On June 27th, 2017, the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee released the Fiscal Year 2018 Agriculture Appropriations Bill which included language to exempt premium cigars from Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation. OK, it doesn’t exactly “exempt” the FDA from regulating cigars but it does prohibit the FDA from using any appropriated funds to “implement, administer, or enforce” the cigar regulations previously published by the FDA “with respect to traditional large and premium cigars.” This is government-speak for “while the Appropriations Committee cannot eliminate your stupid regulations, we can defund the enforcement of the regulations. So take that you overreaching Government agency!”.
A similar Bill has passed the Appropriations Committee over the last couple of years but the cigar-related language was stripped out in the final Bill.
On June 28th, 2017, the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Subcommittee approved the draft Bill via a voice vote and the draft Bill now goes to the full Appropriations Committee later in July.
The draft Bill also provides the House Appropriations Committee definition of a traditional large and premium cigar:
“(1) any roll of tobacco that is 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—
(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).”
The relevant pages of the Bill can be found HERE for your reading pleasure. You might want to have your legislative lawyer on speed dial to understand the legalese.