It seems the Government just can’t get things right. Even with the the current set of regulations that the FDA is trying to slap on the premium cigar industry, lawmakers this week have drafted a comprehensive bill that would extend cigarette regulations to all other tobacco products like premium cigars. The bill is the work of Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ), chairman of the Energy & Commerce Committee, along with Congresswoman Donna Shalala (D-FL). You read that right, it is being introduced as the chairman of the Energy & Commerce Committee that is because the committee has jurisdiction over health including the tobacco regulations and the FDA.
Bill H.R. 2339 is ‘To amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with respect to the sale and marketing of tobacco products, and for other purposes‘ and it will be called ‘‘Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019”. The whole concept of this new bill, as if we need a new bill, is to amend the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act which was designed to keep the country’s youth from accessing cigarettes. Of course that was not good enough for some lawmakers and now they want to include premium cigars in this also. Again, we have deeming regulations already but this is going further and is more direct.
The proposed bill is based on 5 tenants:
Raise Minimum Tobacco Purchase Age to 21
The federal Government would now make it illegal to sell any tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21. Yep, you can die for your country at 18 but you can’s smoke a fine cigar when you win a battle. In addition to HR 2339, we also learned that Senate Majority Leader, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will be introducing a Senate bill asking to raise the minimum tobacco purchase age to 21.
Ban Online Sale of All Deemed Tobacco Products
This was talked about in the original regulations, and there are numerous debates on the benefits or detriments to this idea. But if passed as written, no shop could have an online presence where they sell cigars direct to the consumer. The argument is that online sales of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products were banned in 2010, so why not include all tobacco products.
Ban Flavored Tobacco Products
This has been a bone of contention for years. The bill will officially ban any product that has added flavors, this includes menthol in cigarettes and essential oils in cigars. This would be a huge hit to companies like Drew Estate who is celebrating 20 years of the ACID line which makes up a large portion of their portfolio. If there is no grandfathering clause in the bill, and there currently is not, this could be detrimental to Drew Estate.
Increase User Fees
The FDA has imposed user fees on cigars now since 2017. The FDA uses the fees collected to regulate the business they are taxing. Yep we pay the Government to regulate us out of business. Although the lions share of the fees collected are from cigarettes, the impact on premium cigars is showing up on the shelf. Cigar companies collectively pay about $20 Million per quarter. In 2019, the FDA anticipates they will collect about $712 Million from all tobacco related products which is an increase of about $40 Million from the 2018 numbers. The new bill would increase the number by an additional $100 Million.
Advertising & Sales Restrictions
HR 2339 would extend the current cigarette advertising and sales restrictions to products like premium cigars. would also apply to premium cigars. What does this mean? Well to start with, forget about all that cool swag you get, that would be prohibited – no t-shirts, hats, ashtrays, koozies,, etc. They will not be able to sponsor events and there will be no free gifts for consideration of purchasing a tobacco product. Basically, go to your shop and buy your cigar. I am not sure how this will effect cigar media quite yet but I am sure that will be debated.
Read the Bill
The current bill in it’s entirety can be read here –
Stogie Press along with the IPCPR, CRA, and the Premium Cigar Industry ask you to write your representatives and voice you concerns for the impact to the premium cigar industry and your lifestyle.