FDA Can No Longer Regulate Premium Cigars, Court Says

Ruling vacates agency’s deeming regulations that pertain to certain products
Photograph: Shutterstock

The Food and Drug Administration cannot regulate premium cigars, according to a Wednesday ruling.  

Judge Amit Mehta of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a ruling that vacates the FDA’s deeming regulations that pertain to premium cigars, according to a court document provided by the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO).

This decision comes after a seven-year lawsuit filed by the Cigar Association of America, the Premium Cigar Association and the Cigar Rights of America against the FDA challenging the inclusion of premium cigars in the deeming regulations, NATO said.

Premium cigars are defined, in part, as cigars that are wrapped in whole tobacco leaf, contain a 100% leaf tobacco binder, are handmade or hand rolled and do not have a characterizing flavor other than tobacco. They’re typically sold in humidors and in specialty stores, rather than the mass-produced machine-rolled cigars typically sold at convenience stores, the New York Times reported.

The FDA was granted authority over e-cigarettes, cigars and hookah products when the deeming rule took effect on Aug. 8, 2016. The Tobacco Control Act of 2009 allowed the FDA to pick which products other than cigarettes and smokeless tobacco that were subject to the law.  

Mehta said a year ago that the FDA’s decision to include premium cigars in the deeming regulations was arbitrary and capricious because the agency did not consider data submitted to it about the use of premium cigars and their health effects.

The FDA told CSP it does not comment on litigation. 

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