House Joint Resolution 99

While Judge Mehta’s decision has overturned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s Deeming Rule, the FDA still wants to regulate premium cigars. Congressman Byron Donalds (R-FL) has introduced House Joint Resolution 99 (H.J.99). This is legislation that Cigar Rights of America (CRA) has been working on behind the scenes to ensure the FDA will no longer have jurisdiction over premium cigars.

H.J.99, if enacted, would amend the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C) by (1) establishing a definition of a premium cigar (using the definition adopted by Judge Mehta) and (2) stating that a premium cigar is not a tobacco product for the purposes of the FD&C Act. The FDA would then have no jurisdiction over premium cigars, and accordingly, premium cigars would be exempt from all aspects of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTCA). It was the FSPTCA that gave the FDA the authority to regulate cigars.

At press time, ten co-sponsors are on board with H.J.99 and Congressman Donalds.

The legislation differs from the bill introduced by Congresswoman Kathy Castor (D-FL) in that Donalds’ bill includes language with the definition of a premium cigar as adopted by Judge Mehta.

(A) The term ‘tobacco product’ does not mean a premium cigar.

(B) In clause (A), the term ‘premium cigar’ means a cigar that—

(i) is wrapped in whole tobacco leaf;

(ii) contains a 100 percent leaf tobacco binder;

(iii) contains at least 50 percent (of the filler by weight) long filler tobacco (whole tobacco leaves that run the length of the cigar);

(iv) is handmade or hand rolled, meaning no machinery was used apart from simple tools, such as scissors to cut the tobacco prior to rolling;

(v) has no filter, nontobacco tip, or nontobacco mouthpiece;

(vi) does not have a characterizing flavor other than tobacco;

(vii) contains only tobacco, water, and vegetable gum with no other ingredients or additives; and

“(viii) weighs more than 6 pounds per 1,000 units.