The Premium Cigar Association (PCA), one of the cigar industry’s trade groups, met with Dr. Brian King, the recently-appointed director of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Tobacco Products (CTP).
In addition to King—who was named to the post in May—PCA’s meeting included Michele Mital, the deputy director of CTP, and other staff members. PCA was represented by Scott Pearce, its executive director, Joshua Habursky, its head of legislative affairs, Patrick Anderson, a consultant, and executive committee members Greg Zimmeran, Scott Regina and Mike Conder.
According to a press release from PCA, the group argued a number of common cigar industry talking point: cigars are not used by underage users, cigars are not addictive and FDA’s current regulations of premium cigars are overreaching. It also raised new issues, namely that it believes the communication with CTP should be more frequent, complaints about “conflated data in public announcements about premium cigars,” and also pointed out that premium cigars are sold in every single Congressional district in the U.S.
The meeting with King is notable as many vaping advocates have complained about King’s lack of interviews with media; earlier today, Politico’s subscription-based vertical published an interview with King. That too has drawn criticism from the vaping world.
PCA’s meeting with CTP comes at an interesting time in the state of FDA cigar regulations. In July, the cigar industry’s joint lawsuit—PCA is a party to the suit—won a major victory against FDA and its regulation of “premium cigars.” The final outcome of that lawsuit is still pending, but a decision will either send FDA back to the drawing board regarding its regulation of “premium cigars” or could deregulate “premium cigars” altogether.
There is no deadline for when a ruling regarding the remedy, i.e. outcome, could come in the lawsuit.
“As long as the FDA remains our regulator, there needs to be productive dialogue,” said Habursky, deputy executive director and head of Government Affairs for PCA, in a press release. “The necessity for the FDA to be aggressive towards premium cigars is not prudent and we are hopeful that this personnel change will represent a departure from the past actions that were based on a one-size-fits all approach.”
The PCA says this is the first of a “series of high level meetings” that it will have; it’s mentioned that it will host staffs from “several embassies” at its Washington, D.C. headquarters later this week.