It’s been a busy week in Washington, D.C., what with all the hoopla and such about the healthcare, administration shakeups, and the never-ending Russia story. One thing that is not talked much about on the left or right mainstream news is the latest with regards to cigar regulation. Sometimes the only way the cigar business gets attention is when something big happens in the cigarette industry, then they seem to fold a few sentences in that article about cigars. Well that happened twice this past week. Once with the announcement about the vape industry losing a court battle against the FDA and the second was Friday, when the FDA announced they are considering a new regulation to limit the amount of nicotine in cigarettes.
The Vape news was looked on as a bleak reminder that we in the Cigar Business may never prevail in the court system. Even though the vape argument was slightly different from the premium cigar lawsuit, it still showed how the court sides with the FDA. Then came Friday’s announcement about cigarette nicotine levels. and buried in that story line was a welcome glimpse of hope for the premium cigar industry. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) director , Dr. Scott Gottlieb, made a speech about the nicotine topic and took time to note a few other regulation changes.
The most important of these changes was the extension of the pre-market applications deadline for a cigar manufacturer. That date has been pushed out to August 2021. Yes, that 4 more years, and those cigars that were on the market prior to the August 8, 2016 can stay on the market until the 2021 date. Wow, that was certainly a welcome announcement. This means the smaller brands, that entered the space in the past few years, can continue to market and sell their brand and existing blends.
The other part of this story was Dr. Gottlieb’s hint that the Premium Cigar industry may have a chance of being exempt from the deeming regulations. In the speech he noted:
“Among other things we will advance rules that will lay out what needs to be in applications for substantial equivalence, modified risk tobacco products, and pre-market tobacco product applications, and whether and how we would exempt premium cigars from regulation,”
There it is, in black and white, “how we would exempt premium cigars from regulation”.
Dr. Gottlieb also stated that he has asked the tobacco center leadership:
“… to explore a process by which it could ask for new information related to the patterns of use and resulting public health impact of so-called premium cigars,”
That, my brothers and sisters of the leaf, is exactly what we have fought for from the beginning. As small as our voice may be in the din of D.C. noise, it seems we may have opened a pathway to be heard.
Don’t stop writing your representatives, calling them, and voicing your opposition to the hurtful regulations that are being levied upon our industry.