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Cigar Trade Associations Now Pressuring Courts to Postpone FDA Requirements for Warning Labels and User Fees

April 23rd, 2018

The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR), Cigar Association of America (CAA) and Cigar Rights of America (CRA) are now leaning on the courts to drop the FDA’s new warning label requirements and user fees.

This latest request is part of an ongoing lawsuit known as Cigar Association of America, et al. v. United States Food and Drug Administration, and stems from the FDA’s recent issuing of the ANPRM, which seeks input and data from premium cigar industry professionals such as manufacturers and retailers, as well as comments and input from consumers.

The argument by the associations comes down to this: the language and claims used in the warning label statements issued by the FDA are a sign that the FDA is now reconsidering parts of the deeming rule, which includes the new warning label requirements and the research used to inform and support the regulation of premium cigars. Moreover, when the lawsuit was argued in court last December, even U.S. District of Columbia District Court Judge, Amit Mehta, raised the question that if the FDA was still in the process of studying and understanding the true nature of the cigar industry, how could it impose user fees and costly compliance requirements? It was that rationale which caused Mehta’s hesitation in issuing a ruling in the case.

Another economic issue the cigar industry is facing this year is higher user fees. The fees, which went into effect on October 1, 2017 for fiscal year 2018, are used to pay for the Center for Tobacco Products, the arm of the FDA that actually regulates tobacco products. In the past, these fees were paid by the cigarette industry, but since the deeming regulations went into effect in 2016, cigars, pipe tobacco, snuff, chewing tobacco and RYO must now also pay-up and continue to do so in the years ahead. Additionally, the warning label requirements now make it even more difficult for cigar manufacturers and retailers to promote their respective products and businesses to consumers – not to mention the impact the new label requirements will have on the packaging – since the FDA requires that the new label plans be submitted for approval one year in advance before being implemented. Moreover, the new warning label requirements go into effect on August 10, 2018, shortly after this year’s IPCPR trade show, when manufacturers will be debuting their new premium cigar selections to retailers for 2019.