Earlier this week, Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson led a bipartisan letter to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb directing the FDA to bring quick regulatory relief to the premium cigar industry. Signed by 17 Senators, the letter outlines the need for the quick adoption of a premium cigar definition by the agency and the ultimate exemption of that product category from current FDA regulations.
The letter comes as the FDA has recently extended by 30 days the public comment period for their review of current premium cigar regulations. The process, known as an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM), runs through July 25th.
Importantly, the letter’s signatories underlined their support for smart and impactful requirements that actually benefit the public health – particularly when it comes to youth. These are goals shared and actively supported by IPCPR’s retailers across the country. They correctly point out, however, that data resulting from government financed and executed public health surveys demonstrably show there is no correlation between premium cigars and youth use.
Each signatory to the letter is currently a co-sponsor of S. 294, legislation that seeks to define premium cigars and exempt them from the current regulatory regime. The letter reflects this underlying support and understanding of the existential threat facing thousands of small businesses around the country – “We have consistently heard from those impacted that the FDA’s regulation of premium cigars fails to recognize that these cigars are a unique product with a unique consumer base.” It goes on to request “that the FDA exempt premium cigars from the FDA’s regulations under the FSPTCA and use the definition of a traditional cigar provided in the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2017, bipartisan legislation that we support”.
The IPCPR strongly applauds the letter. On behalf of our member retailers, their suppliers and the millions of Americans who enjoy premium cigars, IPCPR thanks Senators Rubio and Nelson and the 15 Members of the Senate who continue to vocalize this issue and fight for what’s right. We are encouraged by their continued recognition that premium cigars are an artisanal product supported by a small-business-driven industry and their advocacy for those small businesses to Commissioner Gottlieb. As the ANPRM process remains underway, IPCPR will continue to work with Congress and advocate on behalf of premium cigars.