February 3, 2020. For 125 years, my family has been carefully packing our handcrafted cigars in decorative wooden boxes with beautiful cigar labels and bands. FDA wanted to cover 30% of a cigar box with a large health warning label. This would have destroyed the historic character of premium cigar packaging and turned walk-in humidors in premium cigar stores into large billboards for the FDA.
Today, Judge Mehta recognized that premium cigars are different and that FDA cannot ignore that fact. He concluded that there was an insufficient legal basis for FDA to require warning labels for premium cigars. Therefore, he struck down the warning label requirement, sending it back to the agency for further consideration. The practical effect of this decision is that there is no longer a federal requirement to apply warning labels to premium cigars.
Today is an important and historic day for the American premium cigar industry, and we should celebrate it. However, our victory is not complete. Premium cigars are still regulated by FDA, and we are 99 days away from the May 12, 2020 premarket review deadline. In three months, we will be required to file substantial equivalency reports for all new cigars first sold after 2007. This is a monumental and exorbitantly expensive requirement that no one has been able to meet, and we urgently need relief from it.
We are very grateful to the plaintiffs in Texas for litigating this case and for Cigar Rights of America and the Premium Cigar Association for to continuing to advocate on behalf of the premium cigar industry. My family and I look forward to continue working with them and others in the industry to ensure that America’s premium cigar tradition can continue for generations.