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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.

On November 16, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein launched a probe into e-cigarette maker Puff Bar and others, citing concerns of youth-appealing flavors, youth marketing, and poor age verification. In a statement, Stein announced, “We are actively investigating Puff Bar and other companies at all stages of the distribution chain, from manufacturers to retailers and everything in between to ensure they are not profiting off kids.”
Continue Reading North Carolina AG Opens Investigation Into E-Cigarette Maker Puff Bar

More than a year and a half ago, in March 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its final rule on a graphic-warning requirement for cigarettes. The rule—initially slated to take effect June 18, 2021—would require 11 new textual, health warning statements accompanied by color, “photorealistic” images displayed on the top 50% of the front and rear panels of cigarette packs and top 20% of cigarette ads. The rule’s effective date, however, has been extended multiple times by court order and is currently set for October 11, 2022. So when might tobacco manufacturers need to start producing new cigarette packs and ads?
Continue Reading When Might FDA’s Graphic Warning Rule for Cigarettes Take Effect?

As of October 20, 2021, the final rule of the U.S. Postal Service (the “USPS”) regarding the treatment of electronic nicotine delivery systems (“ENDS”) in the mail is available for public inspection via the link here.  The final rule generally prohibits the mailing of ENDS, subject to certain exceptions, as of the date of its publication in the Federal Register, which we understand will be tomorrow, October 21, 2020.  We also expect that as of October 21st, USPS will publish accompanying implementation materials on its websites.  
Continue Reading U.S. Postal Service Sets Rule Prohibiting the Mailing of ENDS Products

Governor Gavin Newsome recently signed California Assembly Bill 45 (AB 45) into law, which, among other things, allows hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) to be included in any food, beverages, and dietary supplements sold in California. This is not only a break from California’s prior position prohibiting CBD from being included in such products even as the State began to tax and regulate its cannabis industry, but it is also in stark contrast with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) current position on the issue.
Continue Reading California Passes CBD Law That Conflicts With FDA Guidance

On October 5, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) published in the Federal Register its Final Rule on the content and format of reports intended to demonstrate the substantial equivalence of a tobacco product (“SE Reports”). The rule originally was displayed in January in the Federal Register, but was quickly retracted by the Biden Administration and did not publish.
Continue Reading FDA (Re)Issues Final Rule on Substantial Equivalence

It is widely known that trafficking in controlled substances is a crime under federal law. Traffickers and would-be traffickers be warned, however, that if you do choose to make income from trafficking in Schedule I or II controlled substances (including cannabis, cocaine, or psychedelic mushrooms), that income is fully taxable by the U.S. government. And, if you have employees helping you produce and sell federal Schedule I or II controlled substances (as many state-legal cannabis businesses do), you owe federal employment taxes as well.
Continue Reading IRS Launches Cannabis-Industry Focused Compliance Initiative

On Wednesday, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld a jury’s award of $10 million in punitive damages in a wrongful-death case against Philip Morris USA Inc. (“PM USA”), rejecting the tobacco company’s argument that such relief was precluded by the 1998 master settlement agreement between the Massachusetts Attorney General, PM USA, and other attorneys general and tobacco manufacturers.[1]

Continue Reading Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Affirms Punitive Damages Award Against Philip Morris USA Inc. In Spite of Master Settlement Agreement Release

Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan recently announced that his office settled violations of the state’s delivery sale law with three online electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) sellers. Since December 2020 and including these most recent settlements, the state has collected $472,500 from 13 companies for such violations, signaling the state’s growing desire to enforce this law against online ENDS sellers.

Continue Reading Vermont Settles with Online Retailers for Violations of Delivery Sale and Consumer Protection Laws

On Friday, July 23, 2021, the attached bill was introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. In the Senate it was introduced by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), along with Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Mitt Romney (R-UT).  The House companion bill was introduced by Rep. Cheri Bustos.

Troutman Pepper Strategies (TPS), a full-service government affairs and issue management arm of Troutman Pepper, regularly communicates with members of Congress and staff, including relevant committee staff, regarding the status of tobacco-related legislation and policy. These relationships include and extend beyond the congressional committees with tobacco jurisdiction, such as the House Energy & Commerce Committee and the Senate HELP Committee. Additionally, TPS communicates with agency officials, including the Food and Drug Administration and the White House, about tobacco-related regulations and policy.
Continue Reading Tobacco in the 117th Congress