California To Continue Warning Labels Despite FDA Ruling

California To Continue Warning Labels Despite FDA Ruling

Manufacturers selling cigars in California will still be required to include warning labels on their products, even after a Washington D.C. judge delayed the FDA’s federal warning label requirements earlier this month. 

In April, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra sent a letter stating that, with one exception, FDA warning labels would be in compliance with the state’s current warning label requirements for tobacco products under Proposition 65, which went into effect in 1986.

These regulations, established by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, require warning labels be placed on tobacco products, among other goods. Proposition 65 is the reason why many food and beverage products, cosmetics and tools sold in California contain warning labels that you wouldn’t find elsewhere in the United States.

After a court injunction postponed the FDA’s warning label requirements in July, the Cigar Association of America, a cigar lobbying group involved in the lawsuit that pushed for the delay, issued a statement that said manufacturers will still need to comply with Proposition 65 by including FDA, or other “safe harbor” warning labels, on their products.

In other words, the six warning statements included in the FDA's Final Deeming Rule are sufficient to comply with the Proposition 65 standards, with one exception.

In his letter, Becerra noted that the optional alternative warning statement that the FDA allows manufacturers to use at their discretion. In the FDA’s warning scheme, one of the warnings reads “WARNING: Cigar use while pregnant can harm you and your baby. (Or, as an optional alternative statement: SURGEON GENERAL WARNING: Tobacco Use Increases the Risk of Infertility, Stillbirth and Low Birth Weight.)” Manufacturers can choose either statement and still be FDA compliant.

In California, however, the option to choose which warning statement to use has been taken away. Becerra says that cigar manufacturers must use the warning that states "SURGEON GENERAL WARNING: Tobacco Use Increases the Risk of Infertility, Stillbirth and Low Birth Weight" in order to comply with Proposition 65.

Additionally, new amendments to Proposition 65 are set to go into effect on August 30. While the new regulations don’t alter anything specific to the packaging of tobacco products, they do alter some requirements for e-commerce and catalog distribution.