Producers of premium cigars made by hand in the DR request exception in proposed FDA regulation
President Danilo Medina received producers of handmade premium cigars in the country, who expressed their concern about a proposal for regulation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA, for its acronym in English). The standards, which would be implemented by the United States government agency responsible for food regulation with respect to premium cigars, would represent a great challenge for the premium cigar industry in the Dominican Republic.
In the meeting, which took place in the Private Room of the National Palace, participated Carlitos Fuente and Ciro Cascella, from the Fuente Tabacalera; Litto Gómez, from La Flor Dominicana; Jochy Blanco, from La Tabacalera La Palma; and Alfredo Gómez, from Tabacos de Villa González.
New regulatory approach that recognizes differences with other tobacco products
These producers stated that the regulation that the FDA intends to implement does not recognize the fundamental differences between premium quality artisanal cigars and other tobacco products. By virtue of this, they considered that it would be prudent and convenient to request the government of the United States to establish an exception with hand-made premium cigars. The implementation of these regulations would represent a threat to an industry that is a cornerstone of the Dominican economy, with more than 300,000 families benefiting directly. In addition, the reasons for submitting premium cigars to regulation revolve around two direct issues: the use of young people and the impact on public health. However, multiple studies such as the National Tobacco Survey for Adults 2013 and the National Longitudinal Mortality Study of 1973-2011 show that the levels of use of premium cigars by young people and of health risks are statistically insignificant, compared to other tobacco products.
These findings have been confirmed in articles published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The government of the Dominican Republic encourages the FDA to take these studies into account, as they demonstrate the need for a new regulatory approach for premium cigars made by hand. He is also concerned about the economic impact that FDA regulations would have on employment and manufacturing in our country. Regulations such as pre-market approval, new user fees, onerous warnings, among other rules, would affect the centenary and traditional Dominican tobacco industry that generate more than 300 thousand jobs and millions of dollars in export earnings.
Reason for national pride
The handmade cigars have granted the country a position of world leader, thanks to the competitive environment offered by the free zones regime.
In particular, the province of Santiago has become the capital of tobacco, one of the main exports, supplying 30% of global demand.
During the period 2012-2018, cigar exports doubled, reaching the figure of 850 million dollars in 2018. For this year, it is estimated that these exports reach the sum of 1,000 million dollars. Dominican Republic has a tradition of growing tobacco. Their cigars are the most popular in the United States, one of the countries with the strongest tobacco roots in the world. Our country exports more than 90 percent of the tobacco it produces, both raw and manufactured in cigars. With a significant proportion of domestic exports, tobacco and its manufactured goods have generated US $ 846 million in different markets.
More than 3,000 producers work with tobacco cultivation with an impact of 300,000 to 350,000 beneficiaries. This means a generation of more than 300,000 direct jobs.
Currently, in the country there are about 93 companies dedicated to the production, industrialization and export of Dominican tobacco, with 75% of these free zones and the remaining 25% private capital. More than 7,000 million cigar units are produced annually, of which 260 million correspond to premium cigars or handcrafted cigars. 90% of handmade cigars in the Dominican Republic go to the United States. In the last six years, the management of Danilo Medina has implemented public policies to improve the production of Dominican tobacco in the hands of rural producers and private companies. The Dominican government has contributed to the implementation of new technologies that allow obtaining quality tobacco, with which the country can continue to maintain its reputation as the best tobacco in the world.
To view the release from the Office of President Medina, click here.
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