House, Senate Warn FDA on Premium Cigars

“Have unique characteristics, cost-prohibitive price points, not marketed to kids”
CSP Daily News | 

WASHINGTON — A congressional committee moved Tuesday to exempt premium hand-rolled cigars from oversight by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), reported McClatchy Newspapers.

The exemption would not prohibit the FDA from regulating the fancy cigars sold primarily at high-end tobacco shops, said the report. But there is a stern warning in the language accompanying an FDA spending bill that the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee passed Tuesday: “The committee reminds FDA that premium cigars have unique characteristics and cost-prohibitive price points and are not marketed to kids. Any effort to regulate cigars should take these items into consideration.”

The notice to the FDA is buried within 89 pages of report language, the text that accompanies legislation. It does not carry the force of law, but it is often used to convey congressional intent. Agencies that do not follow the report language may have to answer to the committee as to why they did not..

The Senate FDA spending bill has similar language: “The committee strongly encourages the agency to issue this proposed rule and promulgate regulations as necessary. The committee instructs the agency to consider, among other things, the issue of cigars with characterizing flavors, particularly as it applies to the marketing and sale of these products to children.”

Both are based in part on legislation sponsored by two Florida lawmakers, Representative Bill Posey (R) and Senator Bill Nelson (D). A spokesperson for Nelson said his office had no role in Tuesday’s House action and that they wrote the legislation only for premium hand-rolled cigars. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is a co-sponsor, said the report.

Jenny Haliski, a spokesperson for the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP), told McClatchy that the agency did not comment on pending legislation. The FDA has the power to regulate the manufacture, distribution and marketing of tobacco products under the Tobacco Control Act, enacted in 2009, and it is “moving as expeditiously as possible” to write a rule for cigars that will be open to public comment, Haliski told the news agency.

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