On September 14, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill exempting the premium cigar industry from FDA funding and regulation. H.R. 3354 – the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act of 2018 passed by a vote of 211 to 198. While this is a highly favorable outcome, the bill must pass the U.S. Senate as well.
J. Glynn Loope, the executive director of Cigar Rights of America commended the decision, calling it a “testament to the bi-partisan coalition of co-sponsors that have served as a voice of reason, that premium handmade cigars do not deserve the treatment of draconian regulations as proposed by the FDA.” The Cigar Association of America hailed the move as “an important and positive first step” but added that “a lot of work remains before our industry can celebrate.”
Upon Senate approval, the bill would be applicable only for fiscal year 2018 (effective October 1, 2017 through September 30, 2018). In order for the legislation to begin, Congress must pass the exemption bill no later than December 8, 2017.
There is still much that has to happen but this is a good first step.