New FDA Commissioner Comments On Premium Cigars

New FDA Commissioner Comments On Premium Cigars
Photo: Reuters/Alamy

FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb has acknowledged the concerns small businesses face over the agency's regulation of the premium cigar industry and said he will work with legislators to "mitigate the unintended consequences of these measures."

During a Senate Appropriations subcommittee meeting Tuesday morning, Florida Senator Marco Rubio asked the newly-appointed commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration if he had any plans to reevaluate FDA regulation of the premium cigar industry.

"Whatever we do in this regard is going to need to be science-based," said Gottlieb. "But we are cognizant of the challenges faced by small businesses." The FDA commissioner was testifying before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies regarding the FDA's budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Gottlieb, whose appointment to FDA commissioner was largely praised by the premium cigar industry, said the agency would be happy to work with Congress should they choose to act on current legislative measures that would exempt premium cigars from regulation.

A Senate Bill (SB 294) pushing for the exemption was introduced in part by Senator Rubio in March.

Other than acknowledging the concerns of family-owned premium cigar companies, Gottlieb refrained from commenting further, given the pending litigation surrounding these regulations. The three major lobbying groups that represent the cigar industry in Washington—Cigar Association of America, International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association and Cigar Rights of America—filed a joint lawsuit against the FDA last July. The trial has already been delayed once, and is now set to begin on August 30.

Earlier this month, Cigar Aficionado began a letter-writing campaign to Dr. Scott Gottlieb and President Donald Trump advocating for the exemption of handmade cigars from FDA regulation.

Click here to read editor and publisher Marvin R. Shanken's letter to FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb.

"FDA's stated mission is to "protect the public health" and "helping the public get accurate, science-based information they need." The FDA Center for Tobacco Products was supposedly for preventing underage tobacco use, but was also written to preserve state, local, and tribal authority to regulate tobacco trade. When Gottlieb says "science-based", he means he intends to perpetuate the FDA "nanny state" that stands between adults and their right to make choices that impact their own health. Sure, give us accurate health information about tobacco rights, but then stand aside and let local, state, and tribal authorities regulate the businesses that support their communities. This overreaching legislation never should have been passed in the first place, and Gottlieb needs to do the right thing now and stand aside, just like the 2009 legislation promises." —July 2, 2017 15:15 PM
""Whatever we do in this regard is going to need to be science-based," said Gottlieb. Huh?" —June 21, 2017 20:15 PM