As noted by the Premium Cigar Association (PCA) and Cigar Rights of America (CRA), the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) last night released their Final Substantial Equivalence rules, directed at a wide variety of tobacco products. However, this did not include premium cigars, as it was determined by a federal court ruling that the agency failed to fully evaluate the comments it had received during its proposed rule-making on premium cigars before taking action to regulate the category.
Yesterday’s release also notes that the agency will adopt the CRA’s court definition of what constitutes as a premium cigar:
Premium” cigars means a type of cigar that: (1) is wrapped in whole tobacco leaf; (2) contains a 100 percent leaf tobacco binder; (3) contains at least 50 percent (of the filler by weight) long filler tobacco (i.e., whole tobacco leaves that run the length of the cigar); (4) is handmade or hand rolled (i.e., no machinery was used apart from simple tools, such as scissors to cut the tobacco prior to rolling); (5) has no filter, nontobacco tip, or nontobacco mouthpiece; (6) does not have a characterizing flavor other than tobacco; (7) contains only tobacco, water, and vegetable gum with no other ingredients or additives; and (8) weighs more than 6 pounds per 1,000 units.
This is a big win for cigar enthusiasts, reflecting the continuous efforts of both the PCA and CRA in their battle to educate these agencies and officials on premium cigars and their differences from other tobacco products. However, premium cigars are not out of the woods yet, as the FDA is merely reevaluating the tactic they will take in regards to the category:
[The] FDA will take appropriate action once it has further considered the comments submitted to the deeming rule docket that suggested FDA create a streamlined SE process for “premium” cigars[…]