Federal regulators now have premium cigars in the regulatory crosshairs — along with the thousands who are employed in the industry. Carolina Journal’s Dan Way reports.

If Food and Drug Administration regulators adopt new regulations that would place premium, hand-made cigars under the jurisdiction of a law originally passed to regulate cigarettes, sellers of the premium cigars say the changes could put them out of business.

The federal agency is considering adding premium cigars, as well as electronic cigarettes, pipe tobacco, certain dissolvable tobacco products that are not “smokeless tobacco,” nicotine gels, and water pipe tobacco to the Family Tobacco Prevention and Control Act of 2009.

This has the makers and sellers of premium cigars in North Carolina concerned.

Premium, hand-made cigars, unlike cigarettes and mass-produced stogies made by machine, are 100 percent tobacco and do not contain the additives that are the chief concern of the FDA, though some blends may add flavoring. Cigarettes, however, may have hundreds of additives.

Tom Kakadelis, who owns two premium cigar stores in Charlotte, was hoping to expand his small, hand-made cigar business, but if the proposed new regulations apply to premium cigars they could become too expensive to carry in his shop, causing him, and other small shop owners, who employ tens of thousands of people nationwide, to shut their doors.

Just what the sputtering national economy needs, right?