Congressional leaders have reached a consensus on a $1.3 trillion spending package, and Cigar Aficionado has learned that a bill to exempt premium cigars from FDA regulation was not included in the final version.
Variations of the cigar-exemption bill have been introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate in past years, but they have never passed. During this most recent round of budget talks, the bill was folded in as a rider and included language that would have blocked the FDA from using any of its funding to regulate “traditional large and premium cigars.”
Facing a Friday deadline to avoid yet another government shutdown, talks between Republicans and Democrats heated up in the past few days as the two parties attempted to come to an agreement on what riders should be included in the final spending package. According to sources, the cigar-exemption language was one of the final riders to be cut.
“We are extremely disappointed that the bill to exempt premium cigars from FDA regulation was not included in the final omnibus budget package released today,” said Drew Newman, general counsel of J.C. Newman Cigar Co. “When Congress adopted the Tobacco Control Act in 2009, it never intended for premium, handcrafted cigar companies like ours to be regulated out of business—but that is exactly what the costly and overbearing requirements of FDA regulation threaten to do.”
While the bill has not officially been released, the White House has announced its support.
“Although we are disheartened today, we remain optimistic that the premium cigar industry will ultimately obtain relief—through legislation, litigation, or regulation—from the crippling components of FDA regulation,” said Newman.