People are always whining about how Congress doesn't do anything, pointing out annoying "statistics" like that its approval rating is at negative 3 percent or whatever. But Republican Rep. Bill Posey and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson are doing something, don't you worry. They're taking a noble stand in the 2013 House Agriculture Appropriations Bill. No, it's not about horse slaughter or food safety -- it's about... heavy cigars.
In 2009, Congress gave the Food and Drug Administration the ability to regulate tobacco products, partly to encourage increased disclosure of ingredients and dangers but also to implement more measures that would reduce the number of teens who smoke -- banning candy-flavored cigars, for example. Nelson (and Republican Sen. Mel Martinez) voted for it. Now, Nelson and Posey wants to give some companies a break.
They're pushing for a loophole that would exempt "premium cigars" from regulation, according to Florida Today:
Advocates of the bills say premium cigars aren't like other tobacco products -- they're the heavier, higher-quality, more expensive brands that adults smoke occasionally, for pleasure or to celebrate a special occasion.
Opponents have pointed out that the loophole applies to "any roll of tobacco that is wrapped in leaf tobacco, contains no filter, and weighs at least 6 pounds per 1,000 count," which means that cigar manufacturers can get around regulation by using whole-leaf tobacco instead of the paper wrapper that cheaper, machine-made cigars usually use. Some have also said the wording is vague enough that companies could get around it without even doing that.
"I think [the wording is] adequate," Posey told Florida Today. "You don't need to use a cannon to kill a sparrow.''
The question remains, however -- why kill the sparrow in the first place?
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