In the same week that saw a joint CRA/IPCPR petition reach its 25,000 signature goal, cigar smokers got some very bad news regarding efforts to keep cigars outside of FDA control. Last week, the Senate Committee on Appropriations approved the FY13 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration; and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill 28-1 with one Senator not voting, moving the bill to the Senate floor where a full vote will take place for its approval. As noted in this press release, the bill contains language that would “encourage the FDA to asset its authority” over cigars under the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.
Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), who put out the press release, argued that these efforts were taken to curb the use of flavored cigars, although the provision would encourage the FDA to take “regulatory authority over tobacco products — including cigars.”
Of the 16 Democrats and 14 Republicans who make up the Senate Committee on Appropriations are half of the co-sponsors for Senate Bill S.1461, a proposed piece of legislation that would exempt the premium cigar industry from FDA control, the exact opposite of the language in S.2375, the appropriations bill.
Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) are all co-sponsors of S.1461 and all three voted to approve the larger appropriations bill.
In addition, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who earlier this year met with cigar makers and retailers at J.C. Newman’s Tampa-based factory, voted for the bill.