Congresswoman Hirono’s Response To HR 1639

Dear Hawaii Cigar Association Member,

Knowing of your interest in H.R. 1639, the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act, I wanted to let you know that I recently signed on as a cosponsor of the bill.

Small businesses are the backbone of Hawaii’s economy. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), small businesses account for 97 percent of all the employers in Hawaii, who in turn provide jobs for over 56 percent of Hawaii’s private-sector workforce. Throughout my career in public service I have worked to support policies that allow Hawaii’s entrepreneurs to develop their ideas, innovate, and grow our state’s economy. 

Cosponsoring H.R. 1639 is the result of hearing from constituents like you and seeing there are some common-sense things we can do here to help.

The issue is some cigarette companies are using a loophole to call their products ‘cigars’ and avoid regulations. 

As an original cosponsor of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009, I don’t want to see cigarette companies marketing to children.  

What today’s bipartisan bill does is make some common-sense clarifications to define expensive ‘traditional large and premium cigars’ which are too costly for children and are targeted at a high-end adult market. This definition helps distinguish luxury cigars from mass-produced and cheap flavored cigarettes, ‘little cigars,’ and ‘cigarillos’ which are attractive to children. The FDA should move forward with regulating those cheaper products to keep them out of our kids’ hands. 

Luxury cigars are a small and distinct part of the cigar industry, much like brewers of craft beers. This bill helps make sure that small businesses, like the Kauai Cigar Company, are able to continue operating as they are currently.

H.R. 1639 has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, of which I am not a member. Please be assured that I will continue working to see this measure advanced during the 112th Congress.

If you would like to stay in touch with me on this or other issues of importance to you, please visit my website at http://hirono.house.gov and sign up to receive my regular e-mail updates. Please do not hesitate to contact me again in the future if I may be of assistance to you in any way.

Sincerely,

Mazie K. Hirono
Member of Congress