H.R. 2339, a comprehensive anti-tobacco bill has passed the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s a bill that on one hand does include language to exempt some premium cigars from pre-market review, but on the other hand, could deal the premium cigar industry a heavy-handed blow. Key provisions of the bill affecting premium cigars are:
- Exemption for Premium Cigars from Pre-Market Review: The definition of a premium cigar in the bill does include a minimum $12.00 price point.
- A ban on sales of tobacco and vape products that are not “face to face.” This would include online, catalog, and phone sales. However, under the exemption, products defined as premium cigars would be exempt.
- Flavored Tobacco Ban: Banning products that contain a natural or artificial flavor other than tobacco.
- Extending advertising restrictions currently applying to cigarettes to all tobacco products.
- Increase in user fees
While the bill has passed the House of Representatives, it is a long way from becoming the law of the land. A companion bill would need to go through the U.S. Senate. Many close to the Washington, DC scene have indicated it is unlikely this bill would be voted on in the Senate during this current session of Congress.
Some have hailed the bill as a positive because it is the first major piece of legislation to pass one of the chambers of Congress carving out exemption language. Others have noted the items included in the bill have potential catastrophic consequences for the premium cigar industry.
In a press release, Premium Cigar Association Director Scott Pearce stated, “It is important for the association to send a loud and clear message that we appreciate efforts made to distinguish premium cigars from other tobacco products, but we cannot support or remain neutral to provisions that will cripple the industry and eliminate significant lines of business for our members.”
“Although it is not perfect, this is a historic bill and a huge step forward for the premium cigar industry,” said Drew Newman, general counsel of J.C. Newman Cigar Co. in a company press release, “For the first time, the U.S. House of Representatives has recognized that premium cigars are unique, are not used by children, and should be exempt from unnecessary regulation.”
Photo Credit: U.S. Capitol Facebook Page