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House Passes H.R. 3354 Exempting Premium Cigars from FDA Language

September 27th, 2017

FDA Could Be Restricted from Using Funds to Regulate Premium Cigars in Fiscal 2018

By a vote of 211-218, the United States House of Representatives passed the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act of 2018 (H.R. 3354). Using the same language that was adopted by the full House Committee on Appropriations on July 12, 2017, the amendment would exempt premium cigars from FDA language by restricting the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) from using any funds to regulate premium hand-rolled cigars.

Reacting to the vote, J. Glynn Loope, Executive Director of Cigar Rights of America, stated, “Passage of this amendment is a testament to the bi-partisan coalition of co-sponsors that have served as a voice of reason; that premium handmade cigars do not deserve the treatment of draconian regulations as proposed by the FDA.” Mr. Loope added that the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act of 2018 “speaks to the original congressional intent of the Tobacco Control Act, while serving as a message to the U.S. Senate, as budget negotiations continue this year.”

Although this is welcome news for both cigar manufacturers and consumers, the bill must still pass a Senate vote to make it stick. It should be noted that the exemption is only applicable for the 2018 fiscal year, which runs from October 1, 2017 through September 30, 2018. Moreover, an exemption bill by Congress would also have to be passed by December 8 of this year for the legislation to go into effect.

In a press release issued by Ken Neumann, president of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR), Mr. Neumann stated, “We’re now on the precipice of bringing true relief to our industry.” However, Mr. Neumann’s comment was echoed by a more cautious remark from the Cigar Association of America (CAA): “This move is an important and positive first step, but a lot of work remains before our industry can celebrate.”