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FDA Delays Deadline

FDA Delays November Deadline for Premium Cigar Testing Results

March 15th, 2019

FDA Provided No Rule Saying How Tobacco Constituents Testing Would Be Done

A November 8, 2019 deadline for test results of harmful and potentially harmful constituents in premium cigars and pipe tobacco sold in the United States has been delayed by the Food and Drug Administration. According to a report by Cigar Rights of America, this was due to “the lack of technology for testing premium cigars being nonexistent,” plus the fact that the FDA “failed to provide no rule saying how testing for harmful constituents in cigars and pipe tobacco was supposed to be accomplished.” Once the FDA has determined the guidelines on how such testing should occur and a new deadline, large manufacturers will have six months to comply from the new date, while small manufacturers will have nine months. Moreover, the FDA has given no indication that such constituent guidelines, referred to as HPHC, will even be released before the end of this year.

“Today’s significant action by the FDA in extending the deadline for HPHC reporting, for the time being, removes a cloud lingering over the premium cigar industry,” said CRA executive director, Glynn Loope. “It is a testament to the efforts of our CRA and IPCPR litigation team for reaching this agreement.”

The delay is also significant, in that, Monday, March 11 was the date by which IPCPR and CRA had promised to move for an injunction against the FDA if it refused to delay the November 8 deadline.

Other prominent cigar industry executives were pleased with the decision to delay, but remained suspicious of how the FDA planned to test for “harmful and potentially harmful constituents” in tobacco.
“The whole thing needs to be reexamined,” said Rocky Patel of Rocky Patel Premium Cigars. “There’s no way to test cigars in a reliable manner, nor can any machine do so.”

“Although we will await FDA’s guidance, I remain very skeptical about whether it is possible to reliably test premium cigars,” said Drew Newman, General Counsel for J.C. Newman Cigars. “Making premium cigars is an inherently unscientific process.”

Scott Pearce, Executive Director of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) issued a statement saying he was pleased to have some clarity on the subject, and that the November 8 deadline has been moved.

“Our retail members can now operate their businesses with more confidence about the future,” Mr. Pearce added.

For now, IPCPR and CRA will continue to work with the courts and the FDA regarding the HPHC reporting requirement and deadlines, as well as what steps will be as the litigation process continues.