Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City and a stalwart defender of cigar rights, gave the opening speech at the annual International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers trade show on July 11. Giuliani, an avid cigar smoker who has appeared on the cover of Cigar Aficionado magazine, told the audience of cigar shop owners and cigar industry executives about how to deal with the onerous burden of FDA regulations they are facing, and his insights on the Trump Administration's views on the subject.
"American business is more concerned about regulations than taxes," said Giuliani. "They don't like taxes—taxes are too high—but the thing that's really killing American business is regulations."
Giuliani urged the audience to be optimistic and patient, and gave hope about the possibility of relief.
"I wrote a book on leadership. Two of the main things of it are optimism, and being able to react to changes that come about. First of all, you should be optimistic. And I'm going to tell you why," said Giuliani. "This administration in Washington, which I think I know well...you couldn't have a more anti-regulatory group than this group."
President Trump, he said, "has a very clear understanding that not only are businesses like yours, big and small, suffering from regulation, American business is suffering."
Giuliani stressed that change would not be immediate. "The only advice I would have is it will take a little while."
"We invited America's Mayor for two reasons," said Mark Pursell, CEO of the IPCPR. "One being his career of public leadership, including the cleaning up of New York City and the post 9/11 strength he gave to the entire country. Secondly, we know he loves premium cigars and is on our side of the issues of the day. He gave us hope in the new Administration's policies of limited governmental regulation and encouraged us to work with President Trump's appointees to right what is wrong with the FDA rule that will, if left unchecked, do significant damage to a small business industry without corresponding benefits to public health."
The audience puffed on cigars as Giuliani spoke, and his words were well received. "I think he gave the right message at the right time," said Craig Cass, owner of the Tinder Box of the Carolinas chain of cigar stores. "We were so excited by his energy and his positive vibe. We had so many members come to us and say ‘one of the best IPCPR speakers of all time.' He truly cares about this category, and small business. We felt like the energy leaving that breakfast and hitting the show floor was epic."
After his speech, Giuliani roamed the floor of the show, which had opened earlier that morning. He took a break at the Rocky Patel booth, among others, and lit up with the cigarmaker. "He was very complimentary about the fight with FDA," said Patel.