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Cigar Rights of America (CRA)

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

The Cigar Rights of America (CRA) was founded in 2008 as a grass-roots organization whose primary objective is to protect your freedom to smoke cigars. The CRA is comprised of cigar companies, retailers, and consumers who advocate collectively on behalf of the cigar industry and its patrons to fight punitive taxation, government regulation, and widespread smoking bans. Premium cigars are frequently misunderstood by the public and politicians due to the negative perception of “big tobacco” created by cigarette and vape manufacturers.

What Does the Cigar Rights of America Do?

In addition to spreading awareness of unwarranted cigar regulation to cigar consumers, one of the aims of the CRA is to educate legislators and the public on the differences between premium cigars and other forms of smoking and products that contain nicotine. Were it not for the efforts of the CRA, public cigar smoking could become a thing of the past as anti-tobacco fanatics and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) seek to eliminate all forms of tobacco use at federal, state, county, and municipal levels. Much of their rationale is rooted in an agenda to “protect children” from nicotine addiction and tobacco use.

The CRA, however, has been instrumental in distinguishing premium cigars from machine-made cigars, flavored cigars, and other forms of tobacco in the eyes of legislators. The CRA has demonstrated premium cigars are enjoyed by adults in moderation and should, therefore, not be subjected to a one-size-fits-all regulatory process.

How “Premium Cigars” Are Different

To meet the definition of “premium,” a cigar must adhere to the following criteria:

  1. Be wrapped in whole tobacco leaf.
  2. Contains 100% leaf tobacco binder.
  3. Contains at least 50% (of the filler by weight) long-filler tobacco (whole-leaf tobacco that runs the length of the cigar).
  4. Is handmade or hand-rolled (no machinery was used in its manufacture).
  5. Has no filter, non-tobacco tip, or non-tobacco mouthpiece.
  6. Does not have a characterizing flavor other than tobacco.
  7. Contains only tobacco, water, and vegetable gum with no other ingredients or additives.
  8. Weighs more than 6 pounds per 1,000 units. 

In a lawsuit filed by three cigar industry trade groups against the FDA, the CRA was instrumental in securing a pivotal legal victory in August of 2023, convincing Judge Amit P. Mehta of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia that the FDA failed to properly evaluate whether “premium cigars” are different from other forms of cigars. FDA’s failure prompted Judge Mehta to vacate the rule, meaning earlier established FDA deeming regulations would not apply to “premium cigars.” In short, premium cigars have been exempted from FDA regulation for the time being. The CRA spent millions of dollars to achieve this victory, but the fight is never over. The FDA has appealed the decision. The CRA’s founders and members rely on the support of cigar manufacturers, retailers, and consumers to continue protecting premium cigars from being taxed and regulated out of existence.

Uniting Cigar-makers, Retailers, & Consumers

The CRA is operated by a small but effective group. The CRA’s current Executive Director, Mike Copperman, works with a Government Regulatory Specialist and a Membership Director to guide CRA initiatives and manage and grow the organization’s membership.

Additionally, a handful of prominent cigar companies loyally contribute to the CRA’s outreach, lobbying, and legal objectives, including Arturo Fuente, Ashton, Padrón, Oliva, Rocky Patel, Tatuaje, J.C. Newman, and La Flor Dominicana. You can also find retailers in your area who support the CRA featured on the organization’s list of Great American Cigar Shops.

Why You Should Join the Cigar Rights of America

Joining the CRA is the best way to stay abreast of legislative developments that affect cigar lovers locally and nationally. Municipal smoking bans, for example, frequently spread to neighboring towns by lawmakers who seek to “equalize” smoking restrictions in their respective cities and counties. Anti-smoking groups subvert longstanding federal and state laws by attacking the freedoms of cigar lovers on a local level. Consumers are easily caught off guard in this scenario.

When you join the CRA, you’ll be informed of local and national efforts designed to intrude on your enjoyment of cigars and discover which legislators you should support to protect your rights. We encourage cigar lovers everywhere to donate to the CRA and subscribe to the CRA newsletter to stay informed.

Cigar Rights of America Freedom Cigar Sampler

One of the most popular ways to support the CRA is by purchasing a Freedom Cigar Sampler. Twice a year, the CRA releases a limited-edition cigar sampler of hard-to-find cigars, some of which are exclusively created for the CRA. For spring 2024, the CRA Freedom Sampler features 10 cigars, including Fuente Fuente Opus X, Ashton Cabinet Selection, My Father Garcia & Garcia, Padrón Black, Oliva Serie V Melanio Edición Ano, La Flor Dominicana Andalusian Bull, Diamond Crown Maximus, E.P. Carrillo Allegiance, Tatuaje Smashed Pumpkin Reserva Broadleaf, and Rocky Patel A.L.R. Second Edition. Each assortment comes in a resealable sleeve with a Boveda humidification pack. Order one before they’re sold out and support an essential cause for premium cigars today!


CRA Freedom Sampler

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