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Weekly Cigar News Sampler: Cigar Industry Asks for Warning Label Delays, NY Tax Hike Fails, Bourbon in the Mail, and More

6 Apr 2018

As we have since July 2006, each Friday we’ll post our sampling of cigar news and other items of interest from the week. Below is our latest, which is the 573rd in the series.

1) On the heels of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announcing its intent to seek comments about reconsidering existing regulations of premium cigars, the cigar industry is now seeking to eliminate FDA warning label requirements, which are scheduled to go in effect on August 10. The Cigar Association of America, Cigar Rights of America, and International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association have asked U.S. District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta (pictured at right) to delay the new warning label rules while the FDA reconsiders its position. The trade groups are hopeful Judge Mehta will be consistent with his statement from December hearings in this case when he said, “I guess I just have a real problem, it seems to me, with a government agency telling an entire industry [to] spend millions of dollars to satisfy a regulation that we’re not sure is going to be on the books a year from now or two years from now.” At issue are larger warning labels on cigar boxes, and rules about where these labels would need to be placed. As we wrote last week, simply considering a premium cigar exemption, of course, doesn’t guarantee that the FDA will ultimately adopt one. The FDA notably considered and rejected such an exemption in its original regulation of cigars. However, the willingness of the new FDA leadership to spend time and resources considering rolling back its regulations is a good sign for those who make, sell, and enjoy cigars.

2) Cigar consumers and retailers in New York can breathe a sigh of relief. The final version of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2019 budget does not include a proposed cigar tax hike. “While the original version of the budget did not raise the tax percentage of cigars, which is currently 75 percent of the wholesale price, it removed an ‘industry standard adjustment ratio’ clause that allows retailers to charge a much lower rate of 28.5 percent,” reports Cigar Aficionado. “The section of the original 2018–2019 Executive Budget proposal that pertained to wholesale tobacco prices was intentionally omitted from a subsequent version published on March 13 and did not reappear in what would become the final version…”

3) Kentucky recently passed HB400, a law which, for the first time, and in certain circumstances, allows the state’s famous bourbon distilleries, along with state wineries, to ship bourbon directly to consumers outside the state.  The law allows those who visit the state’s distilleries in person to ship whiskey to their home state, depending on their local laws.

4) Inside the Industry: RoMa Craft is restarting production of Neanderthal following a shortage of adequately aged Mexican San Andrés Ligero Capa. According to RoMa Craft’s Skip Martin, current back-orders of the line will begin being filled in late 2018.

5) From the Archives: Rarely are there new types of cigar tobacco, but Fuma Em Corda is one. As Ernest Gocaj of General Cigar explained in an interview last year: “Once the tobacco turns brown, the natives make it into a rope and twist it regularly to expel the juices of the tobacco. At this time, ammonia is released and the flavor is softened. In other words, the harshness is removed from the leaf. Everything is done in sunlight. The tobacco becomes very pure and refined through this method.”

6) Deal of the Week: Here are over 80 deals, including cigars from Ashton, Oliva, Tatuaje, Rocky Patel, Padrón, Drew Estate, Davidoff, Cohiba, Crowned Heads, RoMa Craft, and more. Free shipping is included on any purchase. If you really want to stock up, add promo code “GBP20D” at checkout to knock $20 off an order of $150 or more.

The Stogie Guys

photo credit: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

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