How did we get here? It did not happen overnight and there are drivers? Is the government just in it to ruin our fun? Are cigars that much of a threat to the public that the fed had to step in and do something to save us? The answer is no! They want to score political points by acting like the protectors of teens and young adults. I know what you are saying “PROVE IT”
No one ever started a joke with the line "a teen walks into a cigar lounge". Why? You already know. Cigar smokers are mostly 30 to 60 year old men with an increasing female presence but what about the audience for the new products that have entered the market? They call them cigars but some are machine made, some are flavored and machine made, and some are hand rolled using premium long filler and mysterious infusion processes. Some are not even cigars. They are more like digital nicotine delivery mechanisms (ecigs). Are they for men and women that love traditional or shall I say "real" cigars or are they more aligned to kids, new cigar smokers that have not acquired the taste of a puro, non-cigar smokers that just want nicotine, or are they made for the person that only has 1 dollar for a cigar. The answer is yes to all and the people that buy them are young adults and teens. The FDA and elected government officials want to be the protectors of this impressionable group and if they have to ruin the cigar industry to do it then so be it.
In 2009 premium cigars were excluded from option one like legislation because cigars are very different from ecigs, machine made shit sticks, flavored cigars, infused cigars, blunt wrappers, and cigarettes. Remember that cigar smokers always wanted their own lane and it was easy to justify the clear distinction because premium cigars are too expensive for teenagers and they are an aquired taste. They had an adult distinction about them and they were marketed to adults. Cigar smokers are an esoteric group with the money to dole out for a $800 humidor, $100 lighter, $100 cutter, and $200 box of cigars that are stored in pristine condition to age over time. In other words, they are nasty to most people and financially out of the reach of most kids and that was a good thing. But then came ecigs which were outside the reach of preexsiting legislation so there was no federal law stating that you have to be 18 to buy ecigs (parents of teens started sending letters to the nanny state immediately). All other forms of tobacco have laws that are already on the books stating that consumers have to be 18 years of age at the point of sale.
Then came the deluge of machine made flavored cigars sold at gas stations and bodegas, which caused a spike in teen smoking (more angry letters). This was the start of the end. The confluence of ecigs with no federal law to prevent teens from purchasing them and the spike in teen smoking caught the eyes of state and federal legislatures but then the ecig companies lobbied to be treated as cigars and won (here begins the slippery slope).
So now we have been bundled into the same basket with ecigs, machine made cigars, machine made flavored cigars, and hand rolled infused cigars (one big bundle). Then the distinctions were further diminished by premium long filler hand rolled cigars that were "infused" with ingredients that were not approved by the FDA. Traditionally, no one ever needed to submit new blends for premium cigars to the FDA because it was natural tobacco with no chemicals or artificial flavors. But once ecigs, machine made flavored cigars, and premium infused cigars were bundled together under the same law which mostly benefited all except for handmade premium cigar smokers they were forever joined at the hip because treating them different in the past allowed ecigs to escape oppressive legislation.
So parents are complaining that their children are smoking flavored cigars, using machine made flavored cigars for marijuana, and smoking ecigs and nothing can be done because the laws that righteously protected traditional cigars shielded the makers of shit sticks and ecigs. Though bundled with these other products Cigar Rights of America kept outlining the distinctions between traditional cigars and the rest. Traditional cigar smokers average a 2 or 3 cigars a week, the cigars are free of unnatural ingredients, they are naturally fermented, hand rolled, and financially out of the reach of teenagers. Once bundled together we are now subject to the same FDA legislation. That is where we are now!