Photo of Agustin Rodriguez

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.

This year, several state legislatures will consider bills to establish vapor product directories. Amid heightened scrutiny of illicit vapor products by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), these product directory bills would create a mechanism for states to bar the sale of products that are not FDA-authorized or subject to a pending premarket application. Like state cigarette directories implemented in connection with the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, these directories would specify which vapor products are permitted to be sold in the state.Continue Reading Multiple States Consider Establishing Vapor Product Directories

The Troutman Pepper Tobacco + Nicotine Team will attend the Total Product Expo in Las Vegas, January 31 to February 2.  TPE is a business-to-business trade show that brings manufacturers, distributors and retailers together under one roof, providing an opportunity for companies to exhibit their products, connect with buyers, network with industry professionals, and obtain

The Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products (“CTP”) has released a strategic plan intended to guide the Center’s activity for the next five years. While the strategic plan highlights the laudable goals of regulatory clarity, stronger enforcement against non-compliant actors and more timely and transparent application review, the plan is problematic in that it promotes an agenda of burdensome new regulations and does not provide a clear emphasis on the promotion of less harmful alternatives in the tobacco and nicotine marketplace.  Continue Reading FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products Publishes Strategic Plan

In December, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warning letters to online retailers for reportedly selling unauthorized e-cigarette products. Consistent with the Center for Tobacco Products’ (CTP) recent focus, the letters target unauthorized products, which FDA states are particularly appealing to youth — including Lost Mary, Funky Republic/Funky Lands, and Elf Bar/EB Design. These warning letters follow FDA’s recent issuance of civil money penalty complaints against 25 brick-and-mortar retailers for failing to comply with prior warning letters. Those civil money penalty complaints, which we previously discussed here, continued the agency’s approach of seeking the maximum penalty approved by law.

Continue Reading FDA Maintains Heightened Enforcement Against Sellers of Illegal E-Cigarettes

In 2021 we wrote about the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment’s (OEHHA) plans to amend regulations governing Proposition 65 (Prop 65) short-form warning labels. On May 20, 2022, however, OEHHA notified the public that it was unable to complete the regulatory process within the required time period (i.e., one year of the date it was first noticed to the public), and that it instead intended to restart the process with a new regulatory proposal. OEHHA issued its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Clear and reasonable Warnings: Short-form Warnings on October 27, 2023, and on November 30, 2023 issued a notice that it will hold a public hearing on December 13, 2023.  The public may submit comments until December 20, 2023.Continue Reading California Considers Modifying Prop 65 Warning Requirements (Again)

Bryan Haynes and Agustin Rodriguez of the Troutman Pepper Tobacco + Nicotine team will attend the Food and Drug Law Institute 2023 Enforcement Conference on Wednesday, December 6 in Washington D.C.

The conference will have two panels discussing hot topics in tobacco and nicotine enforcement and litigation matters.  Bryan Haynes will moderate a panel discussing

Recently, NJOY LLC filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against more than 30 foreign and domestic defendants that manufacture, market, distribute, and sell tobacco products in an (indirect) effort to force them to comply with federal and state laws. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and R.J. Reynolds Vapor Company (collectively, RJR) also recently filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) against more than 25 foreign and domestic manufacturers, distributors, and retailers (collectively, the respondents) that seeks to prevent the import and resale of certain tobacco products. These lawsuits serve as two examples of how industry is trying to take independent legal action to target allegedly noncompliant actors and force them to comply with applicable law.

Continue Reading ENDS Companies Take Legal Action Against Allegedly Noncompliant Competitors

In September, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued two new rounds of warning letters to online retailers, manufacturers, and distributors for reportedly selling or distributing unauthorized e-cigarette products. Notably, FDA’s most recent letters target several popular disposable flavored products, including Elf Bar, EB Design, Lava, Cali, Bang, and Kangertech, which FDA states are particularly appealing to youth. FDA also sought civil money penalties against 22 retailers for failing to comply with prior warning letters and, for the first time, sought the maximum penalty allowed by law.Continue Reading FDA Ramps Up Enforcement Against Flavored Disposable E-Cigarettes as External Pressures Mount

Over the last decade, hundreds of localities have passed ordinances restricting or prohibiting the sale of some or all types of tobacco products. Some of these ordinances have been challenged in court, but, in most cases, the localities have prevailed. In this case, a group of retailers (the Retailers), sued Multnomah County, Oregon (the County) in January 2023 alleging that the County’s flavored tobacco product ban was unlawful. Earlier this month, consistent with the overall trend, the court ruled against the Retailers and upheld the County’s flavor ban.Continue Reading Oregon Court Upholds Local Tobacco Product Flavor Ban

Last summer, we wrote about the Iowa Attorney General’s $133 million suit against the tobacco manufacturers that are signatories to the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA).  Brought in Iowa state court, this suit alleged that those manufacturers (commonly referred to as “Participating Manufacturers”) acted in bad faith by disputing (and delaying the ultimate payment of) the amounts they owe to the state under the MSA. On August 22, 2023, Iowa compromised its past and future claims under the lawsuit and joined 37 other states that have settled similar disputes. Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird announced that the state reached a settlement with the Participating Manufacturers that will result in the state receiving payments of more than $171 million over the next six years.  Continue Reading Iowa Reaches MSA Settlement with Tobacco Manufacturers, Ending 18-Year Legal Dispute