There’s a new Congress, a new House bill regarding cigar regulation and now a bill in the Senate.
Yesterday, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., introduced S.441, a bill designed to exempt premium cigars from regulation by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Nelson has previously sponsored S.1461 and S.772 in the two previous congresses, both designed to do the same thing. At the time of introduction, S.441 has nine co-sponsors, five Republicans and four Democrats.
“Senators Nelson and Rubio, along with the other 8 original co-sponsors, have once again proven they are concerned about over-regulation of the premium cigar industry,” said Kip Talley, senior director of federal legislative affairs for the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR), in a statement to halfwheel.
“IPCPR remains committed to ensuring its retail members, manufacturing partners, and store customers are protected against onerous regulation by federal bureaucrats. IPCPR supports S. 442 and encourages all cigar enthusiasts to contact their U.S. Senators to urge co-sponsorship and passage of this legislation.”
Last week, similar legislation was introduced in the House as H.R. 662. The legislation comes at a critical time following the proposed deeming regulations announced by FDA last year.
Under Option One, it would regulate all cigars similar to how all tobacco products are regulated, this would include costly product compliance that would not only raise the price of cigars, but put an end to many new cigars, as well as many businesses. The FDA itself estimates that up to 50 percent of the cigar industry may not survive Option One. Under Option Two, FDA would exempt “premium cigars” based off of a definition much stricter than the one put forth in congressional legislation. Amongst the requirements for exemption: a $10 retail price, no added flavorings and only “primarily” longfiller cigars.
Public comments on the matter were accepted until last summer. At this time, FDA is reviewing the comments and is expected to put out final rulings sometime in the future, perhaps as early as this summer.
(For more information about the FDA’s proposed regulations for premium cigars, visit our microsite, halfwheel.com/fda)