Are Cuban cigars still the best? If you ask actual aficionados the previous question, you’ll more and more hear No.
Those in the know say a mere box of Cubans is increasingly all over the map in terms of quality. And when you think about it, none of this is surprising. Decades of communism will gradually, or more often very quickly, sap the vitality of any industry sector.
Yet despite the inconsistency of Cuba’s most famous export, the country’s cigars still have a de rigueur quality to them. There’s quite simply something very magical about lighting up a Cuban. Readers can likely guess why. A decades-long embargo on scant Cuban production has wrapped its cigars in a halo of mystery. We want we can’t have in a sense. Under the table sales of Cuban cigars reflect this truth.
The excitement of a rare, “embargoed” Cuban cigar is difficult to keep out of mind with the FDA’s proposed ban of flavored cigars well in mind. What an obnoxious bit of governmental overreach by the unelected. The regulatory agency’s disdain for consumer choice is astounding. After that, can the FDA’s nannys truly be serious?
Naturally the proposed ban is wrapped in oh-so-predictable Washington sanctimony. It’s all about the children, don’t you know? In presuming to clear the shelves of a product it deems harmful, the FDA contends it will protect young people from a bad, health-compromising habit. The FDA fails in too many ways to count here, but with brevity in mind this opinion piece will zero in on two.
For one, the percentage of young Americans who enjoy flavored cigars is almost too small to calculate. The speculation here as to the why behind youthful indifference to a product that’s highly popular with the adults is that flavored cigars are popular with adults. Young people cling to their youth aggressively, which means they’re not about to take on an activity that ages them in a figurative sense.
For two, consider the ongoing appeal of Cuban cigars despite the quality of them having failed to keep up with past reputation: mystery sells. To censor is to amplify. To ban in Boston is to boost sales of what’s banned. Insert your cliché here, or anywhere you like. If the FDA’s goal is to protect America’s youth, the last thing it would do is ban what it aims to keep out of youthful hands. Think about it.
With age comes wisdom, which means the adults who presently enjoy flavored cigars will likely switch their habit to something that’s legal. Again, wisdom. Or not. Cigar smokers generally don’t inhale. Get it? But what about young people? It’s almost a waste of words to write that banned anything will bring with it greater appeal. It’s not just that the FDA’s actions amount to a solution in search of a problem, it’s that the solution will arguably create a problem that didn’t previously exist. After which, responsible adults will have a joyful habit criminalized.
Which brings us to this piece’s conclusion. While young people are plainly indifferent to flavored cigars, their elders enjoy them to the tune of $13 billion in annual sales that support over 16,000 jobs. If we ignore how a ban will aggrandize what young people are plainly indifferent to, we can’t ignore what the ban would do to a sizable industry and those working within it. In short, the FDA’s solution in search of a problem sets the stage for problems well beyond young people discovering what they previously weren’t interested in.