Last week, Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., introduced H.R.3982, another bill aimed at exempting premium cigars from FDA regulations.
It’s a companion bill to S.438—which was introduced in the Senate in February—and another in a long line of bills that call for “premium” cigars to be exempted from regulations by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). In reality, H.R.3982 has little chance of passing, but it will serve two main purposes. First, it will give the cigar industry a chance to talk to members of Congress about the importance of an exemption for premium cigars. Secondly, the language in the bill has a chance to be included in larger pieces of legislation, specifically, a future funding bill that will set the budget for FDA.
While the text of H.R.3982 has not been released, it’s described as identical to H.R.1854, a bill introduced by Castor in 2019. That bill would have exempted cigars that met the following qualifications:
- `(i) means any roll of tobacco that is wrapped in 100 percent leaf tobacco, bunched with 100 percent tobacco filler, contains no filter, tip, flavor additive, or non-tobacco mouthpiece, weighs at least 6 pounds per 1,000 count, and–
- “(I) has a 100 percent leaf tobacco binder and is hand rolled; or
- “(II) has a homogenized tobacco leaf binder and is made in the United States using human hands to lay the 100 percent leaf tobacco wrapper onto only one machine that bunches, wraps, and caps each individual cigar; and
- “(ii) does not include a cigarette (as such term is defined by section 900(3)) or a little cigar (as such term is defined by section 900(11)).”.
This definition differed from the 2019 Senate bill—which would have allowed for flavored cigars to be exempt—though is actually the language used by the current Senate bill. The language used in Castor’s bills is similar to a definition used last year by FDA as part of its decision to delay the enforcement of substantial equivalence for certain cigars defined as “premium.” The agency has since taken the position that it has not approved a definition of “premium cigars.”
Currently, Castor’s new bill has one another co-sponsor, Rep. Bill Posey, R.-Fla. The bill introduced by Castor in 2019, H.R.1854, garnered 84 co-sponsors before the legislative session expired.