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Agustin is sought after by clients for his strategic counsel on their most challenging competitive and regulatory compliance issues, including tobacco Master Settlement Agreement issues, federal and state enforcement investigations, licensing and excise tax issues, developing compliance programs, and evaluating advertising and marketing practices. A partner in the firm’s Regulatory Investigations, Strategy + Enforcement (RISE) Practice Group as well as its Tobacco and Cannabis law practices, he represents manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and suppliers in all aspects of their businesses, including regulatory compliance, FDA requirements, administrative disputes involving federal or state governmental entities, mergers and acquisitions, commercial agreements, and taxation matters.

The Department has issued updated guidance addressing remote sellers’ cigarette and tobacco tax responsibilities after the Minnesota Legislature’s mid-2021 amendments to the State’s cigarette and tobacco tax and tobacco product delivery sales statutes, Congress’ late-2020 amendment of the Jenkins Act, and a 2018 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court on permissible state taxation of remote sales.

On May 9, 2022, the Minnesota Department of Revenue (the “Department”) issued Revenue Notice # 22‑02 on remote sellers’ tax payment responsibilities under the State’s cigarette and tobacco tax and tobacco product delivery sales statutes. The notice applies to all delivery sales after December 31, 2021, and it revokes and replaces the Department’s earlier notice on these subjects.
Continue Reading Minnesota Department of Revenue Revokes and Replaces Guidance on Remote Sellers’ Tobacco Tax Responsibilities

On July 28, the Iowa attorney general’s office filed suit against Philip Morris, USA, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., and 16 other tobacco companies, accusing them of defrauding Iowa of over $133 million by allegedly engaging in bad faith disputes over amounts due under the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA).

Tobacco company signatories to the MSA, also known as participating manufacturers (PMs), must pay the settling states their portion of $9 billion dollars on an annual basis. These payments are subject to a handful of various upward and downward adjustments, one of which is known as the “Non-Participating Manufacturer Adjustment” or “NPM Adjustment.” The NPM Adjustment may reduce the amount of money a state is due from the PMs in a given year if the state did not enact and “diligently enforce” an “escrow statute,” requiring non-participating manufacturers (NPMs) to place money in proportion to their sales made into that state into an escrow account.
Continue Reading Iowa Attorney General Brings Suit Against Participating Manufacturers to the Master Settlement Agreement

FDA reports that the progress of its review of popular vapor products’ pending PMTAs remains in line with its first report.

On July 28, 2022, FDA filed a status report in American Academy of Pediatrics, et al. v. FDA, et al., No. 8:18-cv-00883 (D. Md.), addressing its review of pending premarket tobacco applications (“PMTAs”) for certain popular vapor products.  FDA filed the status report pursuant to a court order previously covered on this blog.  This is FDA’s second status report filed pursuant to that order, the first having been filed on May 13.
Continue Reading Deeming Regulations Litigation Update – FDA Files Second Status Report on Pending Vapor Products PMTAs

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced plans to publish a proposed rule that would establish a maximum nicotine level in cigarettes and certain “other combusted tobacco products.” At the moment, it is not clear what “other combusted products” FDA might have in mind. According to the Spring 2022 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, FDA is targeting May 2023 to issue the proposed rule, but that could always change.
Continue Reading FDA Set to Propose Maximum Nicotine Level in Cigarettes

On June 10, a bipartisan coalition of 31 state attorneys general, led by Idaho, Illinois, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania, sent a letter to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Robert M. Califf, asking the agency to reject premarket tobacco product applications (PMTAs) for all products that contain nicotine not derived from tobacco, also known as non-tobacco nicotine (NTN) or synthetic nicotine.
Continue Reading Bipartisan Coalition of 31 State AGs Urge FDA to Deny Marketing Authorization for Non-Tobacco Nicotine Products

Status report concerns FDA’s review of 240 PMTAs submitted on or before September 9, 2020, for vapor products with larger market shares.  FDA estimates that it will resolve most of these in the periods before July 2022 and from April through June 2023.

Pursuant to an order entered by Judge Paul W. Grimm in American Academy of Pediatrics, et al. v. FDA, et al., No. 8:18-cv-00883 (D. Md.), on May 13, 2022, FDA filed its first status report regarding its review of pending premarket tobacco applications (“PMTAs”) for certain popular vapor products.
Continue Reading Deeming Regulations Litigation Update – FDA Files Status Report on Pending PMTAs for Popular Vapor Products

Bryan Haynes and Agustin Rodriguez of the Troutman Pepper Tobacco Team will be at FDLI Annual Conference on June 14-15 in Washington, DC.  This is FDLI’s first in-person conference since 2019.  The conference brings together leading regulators, attorneys, industry representatives, academics, consumer advocates, and consultants to discuss current issues and latest trends in tobacco, nicotine

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has denied the Plaintiffs’/Appellants’ petition for a rehearing en banc following a divided panel’s holding that the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act neither expressly nor impliedly preempts Los Angeles County’s ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products.

On May 11, 2022, a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied a petition for rehearing en banc filed by Plaintiffs/Appellants R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Inc., American Snuff Co., and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. (together, the “Plaintiffs/Appellants”) in R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al. v. Los Angeles County, et al., No. 20-55930.  As discussed more fully by Troutman Pepper in Vapor Voice, the same panel earlier held in a split 2-1 decision that Los Angeles County’s flavored tobacco ban is not preempted by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, Pub. L. No. 111-31, 123 Stat. 1776 (June 22, 2009) (the “TCA”).
Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Denies Petition for Rehearing en Banc in Appeal over Preemption of Los Angeles County’s Flavored Tobacco Ban

Retailers should take note that Philip Morris USA Inc., Altria Group, Inc, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company have reached an agreement with the United States Department of Justice on warnings to be placed in retail stores carrying the manufacturers’ cigarettes to warn consumers about the health effects of tobacco. These are referred to as “corrective-statement signs” because they are meant as “corrections” to the manufacturers’ alleged deliberate misleading of consumers as to the dangers of smoking from the 1950s until the early 2000s.
Continue Reading Cigarette Companies and Federal Government Reach Agreement on Warnings to be Displayed in Retail Stores

New Virginia law addresses excise taxation and other requirements regarding remote retail sales of cigars and pipe tobacco to consumers in the Commonwealth.

On April 27, 2022, the Virginia General Assembly passed House Bill 1199 and Senate Bill 748 regarding the application of the Commonwealth’s tobacco products tax on “remote retail sales” of cigars and pipe tobacco and related requirements.
Continue Reading Virginia Enacts Tobacco Products Tax Law Applicable to Remote Retail Sales of Cigars and Pipe Tobacco