Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), one of the strongest supporters of cigars in Congress, reintroduced a bill today seeking to protect premium cigars from legislation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act was first introduced in 2011, and was most recently brought up by Rubio in 2019.
“The premium cigar industry is an iconic staple in Florida’s economy,” Rubio said. “For far too long, small and family-owned businesses have been facing the threat of regulation that could force many to close their shops. I am proud to reintroduce this legislation that would provide Florida premium cigarmakers the certainty they need to continue their craft, and I urge my colleagues to swiftly pass this bill.”
The co-sponsors of this bill are fellow republicans Tom Cotton (R-AR), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Rick Scott (R-FL), John Barrasso (R-WY), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), John Boozman (R-AR), and John Kennedy (R-LA).
The senator’s definition of a premium cigar includes the traditional cigars you read about in Cigar Aficionado, which are made entirely by hand and contain all long-filler tobaccos, along with cigars made on artisanal machines, such as those made at J. C. Newman Cigar Co. in Tampa, Florida. J.C. Newman also makes a small number of cigars entirely by hand in its historic Ybor City factory.
The bill seeks to draw a line of distinction between those cigars, which account for a few hundred million sold each year in the United States, and the vast majority of cigars, which are made on high-tech machines in the billions of units, and made with not only shredded tobacco but a host of other ingredients and flavorings.
“From Tampa’s Ybor City to Miami’s Little Havana, handcrafted cigars have been an important part of Florida’s cultural heritage for more than 150 years,” said Drew Newman of Tampa’s J.C. Newman Cigar Co. in Tampa. “Today, Florida’s historic premium cigar industry supports thousands of jobs, from farmers to cigar rollers to retailers. We are tremendously grateful to Sen. Rubio for his continued leadership and advocacy in support of small, family businesses in Florida.”