The cigar industry was in federal court once again today as Judge Amit P. Mehta heard arguments in the lawsuit pitting the U.S. Food & Drug Administration against the Cigar Rights of America, Premium Cigar Association and the Cigar Association of America. The three cigar associations have sued the FDA, challenging the organization’s rejection of an exemption for premium cigars from the FDA’s Deeming Rule.
The Cigar Rights of America, in a statement, called this challenge “a final push…to give our industry permanent relief from the egregious regulation that threatens to destroy our industry.”
During the roughly two-hour hearing, the cigar industry presented its case, seeking to show not only the considerable difference between handmade, premium cigars and other types of cigars, but the burden FDA regulations place upon cigar companies.
“There’s just no way for this industry to win. It remains buried in a phonebook of regulations, and it makes it impossible to plan,” said Michael J. Edney of Steptoe & Johnson, the lead attorney for the cigar industry. Pointing out Rocky Patel, a cigarmaker who was in attendance, he said cigarmakers such as Patel have to “submit a mountain of paperwork” just to stay in business.
At the conclusion of today’s hearing, Edney said, in a statement, that “he was grateful for the opportunity provided by the Court for CRA to present its legal concerns that the FDA did not properly consider the evidence in the record before choosing to regulate premium cigars.”
A ruling from the judge is expected to take several months.