Marco Rubio, Bill Nelson Argue For Premium Cigar Exemption

Marco Rubio, Bill Nelson Argue For Premium Cigar Exemption

Two U.S. Senators from Florida want the FDA to spare the premium cigar industry from harmful regulation. Yesterday, Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson sent a letter to Dr. Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, expressing concern that the agency has “failed to consider” the consequential impact of additional regulations on Florida’s premium cigar industry.

"Premium cigars have been an important industry in Florida for nearly 150 years,” the letter states. “Florida is home to America's oldest premium cigar manufacturer, approximately 450 premium cigar retailers, as well as about 90 manufacturers and distributors. Many of these are small, family-owned businesses, which collectively support about 10,000 jobs. We are concerned that additional regulation of premium cigars could force these small businesses to close.”

Rubio, who is a Republican, and Nelson, a Democrat, said they agree with the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which gives the FDA regulatory control over tobacco products with the intention of preventing youth smoking. The senators, however, do not believe that regulating premium cigars would further this cause, citing recent data published in a Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health Study indicating that children do not smoke premium cigars. 

"We are concerned that the FDA failed to consider that the potential benefits of regulating premium cigars do not exceed the consequential impact on Florida's premium cigar retailers, manufacturers, employees and consumers," the letter states. The senators encourage the FDA to conduct a cost-benefit analysis to find an “appropriate balance between protecting public health and allowing Florida's small businesses to thrive.” 

Yesterday’s letter comes on the heels of a similar letter that was signed by 17 U.S. Senators—including Sens. Rubio and Nelson—and sent to the FDA late last month. Both letters thank the FDA for allowing a commenting period that will be used to inform the agency’s new regulatory policies. And both letters ultimately conclude that the FDA should exempt premium cigars from additional regulation. 

The FDA extended its commenting period last month and deadline is now July 25. (Click here to read Marvin R. Shanken’s blog and learn how to submit a comment of your own.)