Florida Rep Pens Letter To HHS Regarding Handmade Cigars

Florida Rep Pens Letter To HHS Regarding Handmade Cigars

Florida Congressman Bill Posey sent a letter last week to Alex Azar, secretary of Health and Human Services, urging the department head to “take swift action” and alleviate uncertainty among cigar industry members by devising clear-cut regulations on handmade cigars.

In his letter, which was sent on November 13, Posey expresses his concern about the FDA’s October decision to reclassify rulemaking on handmade cigars to “long-term status” in the Unified Regulatory Agenda. This means that while handmade cigar regulation is still on the FDA’s agenda, it is considered a low priority and will likely not be addressed in the next year. This despite the fact that the FDA handmade cigar regulations, according to Posey’s letter, will have an economic impact of greater than $100 million, meaning it should be classified as a “major rule.”

“Due to the fact that the premium cigar industry is predominantly comprised of small businesses, these entities have and continue to suffer disproportionately from the deeming rule’s provisions and urge you to provide relief while the Department considers other important tobacco-related issues,” Posey wrote.

While Posey expressed support for the FDA’s recent proposal to ban flavored cigars in an effort to curb youth smoking, he disagrees with the agency on the need to regulate handmade cigars.

Posey points to the “wealth of data” that the handmade cigar industry submitted to the FDA earlier this year during the agency’s public comment period as proof that “premium cigars do not fit the goals of the regulations.”

Posey has been a supporter of handmade cigars ever since he introduced H.R. 564 in 2017, also known as the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act. This bill seeks to exempt traditional large and premium cigars from FDA regulation as well as costly user fees.

“The first two years of President Trump’s Administration have been marked by a priority focus on removing regulatory burdens that unnecessarily harm job creators, particularly small businesses. The inclusion of premium cigars in the deeming rule is a clear example of the bureaucratic overreach that Executive Order 13771 sought to address,” Posey wrote. This executive order, signed by Trump in 2017, directs agencies to repeal two existing regulations for every new regulation, and to do so in such a way that the total cost of regulations does not increase.

Both the Cigar Rights of America and the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers association expressed their support for Posey’s letter.

“Congressman Posey continues to be a champion of the premium cigar industry and his actions in raising his concerns to Secretary Azar is yet another testament to this leadership in addressing the injustice of FDA regulation of the small business premium cigar industry in Congress,” said Glynn Loope, executive director of CRA.