Cigar Industry Appeals Court To Delay New FDA Warning Labels

Cigar Industry Appeals Court To Delay New FDA Warning Labels

After a less-than-favorable ruling last month, the cigar industry has filed a motion asking a Washington D.C. court to stop the enforcement of the new FDA warning labels, or at the very least, delay their effective date.

The motion, which is the latest in the cigar industry’s lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s onerous Final Deeming Rule, was filed last week in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia by attorneys representing the three major cigar lobbying groups: The Cigar Association of America, International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association and the Cigar Rights of America.

In the filing, the cigar groups asked Judge Amit P. Mehta, who has overseen the suit since it was filed in July 2016, to “move for an injunction against the enforcement of the FDA’s cigar and pipe tobacco warnings requirements.” In the event that Mehta won’t do this, the motion asks that the judge delay the date the warning labels go into effect—August 10—by 60 days after the court rules on the motion.

In his ruling on the cigar lawsuit filed last month, Mehta upheld much of the FDA’s stance against the U.S. premium cigar industry. However, Mehta did express his displeasure with the FDA’s warning plan, saying that it “smacks of basic unfairness.”

“The cigar industry has expended millions of dollars in designing and creating new, conforming packaging, a fact that the FDA does not contest,” Mehta wrote. “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insisting that the premium cigar industry expend millions of dollars to conform to regulatory mandates that might be rescinded only months after their effective date?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.”

The motion was filed the day before the FDA announced that it was extending its public commenting period pertaining to re-examination of the regulation of premium cigars.

“We greatly appreciate that the FDA is taking a fresh look at the regulation of premium cigars,” said Drew Newman, general counsel of J.C. Newman Cigar Co. “But, just as the FDA has delayed other parts of the Deeming Rule, the agency should also freeze the implementation of the costly warning label requirements until its review is completed.”