The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a government agency that has no business existing, recently enacted ridiculously stringent guidelines that severely threaten the cigar smoking and pipe tobacco hobbies.

Amongst the asinine measures enacted by the FDA that went into effect last August is what amounts to a ban on charitable donations of tobacco products. Including those intended for the troops.

Via The Tampa Bay Times:

Among the regulations is what many interpret as a ban on the charitable donation of tobacco products. Premium cigarmakers and retailers like Thompson that have donated thousands of cigars each year risk fines or other sanctions if they keep giving.

Their hands, they say, are tied.

“The troops are out there putting their lives on the line to protect our freedoms, rights and privileges, and the federal government is taking away those same freedoms and rights,” said Rocky Patel, owner of Rocky Patel Premium Cigar Co. in Bonita Springs. “This is how we can give back to our country and it’s amazing the FDA unilaterally seeks to take that away. It just hurts me we’re not going to be able to do this anymore.”

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Darron Wright, deputy commander, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, smokes a cigar after crossing the border from Iraq into Kuwait, more than seven years after he drove into Iraq during the US invasion. (AP Photo/ Maya Alleruzzo)

The freeze on donations is a troubling development for Mark Van Trees.

Van Trees runs Support the Troops, a Wesley Chapel-based nonprofit organization that sends care packages to bases in locations such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

Cigars are the second-most-requested item in those packages, behind coffee and ahead of toothpaste and tube socks, Van Trees said.

“It means the world to these guys who love to sit by the fire and smoke some sticks,” Van Trees said. “This is going to put a huge hole in what we do for them.”

Retired Army Sgt. Charles Claybaker of St. Petersburg knows firsthand the joy of puffing on a fine cigar far from home.

In 2009, Claybaker was serving with a 3rd Ranger Battalion platoon at a base in a remote, mountainous part of Afghanistan when a “Support the Troops” package arrived with cigars and playing cards, among other items. As a commanding officer, Claybaker was charged with keeping up morale, and the stogies helped.

“After a long mission and you get into a firefight or something like that, it’s nice to have a cigar and play cards with your buddies,” he said. “For a few minutes, it just makes you feel like you’re back home, like you’re American again, especially in a place like Afghanistan that culturally is so extraordinarily different.” Read More…

U.S. Representative Kathy Castor (D-FL 14th District), is leading the fight in Congress to help put premium cigars back in the hands of our soldiers.

“The FDA’s regulation of individually-rolled, premium cigars in general is unreasonable and has led to unintentional, but very real consequences, like halting one of the most popular charitable donations to our troops,” Castor said in a statement, according to FOX News.

Yesterday, Castor filed H.R. 5955, a bill that would once again allow for the charitable contribution of premium cigars to U.S. soldiers serving the country around the globe.

HR 5955 is summarized as, “To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to allow the charitable distribution of traditional large and premium cigars to members of the Armed Forces, and for other purposes.”

Now 1) I would rather have our soldiers back home instead of nation building in the Middle East and 2) I’d rather see a bill that not only ends the FDA’s stupid regulations of the cigar industry but ends the FDA itself — but this is a good start. It’s not often that I get the opportunity to salute a Democrat, but kudos to you Representative Castor!