Today, August 10, 2018, is the compliance date for the health warnings contained in the FDA’s Deeming Rule and codified in 21 C.F.R. Part 1143. In particular, as of today, roll-your-own (RYO) tobacco, cigarette tobacco, or covered tobacco products (except cigars and pipe tobacco) such as e-liquids that contain tobacco-derived nicotine manufactured, packaged, sold, offered for sale, distributed, or imported for sale or distribution within the United States must bear the required warning statement (i.e., “WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.”) on the package label, per 21 C.F.R. § 1143.3(a)(1). This warning statement requirement also applies to advertising (including websites and social media) for RYO tobacco, cigarette tobacco, and covered tobacco products (except cigars and pipe tobacco).
The warning statement must also comply with certain requirements, with respect to font, text, size, placement, and formatting of the warning statement on the package labels. Indeed, the regulation requires that the required warning statement “appear directly on the package” and “be clearly visible underneath any cellophane or other clear wrapping as follows”:
- Be located in a conspicuous and prominent place on the two “principal display panels” of the package;
- Comprise at least 30 percent of each of the principal display panels;
- Be printed in at least 12-point font size and must occupy the greatest possible proportion of the warning label area set aside for the required text;
- Be printed in conspicuous and legible Helvetica bold or Arial bold type or other similar sans serif fonts and in black text on a white background or white text on a black background in a manner that contrasts by typography, layout, or color, with all other printed material on the package;
- Be capitalized and punctuated as indicated in 21 CFR § 1143.3(a)(1); and
- Be centered in the warning area in which the text is required to be printed and positioned such that the text of the required warning statement and the other information on the principal display panels have the same orientation.
For covered tobacco products (other than cigars), cigarette tobacco products, and RYO tobacco products that are too small or otherwise unable to accommodate a label with sufficient space to bear the required warning statement, the required warning statement must appear on one of the following: carton, outer container, wrapper, or tag firmly and permanently affixed to the tobacco product package.
Compliance Policy and Safe Harbor for Retailers
FDA created a compliance policy for the 21 C.F.R. § 1143.3 nicotine addiction warning in its Guidance Document, Extension of Certain Tobacco Product Compliance Deadlines Related to the Final Deeming Rule, which provides (on page 5):
The Deeming Rule also contains a retailer safe harbor, which provides that a retailer of cigarette tobacco, RYO tobacco, or covered tobacco products (other than cigars) will not be in violation of 21 C.F.R. § 1143.3 for packaging that: (i) contains a health warning; (ii) is supplied to the retailer by the tobacco product manufacturer, importer, or distributor, who has the required state, local, or Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)-issued license or permit, if applicable; and (iii) is not altered by the retailer in a material way.
If you have questions about the compliance policy or the retailer safe harbor, please let us know.
Alternative Required Warning Statement for Zero Nicotine Products
For products that do not contain nicotine, but that are made or derived from tobacco, a tobacco product manufacturer is permitted to display an alternative statement (i.e., “This product is made from tobacco”) on all packages and advertisements in accordance with the requirements of 21 C.F.R. § 1143.3. An example of such a product would be a zero-nicotine e-liquid that contains tobacco-derived flavors or extracts. To be permitted to make such a statement, manufacturers are required to submit a confirmation statement to FDA certifying to be true that the product does not contain nicotine and that the tobacco product manufacturer has data to support that assertion. If you would like to submit such a self-certification to FDA, let us know.
A zero-nicotine e-liquid that does not contain any other tobacco-derived ingredients is not a covered tobacco product subject to either the nicotine addiction warning or alternative statement.
Effect of Injunction in Cigar Association of America v. FDA
Importantly, due to a recent decision by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, the warnings set forth in 21 C.F.R. §§ 1143.3 and 1143.5 are not applicable to cigars and pipe tobacco until 60 days after final disposition of the plaintiffs’ appeal of the courts’ order on the health warning requirements. FDA has stated that the Agency intends to comply with the court’s order in Cigar Association of America. Further, FDA explained that the Agency does not intend to enforce the labeling requirements under sections 903(a)(2) (i.e., requirement that label contain the name and place of business of the tobacco product manufacturer, packer, or distributor; an accurate statement of the quantity of contents in terms of weight, measure, or numerical count; and an accurate statement of the percentage of domestically grown vs. foreign grown tobacco) and 920(a)(1) (i.e., requirement to bear “Sale only allowed in the United States” statement) for cigars and pipe tobacco while the injunction is in effect so that firms are able to make required label changes at one time.
Notably, the court’s order does not enjoin FDA from enforcing the health warning requirements for other product categories, including electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) products, hookah tobacco, and cigarette tobacco and RYO tobacco.
Other Labeling Requirements
The Deeming Rule also imposed additional labeling requirements on newly deemed products. For example, tobacco products deemed under the Deeming Rule to be subject to FDA’s authority, if in package form, are required to bear a label containing:
- the name and place of business of the tobacco product manufacturer, packer, or distributor;
- an accurate statement of the quantity of the contents in terms of weight, measure, or numerical count; and
- the statement “Sale only allowed in the United States” on labels, packaging, and shipping containers pursuant to Section 920(a) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA).
In addition, pursuant to Section 903(a)(2)(C) of the FDCA, a tobacco product in package form is misbranded if its label does not include an accurate statement of the percentage of foreign and domestic grown tobacco used in the product. However, in a draft guidance document entitled, “Interpretation of and Compliance Policy for Certain Label Requirement; Applicability of Certain Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act Requirements to Vape Shops,” FDA stated that, at this time, it does not intend to enforce this requirement for products made or derived from tobacco, such as tobacco-derived liquid nicotine and e-liquid made or derived from tobacco. FDA explained that it provided this compliance policy “because it recognizes the current difficulty, in many circumstances, qualifying the percentage of foreign and domestic grown tobacco used in these products.”
If you have any questions about warning requirements for product labels and advertisements or any of the other Tobacco and Control Act requirements, contact Azim Chowdhury, Partner (202) 434.4230, (firstname.lastname@example.org). For more information on our Tobacco and E-Vapor Practice in general, visit www.khlaw.com/evapor. You can also follow Azim Chowdhury on Twitter for updates.
 21 C.F.R. § 1143.3(a)(2).
 21 C.F.R. § 1143.3(a)(3).
 21 C.F.R. § 1143.3(c).
 See Order, Cigar Ass’n of Am. v. U.S. Food & Drug Admin., No. 1:16-cv-01460 (D.D.C. July 5, 2018).
 See FDA, “Covered” Tobacco products and Roll-Your-Own Cigarette Tobacco Labeling and Warning Statement Requirements, https://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/Labeling/Labeling/ucm524470.htm?utm_source=CTPTwitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=ctp-warninglabel.
 See Deeming Tobacco Products to be Subject to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as Amended by the Family Smoking Prevention and tobacco Control Act; Restrictions on the Sale and Distribution of Tobacco Products and Required Warning Statements for Tobacco Products, 81 Fed. Reg. 28974, 29006 (noting that the compliance date for the 903(a)(2) and 920(a)91) requirements is intended to match the date for health warnings).
 FDA, Draft Guidance for Industry: Interpretation of and Compliance Policy for Certain Label Requirement; Applicability of Certain Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act Requirements to Vape Shops (Jan. 2017), https://www.fda.gov/downloads/TobaccoProducts/Labeling/RulesRegulationsGuidance/UCM536997.pdf .
 Id., at 5-6.