Today, the Food & Drug Administration and the Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) announced their “Tobacco Product Standard for Characterizing Flavors in Cigars” proposed rule, which would prohibit characterizing flavoring in all cigars.
On March 10th the Premium Cigar Association (PCA) was the first stakeholder group to meet with the Office of Management & Budget, Office of Information & Regulatory Affairs, and Food & Drug Administration to raise concerns about this pending rule, ask for clarification on the specifics, and make recommendations about further research on international implications and impact on small businesses. PCA asserts that the agency still has left many questioned unanswered specifically on:
- characterizing flavor descriptors
- total small business impact
- foreign impact in cigar producing countries
- impact on minority owned small businesses
“The FDA failed to do their homework in this rule and the document is filled with cherry-picked data that mirrors spoon fed talking points from anti-tobacco groups. The proposed rule is a mess that is ripe with potential challenges and reflective of an agency that is unable to prioritize its resources appropriately.” said Greg Zimmerman president of the PCA.
As the process continues PCA, will:
- challenge the necessity of a prohibition
- showcase negative retail impact
- argue for a solidified and long-term inventory turnover period
- maintain that the rule does not affect pipe tobacco
- argue for clarity surrounding characterizing descriptors
“As we move through the regulatory process PCA will continue to engage with the FDA and policymakers to shed light on industry concerns. Chief among our concerns remains the ability to describe “premium cigars”, which are non-flavored, with descriptors that accurately describe the natural variances in tobacco flavor. We aggressively assert is a free speech issue. Whether you are an individual company crafting shelf talkers or a major media publication, you should be free to describe the product’s profile accurately,” said Joshua Habursky, PCA deputy executive director and head of government affairs.
The Premium Cigar Association intends to participate in the public comment process that will include two public listening sessions on June 13th and June 15th. The docket for comments will be open beginning May 4th and will be open until July 5th. The Premium Cigar Association staff has put together a Frequently Asked Questions document that summarizes the 187-page rule and it’s applicability to retailers, manufacturers, and connection to premium cigars.