Congress Re-introduces Premium Cigar Exemption Bill
Today, Congressman Bill Posey (R-FL) re-introduced the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2017, at the request of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (“IPCPR”) and Cigar Rights of America (“CRA”). The legislation’s explicit purpose is to both define what constitutes a “premium cigar” and exempts the product category from regulations now in place under the FDA’s Final Rule. The bill is identical to its predecessor in the 114th Congress, H.R. 662, which had the support of 170 Members of the House of Representatives.
Like H.R. 662 and previous bills, Congresswoman Kathy Castor (D-FL) is once again serving as the primary Democrat co-sponsor on the legislation. At its introduction, the bill has strong bi-partisan support with 40 original co-sponsors on the legislation.
Under the provisions of the act, a cigar is “premium” and exempt from the rule if it meets several strict definitions:
It must be wrapped in 100 percent leaf tobacco and bunched in 100 percent tobacco filler;
Can not contain a filter, tip or non-tobacco mouthpiece;
Must weigh at-least 6 pounds per 1,000 count;
Has 100 percent tobacco binder and is hand rolled or is made with human hands to lay the wrapper or binder onto one machine that bunches, wraps and caps the individual cigars or has a homogenized tobacco leaf binder and is made in the United States using human hands to lay a 100 percent leaf tobacco wrapper onto one machine that bunches, wraps, and caps each individual cigar.
Since the FDA’s Final Rule went into effect on August 8th, 2016, premium cigar and pipe tobacco manufacturers and retailers have been left to adopt new compliance measures, and to absorb significant costs in order to meet the burdensome and costly new requirements.
Additionally, several key provisions under the regulations remain unclear despite pending deadlines and the industry continues to wait for new guidance from the FDA. In the short time the rule has been in effect, it has already resulted in industry consolidation, job losses, and economic uncertainty for small businesses domestically and with international trading partners.
IPCPR and CRA applaud Congressman Posey and Congresswoman Castor and each of the original co-sponsors on the bill for their continued work and support on behalf of small businesses, spanning from Main Street America to international trading partners throughout Latin America and the Caribbean Basin.
The Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2017 is an encouraging response to the daily crushing costs that many in the premium cigar industry are already starting to experience. IPCPR CEO Mark Pursell stated, “We look forward to working with Congress on behalf of the our retailers, small businesses and the rest of the premium cigar industry to advance this common sense legislation.”
CRA Executive Director Glynn Loope added, “Since 2011, this legislation has served as a platform to convey the threat such regulations could pose to the premium cigar industry. Now that threat is reality, and Congress, in concert with the new Administration, need to advance measures that can not only mitigate the damage of the rules in front of us, but to ensure protection from rules yet to come.”