A bill that would exempt premium cigars from regulation by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has been reintroduced by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

The new bill is S.9, which is identical to S.294, a bill introduced in the previous Congress.

Like S.294, the current bill exempts premium cigars, which are defined as:

  • wrapped in 100 percent leaf tobacco;
  • bunched with 100 percent tobacco filler;
  • contains no filter, tip 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)).

Along with Rubio, there are nine other co-sponsors of the S.9.

  • Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo.
  • Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark.
  • Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa.
  • Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.
  • Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa
  • Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo.
  • Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla.
  • Sen. John Kennedy, R-La.
  • Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
  • Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.

The last version of the bill ultimately received a total of 22 sponsors, the same number as the previous version of the bill, S.441, received in the 114th Congress.

It’s highly unlikely that S.9 will 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.

The most likely scenario for actual action by Congress is by adding language to bills that fund FDA. The stand-alone bills are also used to further those efforts.

Featured Image: By Scrumshus (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Update (Jan. 9, 2019) — Added text of the bill and updated co-sponsor list. This post was originally published on Jan. 4, 2019.

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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 have written about the cigar industry for more than a decade, covering everything from product launches to regulation to M&A. In addition, I handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff here at halfwheel. I enjoy playing tennis, watching boxing, falling asleep to the Le Mans 24, wearing sweatshirts year-round and eating gyros. echte liebe.