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Exemption Attempt of Premium Cigars from FDA Bill

House Appropriations Subcommittee Attempts Exemption of Premium Cigars from FDA Bill

House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture will be attempting to exempt premium cigars from the industry-dreaded FDA legislation today, April 13, 2016.
House of Representative Seal

Per the FDA website:

Despite decades of efforts to reduce tobacco use, it continues to be the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States. To address this public health problem, FDA proposes extending its authority to cover additional products that meet the definition of a tobacco product under the proposed rule: Tobacco Products Deemed To Be Subject to the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act (Deeming).

Currently FDA regulates cigarettes, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco. Proposed newly “deemed” products would include electronic cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, certain dissolvables that are not “smokeless tobacco,” gels, and waterpipe tobacco.

Once the proposed rule becomes final, FDA will be able to use powerful regulatory tools, such as age restrictions and rigorous scientific review of new tobacco products and claims to reduce tobacco-related disease and death.

How does this Impact the Cigar Industry & the Cigar Smoker

This means the FDA would govern, control, and require testing of cigars, just as is already does with cigarettes. Pre-2012 (not able to confirm the year, so this could be off by a year or two) would be exempt. Cigar testing is the major issue to the industry in this legislation. The burden of cost for testing post-2012 releases is on the cigar manufacturer. And this amounts to tens-of-thousands of dollars (the speculated amount has varied over the past year from a high $50K to a low $20K) per cigar size. So if there are five sizes in a specific cigar line, it would cost $100,000 to $250,000 to have them tested and approved, or not, by the FDA.

What this would Mean to the Industry

This could potentially mean the death of many boutique cigar manufacturers as well as fewer new cigars going to the market. And expect those costs, of course, to be passed along to the cigar smoker in the form of higher–much higher– prices.

I have no issue with age restrictions as I doubt any of us do. But this could well be an industry crippling bill due to the testing cost of each individual size in each cigar line. Did the FDA even attempt to have a few cigars tested on their own prior to pushing for this legislation? At least then they could show some data to prove that cigars need to be tested in the first place!

Electronic cigarettes? Diluted nicotine, propylene glycol (organic chemical compound) or vegetable glycerin and often flavoring. And who knows what else is in there! So, yes, I believe this should require some testing, and anyone smoking a vapor product should want to know. But cigars that are all natural leaf? No. The only caveat to that broad statement is the potential for pesticide residue in the cigar leaves, and I have no firsthand knowledge of what most growers use (organic or chemical) and, if so, how and if the pesticide is removed or greatly reduced during the preparation and curing process. I welcome any comments from those that are knowledgeable on the subject.

So, let’s hope the House Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture pushes through an exemption on premium cigars from the new legislation.

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