House Committee Passes Cigar Bar Legislation

Update 3/22/21 – The Montana Senate held the first hearing on HB 285.The bill sponsor Senator Jeremy Trebas noted that there are a few amendments coming forward including the need to include a requirement for walk in humidors and an inclusion for private clubs.
Opponents, as expected, concentrated objections on the risks to health and children. While there were more opponents than proponents, the opponents testified on subjects unrelated to the change or quoted as “facts” common misinformation.

The committee voted to “table” the bill, which means that it is likely dead and will not get out of committee for a vote.

We will try again in two years with several representatives and Senators lined up for support.

Link to record hearing: Begins at 9:31:37 http://sg001-harmony.sliq.net/00309/Harmony/en/PowerBrowser/PowerBrowserV2/20210319/-1/40710

Update 3/17/21 – HB 285 passes the House and moves to the Senate:  HB 285 passed through the House floor vote by a margin of 55 to 43. The bill was transmitted to the Senate where it has its first hearing in the Judiciary Committee on March 19th. We are working to have the bill amended to include private cigar clubs such as Fools’ End, Summit Cigar Lounge, and the Bozeman Cigar club.

The club is working to have language included in this bill that would specifically recognize an exemption for private clubs. It is the opinion of several knowledgeable people involved with the legislature that this bill is unlikely to pass both houses without significant change. See this PDF for proposed legislation.

U.S Court of Appeals for DC Strikes Down Warning Labels For All Cigars

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Premium Cigar Association (PCA) and Cigar Rights of America (CRA) are pleased that a unanimous panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found flaws in the FDA’s Deeming Rule regulating cigars and held that the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) did not do necessary work to show an effect of large cigar warning labels on reducing smoking rates. 

Judge Gregory G. Katsas notes in the opinion, “The Tobacco Control Act permits the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products for the public health, but only after considering whether the regulation would likely increase or decrease the number of smokers. Under this authority, the FDA promulgated regulations requiring extensive health warnings on packaging and in advertising for cigars and pipe tobacco. 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.” 

Earlier this year U.S. Federal District Court Judge Amit Mehta issued a ruling on February 3rd overturning the FDA regulation that required six new health warning statements for premium cigars to be printed on premium cigar packaging/cigar boxes and premium cigar advertisements. The court found that “the FDA’s subjecting of premium cigars to warnings requirements to be arbitrary and capricious in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), insofar as the agency failed to provide a reasoned explanation for this action.” 

Both of these decisions further affirm the message of the PCA and CRA:  That the FDA’s regulation of premium cigars is flawed and exceeds its statutory authority without justification. PCA Executive Director Scott Pearce notes, “We commend the work of our legal team on this case and providing a win for the industry. We believe that similar flaws infect the substantial equivalence requirements, which we continue to fight in the courts and with the administration.”  

Glynn Loope, executive director at Cigar Rights of America, stated upon the release of the court’s decision, “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. For all too long, that has been the approach of the agency, and the courts continuously tell them they’re wrong. 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.”

To read the Court’s full decision, click here.

The Cigar Cruise – USS Carl Vinson 2018

The USS Carl Vinson was supplied with cigars for its officers during the 2017-2018 deployment. The cigars were provided by Fools End Club contributions for the purchase of Miami Cigars. This was all made possible by Worden’s Market, Nestor Miranda, and Ron Sharkey. The lady in these photos is LT. Jamie Sharkey, Annapolis grad and Ron and Debbie Sharkey’s daughter.  Continue reading “The Cigar Cruise – USS Carl Vinson 2018”