Earlier today, Margaret A. Hamburg, the commissioner of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), went before the House of Representatives to testify on a new bill regarding the e-cigarette industry. During questioning, she was asked about premium cigars.
Hamburg refused to divulge much of any details, very similar to comments made by Mitch Zeller, head of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, comments in December.
Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-Kan., asked about the threat regulation would have on family-owned brick and mortar tobacconists.
Well with respect to cigars, that would be part of the deeming rule that we would be-hopefully put forward for public comment very soon.
Certainly we have heard a variety of concerns as we have been shaping this proposed rule about aspects of cigars including premium cigars in particular. But, I think that our responsibility is to set a set of critical public health concerns, looking at the context of what is being used and how it’s being used.
We believe that-again-it is very appropriate for FDA in the context of the authorities Congress have given us for oversight of tobacco products to take that on. But then we need to work in (a) systematic way of what it looks like and how it’s implemented.
Zeller indicated that the FDA had heard the argument from the premium cigar industry that its products should be looked at different than other products, specifically that the products were not marketed towards children, not used by children and were priced and sold in a more specific manner, i.e. largely at around $10 and offered at speciality stores in humidors.
He declined to indicate whether the FDA would actually make separate rules for cigars, only that the argument had been made to the FDA.
The FDA is expected to announce a variety of changes throughout many industries in the form of a deeming document. It will outline the plans for pending regulation and allow public comment before laws are introduced.
Congress gave the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products in 2009 under the Tobacco Control Act.
Yesterday, H.R. 792, a bill that would exempt premium cigars from FDA control, reached 152 total sponsors.