On June 27, 2017, the U.S. House of Representative Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture passed its FY18 Agriculture Appropriations Bill. The significance of this? It included language that seeks the exemption of premium cigars from regulation by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
The bill looks to block the FDA from using any of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture’s funding to regulate premium cigars. The bill defines premium cigar products as:
1. Any roll of tobacco that is wrapped in 100 percent leaf tobacco, bunched with 100 percent tobacco filler, contains no filter, tip or non-tobacco mouthpiece, weighs at least 6 pounds per 1,000 count, and—
A. has a 100 percent leaf tobacco binder and is hand rolled;
B. has a 100 percent leaf tobacco binder and is made using human hands to lay the leaf tobacco wrapper or binder onto only one ma- chine that bunches, wraps, and caps each individual cigar; or
C. has a homogenized tobacco leaf binder and is made in the United States using human hands to lay the 100 percent leaf tobacco wrap- per onto only one machine that bunches, wraps, and caps each individual cigar; and
2. Is not a cigarette or a little cigar (as such terms are defined in paragraphs (3) and (11), respectively, of section 900 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act).
Also included in the bill was the often sought after change in predicate date, moving it from the current date of Feb. 15, 2007 to Aug. 8, 2016, when the deeming rules went into effect. Similar bills have been introduced in the Senate and the House of Representatives. The FY18 Agriculture Appropriations Bill will now go to the full House Appropriations Committee where it will need to pass a vote in the full House of Representatives and get through the Senate with similar language before being signed into law by President Trump. The bill could be taken up as early as mid-July.