On December 14th, 2017 oral arguments in the cigar industry’s case against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were held in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia with Judge Amit Mehta presiding over the hearings. This hearing comes after several months of filing legal motions and various scheduling deadlines being implemented.
The lawsuit was initiated by the three trade associations representing the cigar industry: Cigar Association of America (CAA), Cigar Rights of America (CRA), and the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailer Association (IPCPR). Over the past few months, several legal motions have been filed focusing on user fees and warning labels.
While the trade associations did not issue a formal communication in response to the hearing, Cigar Rights of America referenced an article published by Cigar Aficionado, whose representative was present in the courtroom, in its email newsletter. A formal communication is not expected due to the fact that the case is still under litigation.
Perhaps the most significant part of the hearing came from Judge Mehta. During the arguments around warning labels, Judge Mehta commented to a Department of Justice lawyer, “If FDA is still studying premium cigars, how can I make a ruling. I have a real problem with a government agency asking [premium cigar] companies to spend millions of dollars to satisfy the Deeming Rule when it may not be on the books a year from now.”
According to the article, a ruling is anticipated by Judge Mehta in January 2018.