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Cigar Trade Groups Respond to FDA: “Eliminate User Fees and Unfair Warning Labels”

April 10th, 2018

In response to the FDA’s recent requests from the public for opinions and data, the premium cigar industry’s leading trade groups have filed a petition against the FDA in favor of removing costly user fees and discriminatory warning label restrictions.

On March 26th, the FDA announced an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) decrying they would be reconsidering their stance on regulating premium cigars and were open to public input. The ANPRM is specifically seeking input and scientific data on the classification of a ‘premium cigar’ and whether the patterns of use present any notable harm.

The following day the petition was formally submitted by a coalition of The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR), Cigar Rights of America (CRA), and Cigar Association of America (CAA). The petition highlights a seemingly supportive cross examination from ruling Judge Ahmet Mehta which can be read here [Click Here]. This petition is a move to halt and eliminate the FDA’s highly restrictive warning label requirements which will also put a hefty burden on retailers.

The petition highlights an exchange between Judge Mehta and Eric Beckenhauer, DOJ trial attorney and representative for the FDA, which shows the FDA did not have the necessary evidence needed when publishing its Final Deeming Rule in 2016.

Though Mehta allows Beckenhauer not to get ahead of the FDA he states, “I just have a real problem… with a government agency telling an entire industry, 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.”

The petition is a doubling down on legal efforts against the FDA in union with the coalition’s current lawsuit against the FDA. The warning label requirements imposed by the FDA include larger health warning labels on all packaging and in-store locations, a submission of a ‘warning plan’ must be sent to the FDA 6 months prior to any advertising and all labels must be even and randomly distributed in all packaging. The new program will be unfairly burdensome for retailers as the costs of the plans may be exorbitant.

This petition comes with a heightened sense of urgency as the FDA’s warning plan requirements are slated to go into effect on August 10, 2018.