As you've likely heard by now, the US FDA has issued their ruling on various nicotine products, including widespread regulations on premium cigars. This is a battle that has been ongoing for many years. Unfortunately, the FDA has elected to regulate under Option 1, the harshest of the proposed options. Some of the impacts of this ruling include an arbitrary "grandfathered-in" date of 2007, an undisclosed approval process (with a TBD price tag), the prohibition of free samples, and new regulations on warning labels. This almost certainly removes seasonal blends from the shelves, and will undoubtedly make for less frequent releases, limited selection of both brand and blend, and increased prices. It's no secret that many popular blends today (including JA3) are produced by small, boutique brands and that an approval fee (commentator estimates have ranged from $50,000 - $450,000 per blend) can effectively stand as a death sentence for many. What the FDA fails to recognize is that this is an attack on the over 35,000 US workers, hundreds of domestic and international businesses, and over 300,000 workers in the Caribbean Basin involved in the cigar industry.
When we launched our first blend several years ago, we understood the risks of this industry. We've battled with smoking bans, shipping embargos, and a few rude Instagram comments. While we had hoped a federal ruling was far away, we simply do not have that luxury.
So, where does this ruling leave JA3 Cigars? A lot of that is left to be determined. Hope is not lost. There is still a chance for Congress to step in, and IPCPR has suggested litigation to prevent the rule from being enacted. What we do know is that we are not done. We will continue to market our brand so long as it is legal to do so. We will continue our planned 2016 release and JA3 Cigars will remain on shelves. We will not let the FDA scare us into submission before the dust has settled, and we refuse to give up on the industry that we've dedicated so much to and learned so much from.
Now is the time to act!
There are many ongoing efforts to prevent this ruling from becoming fully enacted. We urge you to reach out to Congress and to stay up-to-date with the latest from IPCPR. Now is also the time to join The Cigar Rights of America and keep updated on their ongoing efforts.
There's still a lot to be determined in the next few months before the FDA regulation is scheduled to take effect, but we remain hopeful. For the latest news follow @JA3Cigars on twitter.