New House Bill Introduced to Exempt Premium Cigars from FDA Regulation

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Over three months after a bill was first reintroduced in the Senate, a bill has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would exempt premium cigar from regulation by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

Earlier today, Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., has introduced H.R. 1854, which is not identical to S.9, the Senate bill introduced in January.

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They both exempt premium cigars, however, the new bill would not allow cigars with flavor additives to be considered premium. The Senate bill includes no language on flavored tobacco.

  • wrapped in 100 percent leaf tobacco;
  • bunched with 100 percent tobacco filler;
  • contains no filter, tip or non-tobacco mouthpiece;
    contains no filter, tip, flavor additive, or non-tobacco mouthpiece,
  • weighs at least 6 pounds per 1,000 count, and:
    • has a 100 percent leaf tobacco binder and is hand rolled;
    • has a 100 percent leaf tobacco binder and is made using human hands to lay the leaf tobacco wrapper or binder onto only one machine that bunches, wraps, and caps each individual cigar; or
    • 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;
  • 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)).

The previous House bill, H.R. 564, ultimately received 150 total sponsors. H.R. 1854 has 25 bi-partisan co-sponsors.

H.R. 1854 is not expected to pass. Bills like this are used to explain the unique nature of premium cigars and the impact of FDA regulation. The support from legislators is then used to show the executive branch—either FDA itself or the White House—that there is congressional support for the exemption. There is also the hope that the language in the bill makes it into the larger spending package Congress takes up late in the year known as the omnibus.

“H.R. 1854 is bipartisan legislation that is a companion to S. 7, which Senator Marco Rubio introduced in the U.S. Senate earlier this year,” said Drew Newman, general counsel of J.C. Newman, in a statement to halfwheel. “We are very hopeful that Congress will enact this legislation this year to clarify that it is has never been Congress’s intent for FDA to regulate the premium cigar industry out of business.”

Update — Added the draft text, which excludes flavored cigars.

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Charlie Minato
About the author

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.

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