But the timing and likelihood of congressional relief for premium cigars are far from certain. The most likely pathway for such action would be through something such as the Agriculture Appropriations Bill; however, previous attempts to do so have failed. Likewise, previously introduced bills with nearly identical language as laid out in HR 564 have gone nowhere.
It’s possible that Mulvaney or President Trump himself could protect premium cigars independently of Congress. However, there is no timetable for such action.
If premium cigars were to be exempt from FDA regulations, it’s unclear what effect—if any—it would have on the convenience industry. Because premium still makes up a very small part of the average c-store tobacco set, some might argue any benefit would be negligible. However, the advent of foil pouches has allowed more convenience retailers to get into the premium business and enjoy the higher price point and margins the segment offers.
Glynn Loope, executive director of Cigar Rights of America, Washington, D.C., has argued that exempting premium cigars from FDA regulation would be good for the tobacco industry as a whole.
“Since 2011, this legislation has served as a platform to convey the threat such regulations could pose to the premium-cigar industry,” Loope said. “Now that threat is reality, and Congress, in concert with the new administration, [needs] to advance measures that can not only mitigate the damage of the rules in front of us, but to ensure protection from rules yet to come.”