A second U.S. Representative has spoken up in the discussion over whether or not it would be a violation of newly enacted FDA regulations for a cigar retailer of manufacturer to send cigars to members of the military on active duty.
On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., wrote a letter to FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf in an attempt to seek clarification on whether or not the agency intended to bring an end to “a time-honored tradition of donating tobacco products to service member, often while deployed.”
Hunter, a Major in the U.S. Marine Corps who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, went on to write that “these donations routinely improve morale and serve to relieve stress. It would be unacceptable for the the FDA to prohibit the distribution of tobacco products to service members who are fighting to protect those very rights that may now be restricted.”
He closed the letter by demanding both clarification of the regulations and should FDA clarify that donations are prohibited, that the agency provide a detailed justification for its actions.
The letter from Hunter, who is also a member of the House Armed Services Committee, comes as Congress returns to work following its summer recess, and on the heels of Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., promising to introduce a bill into the U.S. House of Representatives that will ensure that cigar manufacturers and retailers will be able to continue sending cigars to troops.
While there is nothing in FDA’s regulations that explicitly prohibits sending cigars to troops, there is a ban on the distribution of free samples by retailers and manufacturers, and some in the industry are choosing to take the strictest interpretation of the regulation, and thus cutting off shipments of cigars to troops.
The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) is also advising its members to take a strict interpretation of the regulation, choosing to advise them out of concern for the membership’s best interest and reducing exposure to possible fines or other punishments until the vagueness of the regulation can be resolved.
Photo by Photo by Cpl. Christopher Stone, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.