FDA Reprieve for Premium Cigars?

Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

Rep. Bill Posey

WASHINGTON -- House lawmakers recently reintroduced a new version of a bill that would pull premium cigars out from under the ominous FDA “deeming” rules, easing potential restrictions on new product development.

Earlier this month, Rep. Bill Posey, R-Fla., above, reintroduced the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act, according to the Washington, D.C.-based International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR). The legislation’s purpose is to both define what constitutes a “premium cigar” and exempts the product category from regulations now in place under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) final rule, IPCPR officials said.

The bill is identical to its predecessor in the 114th Congress, HR 662, which had the support of 170 members of the House of Representatives. Like HR 662 and similar, previous bills, Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., is again serving as the primary Democrat co-sponsor on the legislation.

Under the provisions of the act, a cigar is “premium” and exempt from the rule if it meets several strict definitions ...

Raw ingredients

Man smoking cigar

It must be wrapped in 100% leaf tobacco and bunched in 100% tobacco filler.

No filters

No-filter cigar

It cannot contain a filter, tip or nontobacco mouthpiece.

Weight requirement

Cigar on table

It must weigh at least six pounds per 1,000 count.

Hand rolled

Hand-rolled cigars

It has 100% tobacco binder and is hand rolled or is made with human hands. A person must lay the wrapper or binder onto one machine that bunches, wraps and caps the individual cigars as one of several similar requirements.

Since the FDA’s deeming rule went into effect on Aug. 8, 2016, premium cigar and pipe-tobacco manufacturers and retailers have been left to adopt new compliance measures, and to absorb significant costs in order to meet the new requirements, said IPCPR officials.