JC Newman Issues Statement on the Extended Deadline for HPHC Testing

“Today’s announcement is a huge relief for the premium cigar industry. Because there are no standards for testing premium cigars, there was no way that our four generation, 124-year-old family business could meet FDA’s rapidly approaching November testing deadline. FDA’s decision to extend the HPHC testing deadline until after the agency first issues guidance is eminently reasonable.

“Although we will await FDA’s guidance, I remain very skeptical about whether it is possible to reliably test premium cigars because making premium cigars is an inherently unscientific process. Because premium cigars are handcrafted, they are subject to great natural variation. We know that the amount of sunlight, rain, and wind affects the characteristics of premium cigar tobacco just as the size of tobacco leaves and where they are grown on a plant does as well. As cigar makers, we harness this natural variation to create unique and interesting blends. A recent study that tested showed how great this natural variation can be. In it, researchers tested the same premium cigar brand in two different years and found variances upwards of 50%.

“Moreover, the cost of testing is also likely to be enormous. A lab that proposed testing premium cigars like cigarettes recently quoted $18,000 just to test a single cigar. This huge sum works for a product like cigarettes that are mass produced but not for premium cigars that are hand rolled in small batches. As there are tens of thousands of different premium cigars sold in the USA today, the total cost for testing them could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.”

“We are very grateful to Cigar Rights of America, the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association, and the Cigar Association of America for their continued leadership and efforts to seek much needed relief for the premium cigar industry.”