We just recently got back from the IPCPR (International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers) show, which is where the manufacturers present their new products, and special items for the gift-giving season. Most of the new items are cigars, and there are a lot of them. We saw a number of new pipes and tobaccos as well. It’s not easy to look at all of these items and to figure out which ones to choose and which to ignore. A lot of time (and money) is spent at the show to bring you more variety and the best prices possible.
Russ wrote about something recently, and I wanted to weigh in using the perspective of the show as a reference point. The FDA is currently considering new rules that would place a number of restrictions on bringing new cigars and pipe tobaccos to market. In fact, many of the newer cigars and blends that we’ve come to enjoy will disappear. Let’s take a look at this from another viewpoint. Take a look at Doritos. I know, it doesn’t make a lot of sense on the surface, but follow me for a bit. Doritos have two kinds that always sell- Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch, but at any given time there may be a half-dozen or more different types on the shelves. Why so many? Because some people like variety and are always looking for something new. These folks may not even care that one of the new flavors may disappear in a few months (limited editions), because there will be another bunch of new ones to try soon. These folks probably still buy the Nacho or Ranch varieties, but enjoy the other flavors as a change of pace. If the government came out and said that Frito Lay couldn’t come out with any new flavors, not only would their sales drop, but it might also damage the two core flavors, as people would begin to get bored of the same old, same old.
A lot of you enjoy variety in your cigars and pipe tobaccos. You don’t want to smoke the same thing all the time, but if these proposals are pushed through, that’s exactly what will happen. Any new cigars and blends that came out after February 15, 2007 would be pulled from the market. All of those items would have to be submitted for testing, and even if they pass, it would take a year or more before they could be reintroduced. Besides that, the cost of the testing would be thousands of dollars per item. Now, because of volume, it may be worth it to General Cigar to do that for, let’s say, Partagas 1845, but the cost might be prohibitive for some of the smaller boutique brands. In fact, some of these brands didn’t exist before that date, so all of their products would have to be submitted, and their company wouldn’t have anything to sell until approval, meaning that, effectively, they’re out of business for a year or more. In some cases, that could kill the brand and people would lose their jobs. This isn’t fair or reasonable. The FDA has a specific agenda in mind with these guidelines, but there are different ways to accomplish the same goal which wouldn’t have the negative impact that their proposals will have.
There’s still time to weigh in on this. We have a link on the website that will take you to a page that will explain how you can help, by commenting to the FDA and your legislators. Please take the time to make your voice heard, or a lot of the products you enjoy may fade away. Here’s the page: http://www.pipesandcigars.com/page/fda-regulation-comments?slide=7