For months the cigar industry has been waiting for a ruling from Judge Amit P. Mehta. Today, that ruling came down and it wasn’t what we wanted to hear as the member of United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of the FDA’s Warning Label Plan.
Despite calling the rules, “grossly unfair”, Judge Mehta ruled that the Final Deeming Rule’s health warnings on cigar boxes and advertisements are not a violation of the First Amendment.
According to Judge Mehta, “The cigar industry has expended millions of dollars in designing and creating new, conforming packaging, a fact that the FDA does not contest. Why is the agency insisting that the premium cigar industry expend millions of dollars to conform to regulatory mandates that might be rescinded only months after their effective date? The FDA provides no satisfactory response to either question. Whatever the answers, one thing is certain: Requiring the premium cigar industry to incur substantial compliance costs while the agency comprehensively reassesses the wisdom of regulation, before the warnings requirements go into effect, smacks of basic unfairness. In the court’s view, the prudent course would be for FDA to stay the warnings requirement as to premium cigars.”
There is one bit of good news as retailers will not be considered manufacturers if they blend pipe tobacco on premises, a small victory.
Meanwhile, the cigar industry will weigh their options for a possible appeal of the ruling.