The United States Senate has confirmed Alex Azar as the new Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). The appointment should be of particular interest to the cigar community as HHS oversees the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) –  the organization that regulates premium cigars.

Azar comes from the pharmaceutical industry, where from 2012 to 2017, he served as President of Lilly USA, LLC, the largest affiliate of global biopharmaceutical leader Eli Lilly and Company. Azar also served as a Deputy Secretary at HHS from 2005 to 2007 under President George W. Bush.

In terms of Azar’s position toward tobacco and the premium cigar industry, it is an unknown. However, the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers issued a statement saying “The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers (IPCPR) is encouraged by Mr. Azar’s impressive background, in-depth understanding of public policy and support for free-market principles. Our association looks forward to a productive dialogue on FDA’s regulation of premium cigars and the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) currently underway.”

The reference to ANPRM refers to the fact that the FDA is re-examining the regulations around premium cigars.

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