Sen. Marco Rubio, one of the cigar industry’s staunchest allies in Congress, says that the FDA has gone too far in its bid to regulate the cigar industry. Rubio (R-FL) wrote an opinion piece called “Congress Must Act to Save America’s Cigar Industry from Going Up in Smoke,” which was published in the Tampa Bay Times on July 5.
“A 2016 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rule finalized by the Obama administration now threatens the livelihood of America’s premium cigar manufacturers and retailers, including J.C. Newman,” Rubio wrote, referring to J.C. Newman Cigar Co., Tampa’s last remaining large-scale cigar manufacturer. “The rule was intended to protect children from cigarettes and other tobacco products marketed to youth. I agree that children should not be targeted for tobacco consumption. However, the federal government’s own research proves what we already knew—children are not smoking hand-rolled, premium cigars and those manufacturers are not marketing premium cigars to kids. This rule’s practical effect will be devastating for the premium cigar industry.”
This is not the first time that Rubio has spoken out in favor of the premium cigar industry. In April he held a field hearing in Tampa about FDA regulations. Earlier this year he reintroduced a bill to exempt the handmade cigar industry from FDA regulation. In July 2018, he referred to the FDA regulations on cigars as “the epitome of government overreach” during a speech on the Senate floor.
Rubio, 48, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010, and reelected in 2016.