Photo of Agustin Rodriguez

Agustin Rodriguez is a seasoned business counselor to regulated consumer products companies. Agustin brings years of experience managing in-house legal teams for a Fortune 200 international consumer packaged goods company, including complex litigation, tobacco and alcohol regulations and restrictions, international supply chain risk management, internal investigations and corporate compliance, transactions and governance.

The Biden administration and Democratic majorities in both the Senate and House could implement significant changes to federal tobacco and cannabis policy over the next two years. For tobacco, the change in party control of the White House and Senate will likely revive the debate around electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) products. For cannabis, the policy may shift toward outright reform (such as federal decriminalization or legalization), federal taxation, or the enactment of legislation beneficial to the cannabis industry.
Continue Reading Tobacco & Cannabis Policy in 2021

In November 2019, we reported that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued an interim final rule establishing a domestic hemp production program that was intended to go into effect for two years before being replaced by a final rule. On January 19, 2021, USDA published that final rule after considering nearly 5,900 public comments and incorporating lessons learned from the 2020 growing season. While the final rule focuses on industrial hemp production, not processed hemp products (such as CBD derived from hemp), it may be particularly important to those who wish to exercise due diligence on their agricultural supply chains. It will be effective March 22, 2021, unless the new Administration changes the timeline.
Continue Reading USDA Finalizes Rule to Establish Domestic Hemp Production Program

On December 22, 2020, we blogged about the omnibus 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act passed by Congress, which included legislation extending the applicability of the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (“PACT”) Act to electronic nicotine delivery systems or “ENDS.”  The legislation, called the ‘‘Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act,’’ sweeps ENDS into the PACT Act by amending the PACT Act’s definition of a cigarette to include electronic nicotine delivery systems, thereby subjecting remote sales of these products to various requirements and restrictions.  Another important feature of this new law is that the defined term “ENDS” in this new legislation actually covers more than electronic nicotine delivery systems.
Continue Reading THC, CBD and other Non-tobacco Vaping Product Sellers Should Take Note of New PACT Act Provisions

On Wednesday, December 23, 2020, the Washington State Attorney General’s office issued a press release that Smoker’s Outlet Online, a Pennsylvania online tobacco retailer, would be forced to pay $65,885 for allegedly distributing tobacco products into Washington state. The payment by Smoker’s Outlet Online was a settlement to avoid a lawsuit from the Attorney General’s

On December 21, 2020, as part of the omnibus 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act, Congress passed legislation extending the applicability of the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking (“PACT”) Act to electronic nicotine delivery systems or “ENDS.”  The legislation, called the ‘‘Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act,’’ sweeps ENDS into the PACT Act by amending the PACT Act’s definition of a cigarette to include electronic nicotine delivery systems.
Continue Reading Congress Passes Legislation Sweeping ENDS into PACT Act

On December 9, 2020, the Tennessee Department of Revenue issued its Notice #20-21, on the subject of the State of Tennessee’s excise tax on other tobacco products or “OTP”.  The Notice notes that OTP is defined as “cigars … manufactured tobacco and snuff of all descriptions whether made of tobacco or any substitute for tobacco.”
Continue Reading Tennessee Department of Revenue Clarifies that ENDS, Nicotine Pouches, Smokeable Hemp and Tobacco Substitutes Are Not Subject to OTP Tax

December 15 – 16, 2020

Agustin E. Rodriguez will be presenting on a panel focused on Hot Button Issues and Trends in State and Local Government Tobacco Regulation and Enforcement as part of the Food and Drug Law Institute’s (FDLI) virtual Enforcement, Litigation, and Compliance Conference on December 15-16. This panel will discuss these trends

As many in the tobacco industry know, there is a growing trend among state and local governments to prohibit or restrict the sale of flavored tobacco or nicotine products. Some governments are focusing on narrow subsets of flavored tobacco or nicotine products, like vapor products or electronic cigarettes, while others are intent on a broader prohibition or restriction that might include more traditional products like cigarettes, cigars, or smokeless tobacco. At the state level, Attorneys General have been at the forefront of the ensuing legal battles over this type of legislation.
Continue Reading California Attorney General Continues Fight to Ban Flavored Tobacco Products

On Friday, November 13, 2020, a federal district court entered a preliminary injunction against the City of Philadelphia’s Ordinance 180457, which purported to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products, with minor exceptions.  As in all cases where a preliminary injunction is entered, the court found that the Plaintiffs demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits and would be irreparably harmed absent an injunction, and that the balance of the equities and the public interest weighed in favor of an injunction.
Continue Reading Federal Court Enjoins City of Philadelphia Ban on Flavored Tobacco Products