Connecticut Legislators Seek Protection of State’s Name in Cigars

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Three Connecticut legislators are seeking to protect the tobacco grown in their state from what they describe as unfair and deceptive mislabeling practices by foreign tobacco growers that is endangering the economic vitality of Connecticut’s tobacco growers.

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, D-Conn.; U.S. Representative John Larson, D-East Hartford; and U.S. Representative Joe Courtney, D-Vernon co-authored a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that says they have heard from constituents who feel that foreign tobacco growers are selling tobacco mislabeled as Connecticut products and as such undercutting farmers in the state, according to a press release issued by Sen. Murphy’s office.

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“Connecticut shade tobacco seeds are now not only grown in Connecticut and other areas of the Northeast, but also in Ecuador and other parts of Central and Latin America,” the letter states. “Different soils and climate conditions cause cigars made with U.S. Connecticut shade tobacco to taste vastly different than foreign grown Connecticut shade tobacco, despite the fact that the seeds may be the same. However, labels on these cigars are often unclear as to the origin of the shade tobacco. Furthermore, labels contain the word ‘Connecticut’ regardless of where the tobacco is grown, further confusing consumers and undercutting Connecticut growers.”

The letter was sent to the two agencies as they oversee enforcing existing regulations on tobacco labeling and advertising. It goes on to say that “Under 15 U.S. Code § 45, the FTC has broad authority to prevent ‘unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce’. Furthermore, under Section 903 of the Tobacco Control Act a tobacco product can be deemed misbranded if its advertising is false or misleading. Given these existing authorities and the responsibilities of your agencies, we urge you to investigate the misbranding of Connecticut shade tobacco products and take action to curb this deceptive practice.”

The full text of the letter appears below.

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I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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