You might have heard how the Food and Drug Administration just dropped a bomb on U.S. tobacco, which includes the cigar industry. But what does that mean for cigar smokers? In plain English, it means more red tape between you and the cigars you love. Luckily, three groups are fighting back. And they’ve made some bold arguments for why the FDA may have crossed the line.
The FDA’s Final Rule includes rigid packaging and warning label guidelines, quarterly user fees, and pre-market approval for upcoming products–all of which are bad news for cigar retailers and other such companies. That’s why The Cigar Association of America, International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers, and Cigar Rights of America have filed a joint lawsuit. They think the FDA has acted illegally, and if they win, the Final Rule could go up in smoke.
Specifically, the FDA is being taken to task for:
Requiring products released after February 15, 2007 to be verified by the FDA before going on sale
Taxing cigar and pipe companies with user fees, which could add up to $65 million a year
Violating the Regulatory Flexibility Act by neglecting to assess the effects of the Final Rule on small businesses
Requiring cigar health warning labels to take up 30% of a package’s display panels
Pigeon-holing companies who blend finished pipe tobacco or create cigar samplers of finished cigars as “manufacturers,” which means they’ll face stricter regulations than “retailers”
The president of the Cigar Association of America, Craig Williamson, said of the decision to file suit: “We hoped the FDA would craft a flexible regulatory structure that accounted for the uniqueness of our industry. Instead, we got a broad, one-size-fits-all rule that fails to account for how cigars and premium cigars are manufactured, distributed, sold and consumed in the United States.”
So what happens if the Final Rule really is final? Cigar companies will have a two year window to sell their current inventory before the new regulations kick in. After that, there’s no telling what the business will look like.
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