A Triumph for the Premium Cigar Industry: Understanding the Recent Court Decision on FDA Regulation

On Wednesday, August 9, 2023, premium cigar enthusiasts around the United States breathed a sigh of relief. The United States District Court for the District of Columbia fully vacated the deeming rule as applied to premium cigars, in a case brought against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by the Cigar Association of America and other parties. This monumental decision has raised questions about the FDA’s role and influence, and the organizations that played a vital role in achieving this victory.

The FDA and Premium Cigars: A Background

The FDA has attempted to regulate premium cigars for over a decade. Critics have argued that the organization’s approach was arbitrary and capricious, failing to recognize the unique nature of premium cigars compared to other tobacco products. But what exactly was at stake?

The deeming rule aimed to regulate the premium cigar industry, which could have led to strict controls, oversight, and potential limitations on the availability of these products. For cigar manufacturers, retailers, and consumers, this was seen as an existential threat.

The Heroes of the Hour: PCA and CRA

In the fight against the FDA’s regulations, two organizations stood out: the Premium Cigar Association (PCA) and the Cigar Rights of America (CRA). Both claimed victory in the wake of the court’s decision, but who do we really have to thank?

According to the statement released by the Premium Cigar Association, they, along with other partner organizations like CRA, have spent millions of dollars and thousands of staff hours in this decades-long litigation fight. Their combined efforts supplied key data and information that led to the vacating of the deeming rule.

Scott Pearce, Executive Director of the Premium Cigar Association, celebrated the decision, stating, “This is a great day for the premium cigar industry. Judge Mehta has handed down a scathing rebuke of the FDA and its rule.”

Supporting One Group or Both?

The collaboration between PCA, CRA, and other partner organizations underscores the collective power of industry associations. While both organizations contributed to this important victory, the Premium Cigar Association seems to have played a more central role, both financially and strategically.

However, choosing to support one group over the other may not be necessary or productive. Both PCA and CRA have a shared interest in protecting and promoting the premium cigar industry. As this decision illustrates, their collaboration may be their greatest strength.

A Victory Cigar for Today

As Greg Zimmerman, President Emeritus of the Premium Cigar Association, says, “This is a day of victory for premium cigar manufacturers, retailers, and consumers. There is no better day to smoke a victory cigar than today.” The court’s decision marks a triumph for the industry, and those who enjoy premium cigars can rest easier knowing that these products will continue to be treated with the distinction they deserve.

The Premium Cigar Association will host a Facebook Live event on Friday, August 11, 2023, at 2 p.m. to discuss the implications of this remedy and decision further. If you want to delve deeper into this historic ruling, you can read the court’s decision in its entirety here.