18 Dec 2014
Reading about the recently approved $1.1 trillion federal spending bill, it was hard not to wonder where cigars were. After all, the bill was larded with special provisions on topics from Army boots to cow manure.
It sure would have been nice if someone could have slipped in the provision barring the Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed regulation of premium cigars that’s been bouncing around Capitol Hill for several years.
I talked to George Cecala in the office of U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, the Floridian who’s a leader in pushing the bill. Cecala told me they tried before to get it into other legislation, and for those not directly involved in the process of assembling the bill, it wasn’t easy to get anything in.
Not that cigars were ignored altogether. A Cigar Rights of America (CRA) press release Wednesday highlighted what it called a “direct message being conveyed from the U.S. Congress to the FDA that premium cigars should not be regulated.”
It came, CRA reported, in the House Appropriations Committee’s funding report for the FDA: “…the Committee notes that FDA is considering excluding premium cigars from the scope of this proposed rule… The Committee believes this could be a viable solution, given that the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act makes little mention of cigars throughout the legislation, and there is even less evidence that Congress intended to focus on the unique subset of premium cigars.”
Unfortunately, I’m not optimistic about the impact. We know already that the reason the FDA included the exemption option in the first place was because the White House Office of Management and Budget forced it in. As Reuters reported in June: “…OMB turned the FDA’s proposal as it relates to cigars from a two-part rule—one for traditional tobacco products and one for products that have not previously been regulated—into a ‘two-option’ rule, one of which would exempt ‘premium cigars.’”
CRA also noted that while the spending language was “a positive step forward… it does not eliminate the need for an unambiguous Congressional exemption for premium cigars.”
As the FDA continues its review, those like Posey and the CRA say they’re not relenting in their push to remove the threat of FDA oversight. The plan is to reintroduce the legislation in the 114th Congress after it convenes next month.
If you haven’t already done so, there’s no better time to write your representative and senators to let them know you support excluding premium cigars from FDA regulation.
photo credit: Stogie Guys