DC Circuit Court of Appeals Tosses Warning Labels for Cigars
Updated 7/8 – Ed.
The Cigar Rights of America (CRA) reported earlier today that a unanimous decision by the US District of Columbia District Court of Appeals tossed out the FDA’s Warning Label regulation, a major victory for the cigar industry. This follows on the heels of a February ruling by Washington, DC District Court Judge Amit Mehta, whose ruling originally vacated the warning label requirement (on premium cigars only) which included the stern warning, ” [the] FDA failed to articulate a reasoned basis for requiring warning labels for premium cigars.”
The court noted 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.” With regard to the warning labels as well as substantial equivalence looming, many in the industry have often characterized the FDA’s efforts to regulate the cigar industry as “a solution in search of a problem” and what today’s ruling means for warning labels is essentially that, use of unsubstantiated and distorted reasoning cannot compel the use of unfair, grotesque labels on all cigar boxes.
In his opinion, DC Circuit Appeals Court Judge Greg Katsas states, “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.” Read the Court’s full decision here.
Both CRA’s Glynn Loope and Premium Cigar Association’s (PCA) Scott Pearce hailed the ruling with Loope proclaiming, “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.” – In Fumo Pax!