the Build Back Better agenda. Please take action now -> Keep Up the Pressure!

Thank you so much for joining the fight to keep your cigars and pipe tobacco from being unfairly taxed!

Information and Link Courtesy of the PCA of which Milan Tobacconists is a member. To learn more about the PCA [formerly IPCPR], please visit www.premiumcigars.org.

 

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Tell Congress NO To Tobacco Tax Hikes ~ UPDATED (9/24/21)

Update:
The House Ways & Means Committee has passed the tax proposal package as introduced, meaning that all Republican amendments to the bill were defeated and the Democrats offered none. The proposal is now with the House Budget Committee, where they are waiting on negotiations between House and Senate Democratic leadership and the White House before the legislative process proceeds. Once the legislation clears the Budget Committee, the bill will transit to the House Rules Committee ~ the last stop before consideration of the bill by the full House.

Negotiations on the proposal are continuing to take place behind the scenes, but your vocal opposition to this increased tax on premium cigars and pipe tobacco is so critical now! Remember, the proposed tax increase under consideration in Congress could see tax increases in excess of 1,000% for premium cigars and pipe tobacco. This is a credible threat that should not be ignored. Please contact your members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate TODAY if you haven't already -> Ax the Tax Hikes! Thank you for your support.

Original:
The House Ways & Means Democratic staff has begun circulating a list of priorities and revenue raisers for the "Human Infrastructure" bill that will be voted on in coming weeks through the reconciliation process that only requires a simple majority (51 votes) in the Senate. This is the first step in this process and, unfortunately, the committee's priorities include a $96 billion tobacco tax increase that would likely include both premium cigars and pipe tobacco among other products.

Tuesday (9/14/21), the Ways & Means Committee members will be meeting to discuss their priorities. It is critical that premium cigar consumers, retailers, and manufacturers contact Congress to oppose these detrimental tax increases, especially in committee members' districts.

Over the course of the last 24 hours, the level of threat has risen as Congress considers new ways to raise revenue to pay for sweeping new programs. While taxes on the nation's wealthiest citizens is a primary target, some in Congress are using this moment to press for tax increases on tobacco as a whole and premium cigars and pipe tobacco specifically.

The threat of rolling Senator Dick Durbin's "Tobacco Tax Equity Act" into some of the packages under consideration is real. This action could result in a 1000% tax increase on premium cigars, and a 2,100% increase on pipe tobacco. Their goal: To raise $96 billion in tobacco taxes alone. This comes at a time of regulatory uncertainty and in the midst of a national economic recovery. It's an attack on American small businesses like Milan Tobacconists and a threat to the economies and political stability in some of the most fragile nations in this hemisphere.

Please contact your members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate TODAY -> Say NO to Tobacco Tax Hikes!

Information and Link Courtesy of the PCA of which Milan Tobacconists is a member. To learn more about the PCA [formerly IPCPR], please visit www.premiumcigars.org.

 

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Oppose Federal Tax Increase on Premium Cigars & Pipe Tobacco (4/7/21)

U.S. Senator Durbin (D-IL) has reintroduced a massive tobacco tax increase as part of a bill that is otherwise intended to address maternal mortality. Buried within S.411 - the Mothers and Offspring Mortality and Morbidity Awareness Act (MOMMA's Act) - are changes to the tax code that would treat the entire tobacco industry as though it was a singular producer of cigarettes. The result is an estimated 500% - 1,000% increase on the tax for premium cigars (depending on size) and a 1,650% increase on the tax for pipe tobacco! If passed, the changes included in S.411 would go into effect by the end of this year.

A tax this big isn't just lost profit. This bill will raise the costs for manufacturers, retailers, and consumers. Jobs, businesses, and your ability to purchase and enjoy a premium cigar or pipe tobacco will be at risk. Please take action now by letting your U.S. Senators know that S.411 (MOMMA's Act) shouldn't be paid for on the backs of the premium cigar and pipe tobacco industries. It only takes a minute: Take Action Now!

Information and Link Courtesy of the PCA of which Milan Tobacconists is a member. To learn more about the PCA [formerly IPCPR], please visit www.premiumcigars.org.

 

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CRA & PCA Statement On Release Of Premium Cigar SE & PMTA Final Rule (1/20/21)

Cigar Rights of America (CRA) and the Premium Cigar Association (PCA) have issued the following joint statement:

Last night, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) released the Final Substantial Equivalence (SE) and Premarket Tobacco Product Application (PMTA) Rules to address deemed products. While the rules apply regulations to a wide variety of products, FDA stopped short of applying the new regulations to "premium cigars" acknowledging that the agency is evaluating industry comments and its own research on the category.

"... at this time, FDA is not finalizing the proposed SE rule with respect to "premium" cigars. Rather, FDA will take appropriate action once it has further considered the comments submitted to the deeming rule docket that suggested FDA create a streamlined SE process for "premium" cigars..."

The Final Rule reflects targeted efforts by Premium Cigar Association (PCA) and Cigar Rights of America (CRA) over many years to educate FDA, CTP, and White House officials with category specific data on premium cigars as they relate to public health risk for youth and nicotine addiction and urging them to exclude premium cigars from regulations that are ill-suited to the category. The Final Rule also builds upon the federal court ruling that FDA failed to fully evaluate the comments it had received during its proposed rulemaking on premium cigars before taking action to regulate the category.

Yesterday's release notes, "As discussed in section V.C.1 of this final rule, we are adding the Cigar Ass'n of Am.court's definition of "premium" cigars to ยง 1107.12. That definition is:

"Premium" cigars means a type of cigar that: (1) is wrapped in whole tobacco leaf; (2) contains a 100 percent leaf tobacco binder; (3) contains at least 50 percent (of the filler by weight) long filler tobacco (i.e., whole tobacco leaves that run the length of the cigar); (4) is handmade or hand rolled (i.e., no machinery was used apart from simple tools, such as scissors to cut the tobacco prior to rolling); (5) has no filter, nontobacco tip, or nontobacco mouthpiece; (6) does not have a characterizing flavor other than tobacco; (7) contains only tobacco, water, and vegetable gum with no other ingredients or additives; and (8) weighs more than 6 pounds per 1,000 units."

This is an important victory for the associations and will provide a formative definition for future use at both the federal and state levels in the legislative and regulatory process.

"This is the result of a continued effort in the courts and educating lawmakers and regulators about our industry by the PCA and CRA teams," said Scott Pearce, Executive Director of the Premium Cigar Association. "How this industry is defined ultimately determines how it is regulated and the public health risk data for premium cigars simply doesn't compare to that of other deemed products."

Robert Levin, Chairman of CRA, added, "The release of the Final Rule is a culmination of years of advocacy work in Washington that laid the groundwork for a specific and distinct definition of premium cigars that is now part of a federal definition."

Courtesy of CRA of which Milan Tobacconists is a member. To learn more about the CRA, please visit www.cigarrights.org.

 

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Court Blocks FDA Product Approval Requirements for Premium Cigars (8/19/20)

Today, in the case of Cigar Association of America, the Premium Cigar Association (PCA), and Cigar Rights of America (CRA) v. United States Food and Drug Administration et al., Judge Amit P. Mehta of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in favor for the premium cigar industry and against the FDA. The Court held that the FDA - in the Final Deeming Rule - completely mishandled the important question of how premium cigars should proceed through the premarket review process. The Court concluded that the FDA failed to engage in "reasoned decision-making" regarding premium cigars, in violation of federal law. According to the Court, the FDA's "incorrect and conclusory assertion that its hands were tied" in response to the premium cigar industry's requests for a more tailored regulatory review process "was arbitrary."

Accordingly, the FDA enjoined application of the premarket review requirements until the agency goes back and addressed the important questions regarding premium cigars ignored in the Final Deeming Rule. Premium cigar manufacturers will not have to file for premarket approval by the September 9th, 2020, deadline. The Court relied upon a definition of premium cigar utilized by the FDA in an August 5, 2020 filing:

"a cigar that: (1) is wrapped in whole tobacco leaf; (2) contains a 100 percent leaf tobacco binder; (3) contains at least 50 percent (of the filler by weight) long filler tobacco (i.e., whole tobacco leaves that run the length of the cigar); (4) is handmade or hand rolled (i.e., no machinery was used apart from simple tools, such as scissors to cut the tobacco prior to rolling); (5) has no filter, nontobacco tip, or nontobacco mouthpiece; (6) does not have a characterizing flavor other than tobacco; (7) contains only tobacco, water, and vegetable gum with no other ingredients or additives; and (8) weighs more than 6 pounds per 1,000 units."

The definition is endorsed by PCA and CRA and will provide relief to most products sold at premium cigar retail stores and lounges. Notably the definition does not include a price minimum, flavors, or cigars that are machine manufactured.

"This is another monumental victory for the premium cigar industry. We congratulate our legal team, led by Mike Edney of Steptoe & Johnson, on an important victory that protects the livelihood of PCA members across the country. This comes on the heels of legal victories striking down warning labels for premium cigars. Both our retail members and associate members provided important strategy and guidance in our legal, legislative, and regulatory appeals to define premium cigars and showcase their distinctiveness from the courts to Capitol Hill." says Scott Pearce PCA Executive Director.

Glynn Loope, executive director of CRA, stated upon the release of the opinion, "Judge Mehta's opinion is a testament to the virtue of the public comments filed over the years with the FDA by our industry alliance, consumer messaging and the Administration pressure and Congressional advocacy brought out by our collective lobbying efforts. FDA failed to not only respond to these comments, but also to recognize the suggestions made to address the fairness of the proposed regulations. The efforts of the advocacy strategies initiated by CRA and PCA served as the foundation for this decision, proving that you always have to carry your message to both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, and the courthouse that sits in the middle."

Courtesy of CRA of which Milan Tobacconists is a member. To learn more about the CRA, please visit www.cigarrights.org.

 

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Virginians - Governor Northam's 100% Increase in the OTP Tax On Premium Cigars & Pipe Tobacco Will Become Law July 1, 2020 (5/2/20)

Despite the thousands of emails and letters that poured into Governor Northam's office from Virginia tobacconists and constituent consumers alike, the Governor has refused to remove the VA Other Tobacco Products (OTP) Tax increase from the Executive Budget. Effective July 1, 2020, the OTP Tax on premium cigars and pipe tobacco (and other OTP products) in Virginia will increase from 10% to 20%.

We cannot thank you enough for your efforts to combat the tax increase and wish the outcome had been different.

~David and Renee Meyer

 

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Virginians - Oppose Governor Northam's 100% Increase in the OTP Tax On Premium Cigars & Pipe Tobacco! (4/7/20)

Governor Ralph Northam is doubling the taxes on your cigars and pipe tobacco through his Executive Budget's Other Tobacco Products (OTP) tax increase and we only have 5 days to stop him with your help!

While multiple Virginia legislators proposed OTP tax increases in Virginia's General Assembly this year, all of the legislation has been defeated or tabled for later years' review. BUT, Governor Northam is proceeding on his own with the OTP tax increase and is refusing to remove it from the Executive Budget.

Please help Virginia's tobacconists at this critical time by taking action today via Cigar Rights of America's Action Center -> Action Center <- Note: Although the prefilled message in the Action Center is written for cigar smokers, it is editable so pipe smokers can easily use the same form to reach Governor Northam and your Virginia House and Senate representatives.

Courtesy of CRA of which Milan Tobacconists is a member. To learn more about the CRA, please visit www.cigarrights.org.

 

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Save Small Businesses - Oppose S. 3174! (3/4/20)

U.S. Senate Bill 3174 - Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2020 - introduced by Senator Sherrod Brown (OH) represents a massive government overreach that would harm the premium cigar and pipe industry by imposing a new set of regulations and expand other regulations onto small business owners that would force them to cancel important lines of their business.

S. 3174 inhibits the sustainability of the premium cigar industry. Join PCA and Milan Tobacconists in strongly opposing the bill in its entirety. This bill includes provisions that would decimate the legal sale of premium cigars to legal age adults. Among the harmful provisions included in the bill are a tax increase, a ban on charitable sponsorships, a ban on the sale of promotional products, and other marketing and advertising restrictions meant for other tobacco products. Premium cigars are artisanal products that are infrequently enjoyed by adults and should not be subject to these restrictions. The key provisions highlighted in our opposition will be devastating to the premium cigar industry and aren't warranted given a lack of substantive evidence of any youth access or usage of premium cigars.

Please tell Congress to protect small business owners and oppose this bill. It only takes a minute! -> Take Action Now!

Courtesy of the PCA of which Milan Tobacconists is a member. To learn more about the PCA [formerly IPCPR], please visit www.premiumcigars.org.

 

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CRA & PCA Issue Statement in Opposition to U.S. House Bill HR 2339 (2/28/20)

Cigar Rights of America ("CRA") and the Premium Cigar Association ("PCA") have issued a joint statement in opposition to the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019 ("H.R. 2339").

CRA greatly appreciates the leadership and work of Congresswoman Kathy Castor (D-FL) and Congresswoman Donna Shalala (D-FL), as well as the full House Committee on Energy and Commerce for their recognition that premium cigars should be considered a unique category exempt from harmful FDA regulations and the mail order ban.

CRA and PCA, however, strongly oppose the inclusion of a $12 price point threshold as well as the additional marketing and advertising restrictions that will be detrimental to the industry as a whole.

CRA encourages Congress to continue its work on addressing the issues regarding youth-access to tobacco products while simultaneously continuing to recognize that premium cigars are not a contributing factor to this problem.

J. Glynn Loope, executive director of CRA, stated with regards to the legislative text, "This bill facilitates the recognition that there is, in fact, a class of cigars recognized as "premium," which deserves differing consideration by Congress, and the FDA, alike. However an arbitrary price point does nothing to highlight these unique differences and only serves to cause confusion, which ultimately will lead to economic harm to the premium cigar industry."

As expected, H.R. 2339 passed the House of Representatives today and now heads to the Senate. CRA will continue to monitor this bill, and work to address areas of concern, while preserving its recognition that premium cigars are unique and distinctive.

Courtesy of CRA of which Milan Tobacconists is a member. To learn more about the CRA, please visit www.cigarrights.org.

 

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FDA-Required Warning Labels on Premium Cigars Vacated (2/4/20)

Yesterday, Judge Amit P. Mehta issued an opinion that vacated FDA-required warning labels on premium cigars.

In his findings, Judge Mehta found that FDA's approach was inadequate and stated that "FDA failed to articulate a reasoned basis for requiring warning labels for premium cigars." And, that "By failing to analyze whether consumers are in fact misinformed or underinformed as to premium cigar health effects, the agency has failed to offer the rational connection between facts and judgment required to pass muster under the arbitrary and capricious standard."

Additionally, Mehta noted that FDA found that there were reasons to consider that premium cigars should either be regulated, or regulated differently than other deemed products but the agency didn't address this issue appropriately.

Glynn Loope, executive director of CRA, stated, "Today's decision demands a reasoned approach when addressing the regulation of premium cigars. For years, premium cigar manufacturers and retailers have been sounding the alarm that FDA's warning label requirements were among the regulatory requirements that would devastate the premium cigar industry."

Loope continued, "Judge Mehta's decision drew from evidence that was built into the administrative record by historic and diligent legislative and advocacy efforts, including CRA's comments in the rulemaking process. CRA is committed to continuing communications to Congress, the Trump Administration, and to numerous agencies within the federal government."

To read Judge Mehta's full decision, click here to view as a PDF -> Judge Mehta Decision

Courtesy of CRA of which Milan Tobacconists is a member. To learn more about the CRA, please visit www.cigarrights.org.

 

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Virginia Tobacconists Are Safe [For Now]! (2/1/20)

Thanks to the tremendous efforts of the Cigar Association of Virginia (CAV), the following House and Senate bills are being carried forward to 2021, which means Virginia tobacconists and our customers are safe for now! Following is an excerpted breakdown from the CAV regarding House Bills 93 and 1119 to which we alerted you on 1/9/20:

"CAV met with over 40 offices, specifically targeting legislators that currently serve on committees that would hear the bills that included a broadly interpreted flavor ban to include most premium cigars and pipe tobacco, and explained to them the devastating effects that these laws will have on our Virginia small businesses. For many of these offices, they did not understand the full scope of how handmade cigars and pipe tobacco are different than mass produced tobacco products.

While there were undoubtedly some difficult meetings, we left feeling optimistic that there was a path for us to be treated differently because most members agreed that these bills should not include premium cigars and pipe tobacco. The subcommittee has since voted to carry these bills over to next year.

All bills carried over to next year are assigned to a study for the remainder of 2020. Our team will actively participate in this study to make sure we are protected.

What's left? As you can see, our team has been working tirelessly on our causes. We all owe them a thank you, and I hope that they are enjoying a fine cigar this weekend. In addition to continuing to monitor other legislation that might add us, we have one more hurdle to overcome. We have discovered 3 amendments to the state budget that were to be used to enforce the bills above. We have to get them addressed. Our team will be meeting with the Chairman of House Appropriations this week to resolve this.

Scott Regina, Treasurer Cigar Association of Virginia"

We're taking this opportunity to profusely thank those of you who took action when these bills were brought to your attention, and hope you'll join us in thanking the CAV for its quick and decisive response ~ taking the Virginia General Assembly head-on so that all of us can continue to enjoy our cigars and pipe tobacco for another year!

David and Renée Meyer
Milan Tobacconists

Courtesy of the CAV of which Milan Tobacconists is a founding member. To learn more about the CAV, please visit www.savemycigar.org.

 

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Virginia Tobacconists Need Your Help Now! (1/9/20)

As many of you know, Milan Tobacconists is a 108-year-old landmark located in downtown Roanoke, Virginia, and our multi-generational small business specializes in premium handmade cigars and custom blended pipe tobacco.

We recently learned of the proposed Virginia House Bill No. 93 sponsored by Delegates Kory and Samirah. Upon review of the bill [click here to view as PDF], we believe its primary focus is on the vape industry. However, the Bill's language appears to target all flavored tobacco products, including premium cigars and pipe tobacco. If House Bill No. 93 were to pass in its current form, it would be devastating to our family-owned business renowned across the Commonwealth and the country for its custom blended pipe tobacco. Equally important to note, HB93 would make it illegal for any tobacco retailer in the United States and abroad to sell "flavored" tobacco products, including pipe tobacco and cigars, to Virginia residents online. Proposed Virginia House Bill No. 1119 [click here to view as PDF] sponsored by Delegate Hope also serves to prohibit the sale of "flavored" tobacco products to Virginia residents.

Premium cigars and custom blended pipe tobacco are not manufactured in the same manner as vape and machine-made flavored cigars sold in convenience stores. They are adult consumables to be enjoyed in moderation and are never marketed to youth. These products are pure in form, additive-free, and do not have the addictive properties found in vape and machine-made products, yet these proposed bills are treating them in exactly the same manner.

While we and other certified tobacconists throughout Virginia fully support legislation that would help keep vaping products out of the hands of anyone under the age of 21, this legislation in its current form will most likely drive every last one of us out of business and deprive Virginia residents of their right to enjoy certain pipe tobaccos and premium cigars. Please contact your Virginia delegate today -> Virginia House of Delegates Member Listing <- and ask that pipe tobacco and premium handmade cigars be excluded from Virginia House Bill Nos. 93 and 1119.

Thank you in advance for your critical support!

David and Renée Meyer
Milan Tobacconists

 

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Premium Cigar Makers May Catch a Break from FDA - Article by CNBC's Lauren Hirsch (1/6/20)

By May, the FDA must decide whether they will stick to an Obama-era regulation that would force cigar-makers to abide by the same compliance rules as all other tobacco products. If they do, the compliance costs could put nearly 90% of U.S. cigar manufacturers out of business and destroy 5,300 jobs, according to data compiled by Mangum Economic Consulting and provided by Cigar Rights of America.

But the FDA last week gave the regulation's opponents reason to be optimistic. Under pressure from the White House, the Food and Drug Administration gave premium cigar-makers and importers a win last week, indicating it may spare the industry from costly regulation set to go into effect this spring.

The White House has pushed the FDA to carve out premium cigars from the regulations, two people familiar with the situation told CNBC, requesting anonymity because the conversations are confidential. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney has been a particularly strong opponent of its inclusion in regulation, one of the people said.

The FDA last week offered a small concession. While it did not go so far as to give the industry what it wants - exemption from the regulation - it implied it may turn a blind eye to cracking down on premium cigar companies not in compliance.

"FDA will make enforcement decisions on a case-by-case basis, recognizing that it is unable, as a practical matter, to take enforcement action against every illegally marketed tobacco product, and that it needs to make the best use of Agency resources," the agency wrote. Its "lowest priority among these products will include relatively expensive, large hand-rolled cigars that do not have flavors (e.g., fruit, candy, or mint), given what FDA understands to be their comparatively lower youth usage rates."

The news was cautiously welcomed by the premium cigar industry.

"We appreciate the recognition of being on the lower end of risk," said J. Glynn Loope, executive director of Cigar Rights of America. "But we'd like to not be subject to this regulation at all."

The original CNBC article is available in its entirety here -> Premium Cigar Makers May Catch a Break from FDA

Courtesy of CRA of which Milan Tobacconists is a member. To learn more about the CRA, please visit www.cigarrights.org.

 

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