This week, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) re-introduced the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2017 (S. 294). Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) serves as the lead Republican sponsor on this bi-partisan, common sense bill which currently has a total of nine co-sponsors. Its House companion legislation, H.R. 546, was introduced last month by Congressman Posey and Congresswoman Castor. The International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association applauds Senators Nelson and Rubio for their continued commitment to supporting small businesses and the mom & pop outlets that make up our artisanal industry.

Just as with the House bill, S. 294 acutely defines and exempts premium cigars from the regulatory burdens of the FDA’s deeming rule. To qualify as a premium cigar:

  • It must be wrapped in 100 percent leaf tobacco and bunched in 100 percent tobacco filler;
  • Cannot 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. IPCPR Director of Federal Government Affairs, Daniel Trope stated, “The re-introduction of S. 294 by Senators Nelson and Rubio demonstrates the ongoing commitment by Congress to bring relief and certainty to thousands of small businesses affected by the FDA’s recent regulation.”

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