As early as next week, the Biden administration could announce plans to limit nicotine levels in cigarettes.

According to a report from the Wall Street Journalthe White House “intends to pursue a policy” that would limit nicotine levels in cigarettes. The policy is as simple as it sounds, the government would limit the amount of nicotine that a cigarette could have.

Whether it will affect cigars is likely both answered by yes and no. It seems unlikely that the first generation of the policy—the one discussed now—would affect cigars. However, if nicotine limits become law for cigarettes, it would set the stage for the regulation to eventually be applied to cigars.

The reason why cigars are unlikely to be part of this policy is that this proposal is not completely new. In March 2018, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) on the topic. While cigars were mentioned in the 2018 ANPRM, it was in the context of FDA asking whether people felt like the nicotine limits should apply to other products like cigars. FDA’s proposal was framed as nicotine limits for cigarettes.

That 2018 announcement was FDA informing the public and industry what it was thinking about potential new regulations. That said, it was also a signal that such a policy would be on the table.

Like pretty much every rule FDA will attempt to introduce regarding tobacco regulation, the next steps are likely to be lengthy and highly contested. FDA would then need to publish a proposed rule, which would give a more formalized proposal of what the agency intends to do. Like what is currently happening regarding separate proposed rules regarding flavored cigars and menthol cigarettes, the public and industry would then be given time to comment on the proposal.

After that, FDA is required to reply to the commenting process—though not every comment made—before it announces a final rule, which would be the last step the agency needs to do before actually enacting a new law.

That process only describes what FDA would need to do and does not take into account what would be inevitable, well-funded legal challenges against the nicotine standards law.

Charlie Minato

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.