And now for some good news from Washington D.C.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a massive spending bill that includes language that would exempt premium cigars from regulation by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
It comes with a few caveats.
First and foremost, the Senate will need to agree to the House bill, which includes a dozen different spending bills that help fund the government. Secondly, even if passed and signed by President Donald Trump, the exemption would only be for FY2018, Oct.1, 2017-Sept. 30, 2018.
Congress has until Dec. 8 to pass the omnibus to avoid the government running out of money.
Finally, it would only apply to cigars that are deemed as “premium cigars.” This would cover the vast majority, but not all, cigars you see at a typical cigar store:
(1) any roll of tobacco that is wrapped in 100 percent leaf tobacco, bunched with 100 percent tobacco filler, contains no filter, tip or non-tobacco mouthpiece, weighs at least 6 pounds per 1,000 count, and—
(A) has a 100 percent leaf tobacco binder and is hand rolled;
(B) has a 100 percent leaf tobacco binder and is made using human hands to lay the leaf tobacco wrapper or binder onto only one ma- chine that bunches, wraps, and caps each individual cigar; or
(C) 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
(2) is not a cigarette or a little cigar (as such terms are defined in paragraphs (3) and (11), re- spectively, of section 900 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act).
This marks the first time that a cigar exemption has passed a vote by either the full House of Representatives or Senate. Similar legislation has passed various committees and subcomittees, but was removed by the time the legislation went to a full vote.
“This is a monumental step for the industry and for IPCPR’s retailers,” said Ken Neumann, president of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR), in a press release. “For many years we’ve been pushing the ball forward in our efforts to roll back the FDA’s oversized and ill-suited regulatory regime on premium cigars. Because of this work and because there are Members of Congress like Congressmen Bob Aderholt, Bill Posey and Congresswoman Kathy Castor who fight every day for small businesses and the premium cigar retailers across the country, we’re now on the precipice of bringing true relief to our industry.”