While the FDA’s new warning label requirements don’t go into effect until August, General Cigar has started early. The company behind world famous cigar brands such as Macanudo, CAO and non-Cuban versions of Partagas has started adding the big, new warning labels to its cigar boxes in an attempt to get an early start on the upcoming regulations, which require the labels to cover 30 percent of the primary display panels—usually the top and side of the box.
“As the category leader, it is incumbent upon us to adhere to the FDA’s timing,” said General’s president Regis Broersma to Cigar Aficionado. “Given the scale of our supply chain, we cannot wait until the last minute to accommodate the new SGW [Surgeon General’s Warning] requirements. If we gambled and waited to see if the FDA would push the date back, we would never meet their deadlines.”
As part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Final Deeming Rule, the federal agency will require that 30 percent of the two primary display panels on every cigar box is emblazoned with health warning labels.
The new warning label requirements don’t go into effect until August 10, 2018, but a new cigar brand from General, called CAO Zocalo, is already shipping to retailers with the large, black and white warning labels on the front portion and lid of the box.
As Broersma notes, there is a chance the August 10 deadline will be pushed back, or dissolved completely due to a number of lawsuits filed against the FDA. Last month, a premium cigar industry group in Texas involved in a lawsuit against the FDA filed a legal motion seeking preliminary relief from the agency’s warning label requirements.
As part of another lawsuit, filed in 2016 by the three largest cigar industry lobbying groups, the plaintiffs filed legal motions seeking preliminary relief from warning label requirements in October 2017. Both cases have yet to be resolved.