From IPCPR: Earlier today, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) stood up for premium cigar retailers and manufacturers around the country in a speech before the Senate Appropriations Committee. During consideration of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, which funds the FDA, Senator Rubio urged his colleagues to support a provision that acutely defines premium cigars and exempts them from current FDA regulations.
Despite bi-partisan and bi-cameral support, the Senator stated his disappointment that the Senate bill currently does not contain the language but implored his colleagues to address it soon. As he put it, “The industry’s future is at stake …. I truly think it’s a matter of fairness.” The House’s Agriculture Appropriations bill contains the cigar exemption provision.
An issue of great importance to his constituents in Florida and around the country, Senator Rubio implored his colleagues to understand the true impacts of current FDA regulations. “This isn’t about curtailing tobacco use, because it’s already on the decline. This is about thousands of small businesses and their employees that frankly have done nothing wrong but now the government is singling them out.”
Responding to concerns over youth use of tobacco, Senator Rubio offered the following. “We all share the goal of eliminating underage tobacco use and it is already illegal to sell tobacco to anyone under 18 years of age.” He rightly pointed out that there is no such problem amongst premium cigars, “(this) is not a product that either preys on, seeks to market to or has a problem with underage use.” Rubio added that the premium cigar industry “has done nothing wrong and in my view is being treated unfairly.”
In addition to Senator Rubio – Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) declared his support on this critical issue. While urging opponents of exemption to speak frankly and openly with the tobacco retailers and constituents in their states, Manchin continued laying out the case for premium cigar exemption. “I’m all for curtailing addiction to tobacco use but…. You don’t see kids going around smoking these fine cigars. It supports such a robust business… It does not add to any type of addiction or support any type of addiction.”