IPCPR Legislative | Rubio Holds Small Business Field Hearing: “Keeping Small, Premium Cigar Businesses Rolling”

Rubio Holds Small Business Field Hearing: “Keeping Small, Premium Cigar Businesses Rolling”

05 Apr Rubio Holds Small Business Field Hearing: “Keeping Small, Premium Cigar Businesses Rolling”

Today, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), as Chairman of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, held a field hearing in Tampa, Florida on “Keeping Small, Premium Cigar Businesses Rolling”.  The hearing’s purpose – to “look at the climate of overregulation of the premium cigar industry, an iconic staple to Florida’s economy” according to a press release from Senator Rubio’s office.

Witnesses who spoke were Charles Maresca (director of Interagency Affairs in the Office of Advocacy at the U.S. Small Business Administration), Dr. Brad Rodu (endowed chair for Tobacco Harm Reduction Research in the University of Louisville), Drew Newman (general counsel for J.C. Newman Cigar Company and great-grandson of J.C. Newman), and Jeff Borysiewicz (president and founder of the Corona Cigar Company).

Mr. Maresca’s testimony gave an overview of the Small Business Administration (SBA)’s involvement since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s proposal of the Deeming Rule in 2014.  The SBA expressed concern at that time and encouraged FDA to publish a supplemental Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) before the Deeming Rule became final in 2016.  The agency failed to do so and SBA’s concerns remain.  Mr. Maresca stated “The FDA must conduct a more robust economic analysis on the rule’s impacts on small businesses, specific to the affected premium cigar industry, and consider significant alternatives to those impacts to accomplish the agency’s stated objective while keeping small premium cigar manufacturers and retailers in business”.

Dr. Robu’s testimony was heavily backed by science and he concluded that “The agency’s unsupported position has led to needlessly subjecting cigar and pipe smokers, and the manufacturers of those products, to the same onerous and burdensome regulatory regime as much more hazardous cigarettes.”

Mr. Borysiewicz explained how these regulations have wide reaching negative impacts on everyone in the culturally rich premium cigar industry from manufacturers to retailers to farmers.  He emphasized the urgency of finding a solution because “the greatest threat to my business and to the thousands of other premium cigar retailers just like me, is the heavy hand of government regulations being pushed forward by the FDA”.

Mr. Newman brought the perspective of a manufacturer and explained why a unique premium cigar, typically manufactured in a small batch, is not the same as mass produced cigarettes.  Between Substantial Equivalence Applications, high testing standards, user fees, and obtrusive warning label requirements, “Our boutique premium cigar industry simply cannot absorb these massive regulatory costs” according to Mr. Newman.

The IPCPR and all of our industry partners are extremely encouraged by the opportunity this hearing provided and grateful to Senator Rubio for giving us a platform to speak on the harmful impact of burdensome FDA regulations.  We encourage all Florida members to reach out to Senator Rubio and to thank him for his diligence in fighting for the premium cigar industry.  To watch the recorded hearing CLICK HERE.

For questions regarding the hearing or any other legislative matters, reach out to Tori Ellington by emailing tori@ipcpr.org.

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