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Cigar Groups Score Legal Victory in Challenge of FDA Warning Label Mandate

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Cigar Groups Score Legal

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration failed to follow legal dictates when it ruled the cigar industry must provide the same warnings as other tobacco products, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled Tuesday. 

As a result, cigar groups are, for now, spared from warning requirements that have long applied to cigarette makers. 

The FDA in 2016 said that cigar products, as well as pipe and hookah tobacco, e-cigarettes and vaping products, must include warnings on disease and pregnancy risks, the same as cigarettes. The rule was set to go into effect in 2018 but was challenged by several cigar industry advocate groups, including the Cigar Association of America, Cigar Rights of America and the Premium Cigar Association.  

The appeals court found that the agency failed to consider if the warnings would increase or decrease the number of smokers, which is required by the Tobacco Control Act.

“…The FDA promulgated regulations requiring extensive health warnings on packaging and in advertising for cigars and pipe tobacco,” Judge Gregory G. Katsas, a 2017 Trump appointee, noted in the opinion.  “The FDA concluded that these warnings would help communicate the health risks of smoking, but it failed to consider how the warnings would likely affect the number of smokers. We hold that this failure violated the Tobacco Control Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.” 

Katsas noted that the FDA estimated that the rules would cost the cigar industry over $1 million. 

The 3-0 decision reversed a lower court ruling in favor of the FDA in a case dating back to 2016. 

“This pronouncement by the court ratifies what the courts and members of congress have been saying for years:  A reflexive, unstudied, ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to regulation simply doesn’t work,” Glynn Loope, executive director at Cigar Rights of America, said in a statement. “It’s time for court decisions like today, and messages from hundreds of members of congress from both sides of the aisle to be heard: Exempt premium cigars from the most onerous elements of these regulations, and reform the most economically threatening rules that have already been implemented.”

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