Groups urge lawmakers to reject any spending bill blocking e-cig, cigar regs

Health and medical groups are urging members of the House Appropriations Committee to reject any budget proposal that will make it harder for the Food and Drug Administration to issue first-ever regulations for cigars and electronic cigarettes.

In a letter to the committee Monday, 31 groups said they are concerned with a provision of the 2017 proposed budget for Agriculture, Rural Development, the Food and Drug Administration and related agencies that would exempt “large and premium” cigars, some costing as little as $1, from FDA oversight.

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The proposal also blocks the FDA from using funds to “finalize, implement, administer or enforce” a long awaited rule allowing the agency to regulate all tobacco products unless those type of cigars are excluded.

“Exempting certain cigars from FDA oversight will have serious consequences,” said the letter signed by groups including the American Medical Association, the American Lung Association and March of Dimes. “There are known health risks linked to cigar smoking, including several types of cancer as well as lung and heart disease.  Exempting large and premium cigars could also inaccurately imply that they are safe to use and pose no harm.”

The groups say they are also concerned that lawmakers might try to change the date in FDA’s proposed rule that would require any cigar or e-cigarette that hit store shelves after Feb. 15, 2007 to apply retroactively for approval.

Industry groups are lobbying for the date to be changed to the date FDA issues its final rule.

“Changing this date would exempt e-cigarettes, cigars and other products now on the market from this FDA review and would significantly weaken FDA’s ability to take prompt action to protect children from the thousands of fruit- and candy-flavored e-cigarettes and cigars that have flooded the market in recent years,” the groups said.