Drew Newman Testimony at Small Business Hearing in Tampa

Drew Newman Testimony at Small Business Hearing in Tampa

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, convened a hearing on Friday, April 5th, 2019 titled, “Keeping Small, Premium Cigar Businesses Rolling.”

Witness, 4th Generation Owner, and General Cousel  Drew Newman, delivered the following testimony:


Testimony of Drew Newman

General Counsel and Great-Grandson of the Founder

J.C. Newman Cigar Co.

April 5, 2019

Good afternoon Mr. Chairman and Members of Congress.

In 1895, my great-grandfather, J.C. Newman, founded our family business.  Four generations and 124 years later, we are the oldest, family-owned, premium cigar company in America.

Here in Tampa, we proudly roll premium cigars the same way that my great-grandfather did a century ago – both by hand and by hand-operated, antique machines from the 1930s.  We have 136 hard working and dedicated employees. 

Premium cigars are all natural, handcrafted products that are just like fine wines.  Just as the soil, sunlight, wind, and rain cause a grape grown in California to taste differently than the same grape grown in Oregon, the same is true of premium cigar tobacco.  As with wines, certain vintages or years are better than others.  And aging both wines and cigars enhances their taste.  Many winemakers blend different grapes to create unique tasting wines; we do the same with premium cigar tobacco.  We harness natural variation to make interesting blends for low-volume, limited edition cigars.  None of this is standardized, written down, or formulaic.  It is not a science.  It is an art, and the tradition has been passed down from generation to generation.

Premium cigars are just 3% of the cigar industry and just one half of one percent of the tobacco industry as a whole.  We are a tiny sliver of the tobacco world. 

We are deeply concerned that FDA is regulating our small industry out of business by treating our handcrafted, premium cigars like a scientific product and creating standards that are impossible for us to meet. 

In 2016, FDA adopted a “one size fits all” policy for tobacco and applied the massive and costly regulatory scheme developed for cigarettes to handcrafted, premium cigars.  This approach simply does not work for several reasons:

To create a new cigar, FDA requires it to be “substantially equivalent” to one sold in 12 years ago in 2007. This process is so exhaustive that it is expected to cost $250,000 for a single new cigar.  Moreover, the concept of “substantial equivalency” does not work because no two premium cigars are alike, and they change over time.  A cigar rolled in 2007 tastes different today than it did a decade ago.  

FDA is requiring that we redesign our packaging to apply massive new warning labels.

FDA is requiring us to test every type of cigar. Not only are there are no standards for testing premium cigars, but costs ($18,000 per size) are enormous.  This is particularly a problem since premium cigars are often made in small batches like craft beer.

We are paying thousands of dollars in user fees per day so that FDA can regulate us.

According to current estimates, it will cost approximately $30 million for our historic Tampa cigar factory to comply with FDA regulation.  This is why FDA estimated that regulation would force as much as 50% of the cigar industry out of business.

Unlike “Big Tobacco,” the premium cigar industry is made up almost entirely of small, family businesses like ours.  We sell our premium cigars to 3,000 specialty retailers across the country.  These are mom-and-pop, small family businesses with just a handful of employees.  Our boutique premium cigar industry simply cannot absorb these massive regulatory costs.

In 2009, Congress gave FDA authority to regulate tobacco products to address (a) youth usage and (b) addictiveness.  However, FDA’s own research has shown that (a) children do not smoke premium cigars and (b) the typical consumer smokes 1.7 premium cigars per month, a frequency that is not consistent with addiction.  Premium cigars are an old-world, handmade craft enjoyed by adults infrequently for relaxation and celebration. 

We respect FDA’s mission and the important work that it does to protect public health.  However, there is no scientific basis for FDA to regulate premium cigars.  

We are extremely grateful to Chairman Rubio and Congresswoman Castor for reintroducing bipartisan legislation to exempt premium cigars from FDA regulation.  The entire premium cigar industry, including the Cigar Association of America, Cigar Rights of America, and the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association, supports exemption.

Our one goal as a family business is to continue my great-grandfather’s legacy and hand roll premium cigars in America for another four generations and 124 years. 

Thank you very much.

You can also watch the full hearing on Facebook. Click here.


Rubio to Hold Small Business Field Hearing in Tampa

Rubio to Hold Small Business Field Hearing in Tampa

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, will convene a hearing titled, “Keeping Small, Premium Cigar Businesses Rolling” on Friday, April 5, 2019, at 1:00 PM. Directly following the hearing, Rubio will hold a brief media availability.

The hearing will look at the climate of overregulation of the premium cigar industry, an iconic staple to Florida’s economy. Earlier this year, Rubio re-introduced the Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2019, which seeks to exempt premium cigars from excessive and overly burdensome U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations and fees. Last year, Rubio spoke on the Senate floor on behalf of his amendment to save the premium cigar industry after leading a bipartisan letter to the FDA that urged an exemption of premium, hand-rolled cigars from these overreaching regulations, which threaten American premium cigar manufacturers and retailers, and could force this industry of mostly small businesses across the country to close. In 2016, Rubio visited Tampa’s J.C. Newman Cigar Company to meet with workers whose paychecks are being threatened by destructive regulations from Washington. In 2014, Senator Rubio penned an op-ed that called for “a halt to unnecessary federal regulations that threaten” this industry.

The hearing will be live-streamed on Senator Marco Rubio’s Facebook page.

Members of the media planning to attend must RSVP to RubioPressShop@rubio.senate.gov

Mr. Charles Maresca, Director of Interagency Affairs, Office of Advocacy, U.S. Small Business Administration

Dr. Brad Rodu, Endowed Chair, Tobacco Harm Reduction Research, University of Louisville

Mr. Jeff Borysiewicz, President and Founder, Corona Cigar Company and Florida Sun Grown, Florida’s only tobacco farm

Mr. Drew Newman, General Counsel and great-grandson of the Founder, J.C. Newman Cigar Company

Hearing Details:
Keeping Small, Premium Cigar Businesses Rolling
Friday, April 5, 2019
1:00 PM, EDT
Hillsborough Community College, Ybor City Campus
Performing Arts Building
2112 North 15th Street
Tampa, Florida
Note: Directly following the hearing Rubio will hold a brief media availability.

Cigars of Tally: Diamond Crown Lounge

Cigars of Tally: Diamond Crown Lounge

Cigars of Tally Diamond Crown Lounge Grand Opening

On April 4th of 2019, Cigars of Tally opened their second location in Tallahassee, Florida as a designated Diamond Crown Lounge! There’s so much you won’t want to miss – be sure you stop in soon!

Cigar Deals and Special Appearances

From 6 pm – 10 pm on April 4th the Cigars of Tally Diamond Crown Lounge hosted their grand opening party featuring a ton of great deals. Those who purchased any single cigar in the Diamond Crown Royal Family (Diamond Crown, MAXIMUS, Julius Caeser or Black Diamond) received a free Diamond Crown Julius Caeser 1895 cigar. This 1895 is a cigar only available to distinguished Diamond Crown lounges. 

Those who purchased any box in the Royal Family received a free, limited edition, Diamond Crown Double Belicoso Gift set and was entered for a chance to win a Diamond Crown Alexander 160 Count Humidor.

And if the cigars weren’t enough, 3rd Generation Owner and President Eric Newman was on premises, to meet, greet, answer questions and tell some stories about the J.C. Newman family legacy and the story of the Diamond Crown cigar.

The Diamond Crown Lounge Designation

Cigars of Tally has a reputation that proceeds itself. As a staple of the cigar industry in the state of Florida, we are honored to partner with them as they open their second location as a Diamond Crown lounge.

Diamond Crown lounges are places where cigar aficionados can meet up and enjoy an unparalleled selection of fine and exclusive premium cigars. This is a lounge you’ll want to visit time and time again for Diamond Crown events or to relax with other cigar lovers. Cigars of Tally Diamond Crown Lounge offers a wide bar selection to pair with your favorite smoke. The lounge also boasts a number of flat screen televisions, an outdoor smoking patio, and is well appointed with a beautiful humidor full of your favorite premium cigars.

Cigars of Tally Diamond Crown Lounge
Address: 926 Monroe St. Tallahassee, FL 32303
Phone: (850) 727-0085

Thank you to everyone who came out to join us last week! We appreciate your support. Be sure to stop in again soon.

You can see this lounge location and a list of all our Diamond Crown Lounges by clicking here.