Before I continue with this article, it’s important to urge any reader who isn’t already a Cigar Rights of America member, to sign-up at here to support cigar rights and freedoms across the industry.
The last 36 hours have been very active for us and on social media after Cigar Aficionado posted their article titled “America’s Largest Cigarette Company Comes Out Against FDA Exemption For Handmade Cigars”.
I responded with the article “Cigar Editorial: Analyzing Altria’s Comments to the FDA”. I will be the first to acknowledge that my analysis is not the best or most complete editorial work I’ve done in my 7+ years in cigar media.
Now that I’ve had a day to sit down and properly review my original editorial statements, I hope that this follow up article provides better clarity.
My reaction was one of disappointment in the way that the coverage was handled. I’ve always looked to Cigar Aficionado for their insightful and well written coverage of the cigar industry, but I felt that their coverage lacked the depth and professionalism shown in the past. I firmly believe that as one of the most influential cigar media publications in the industry, they have an ethical responsibility to provide unbiased and detached emotional reporting.
We at Developing Palates are strong supporters of Cigar Rights of America, the IPCPR, and other pro-cigar industry groups who have worked tirelessly.
Let me also be clear that we at Developing Palates are against FDA legislation, or any anti-cigar industry legislation that seeks to limit, ban, or otherwise harm cigar manufacturers, retailers, and consumers. This includes, but is not limited to, the tens of thousands of people employed worldwide. It is an industry made up of large multi-national companies, but it is also has hundreds of small to medium sized cigar companies that have already been impacted by the FDA. The premium handmade cigar industry represents less than 1% of the total tobacco market, making it truly a cottage industry that should be protected.
I myself am employed in cigar retail in Canada, where we have seen the continued erosion of cigar rights, which have led to indoor smoking bans, preposterous cigar taxes, and an industry that is now faced with the threat of plain paper packaging.
In writing my analysis, I failed to coherently connect some of my comments on the Altria letter to the FDA. My initial statements have been construed as being personally supportive of FDA legislation, when the intent was to provide the outline as to why Altria would be pro-FDA legislation in their 9 page letter.
I stand by my statements that Altria’s pro-FDA regulation stance is logical in the context of a large multi-billion dollar company strategically trying to alter most of the contentious points already in place. Their 9 page letter has been grossly mischaracterized, and many failed to read any of their strong pro-industry statements that made for the majority of the overall statement. I have not read any publication, editorial, or commentary counterpoint to the Altria statements I quoted in my editorial.
It’s also important to note that Altria’s pro-FDA regulation stance was originally communicated in 2014 and does not represent new information. (Thanks to William Cooper of Cigar-Coop for restating that in various discussions).
I am always welcoming of passionate discussion and debate, and my hope is that anyone engaging in said debate can do so without the harassment or personal attacks that I’ve witnessed being waged across social media since Tuesday.
Cigar Editorial: The Altria Fallout – 2 Days Later