An end to cigar regulation in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)? Perhaps. On Tuesday, April 12th, 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies released a draft of the appropriations bill for Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies programs for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2017. The 100 page Bill provides budget guidance and additional guidance to the each of the agencies. Included in the draft legislation was a provision to eliminate funding for the FDA’s regulation of cigars. The draft legislation is the overarching budget for Agricultural Programs, Domestic Food Programs, Conservation Programs, Rural Development Programs, Foreign Assistance and Related Programs, Related Agencies and the FDA, and General Provisions.
Below is the exact text from the draft bill:
“SEC. 749. None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to finalize, implement, administer, or enforce the proposed rule with the regulation identifier num- ber 0910–AG38 published by the Food and Drug Administration in the Federal Register on April 25, 2014 (79 Fed. Reg. 23142) if such rule would apply to traditional large and premium cigars. For the purposes of this section, the term traditional large and premium cigar means—
(1) any roll of tobacco that is wrapped in 100 percent leaf tobacco, bunched with 100 perfect tobacco filler, contains no filter, tip or non-tobacco mouthpiece, weighs at least 6 pounds per 1,000 count, and—
(A) has a 100 percent leaf tobacco binder and is hand rolled
(B) 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
(C) 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; and
(2) is not a cigarette or a little cigar (as such terms are defined in paragraphs (3) and (11), respectively, of section 900 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act).”
This is a classic political play. If you don’t like the legislation and can’t change it via traditional legislative means, simply create a new law that says no money can be spent to implement the old law. Genius! You can download the full draft legislation here.
As this post is going to print (posting?), we learned that the bill made it through the Subcommittee as written and will continue through the arduous process of becoming legislation. This would be a major coupé for cigar smokers if the cigar regulation legislation was passed. Truth be told, there is very little chance the draft legislation will become a law as written and there is a very good chance the tobacco do-gooders will eliminate this provision from the 100 page draft legislation. Keep your fingers crossed!