AG Bondi: FDA Going ‘Overboard’ On Cigar Rules

August 15, 2014

Attorney General Pam Bondi labeled as “overbroad” the federal government’s proposed regulations to link electronic cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products to the same rules as the cigarette industry.

Bondi wrote in a letter that she wants the Food and Drug Administration to consider the potential impact of the announced rule changes on Ybor City cigar manufacturer J.C. Newman Cigar, urging the federal agency to “more narrowly tailor these overbroad regulations.”

The FDA is looking to discourage the use of electronic cigarettes and tobacco products among minors by expanding rules now in place on the sales and advertising of cigarettes.

J.C. Newman is the lone survivor of a cigar industry that first came to Tampa in the 1890s.

“This 119-year-old premium cigar company with 130 employees is truly unique in this industry and should not be regulated in the same manner as the nation’s largest cigarette companies,” Bondi wrote on Friday, the deadline for submissions on the federal plan.

Bondi’s letter was separate from a letter signed the same day by 29 other attorneys general that implored the FDA to make the proposed regulations even stronger, particularly in regard to electronic cigarettes.

The e-cigarette devices are seen by some as more acceptable than smoking, with the process involving a vaporizer to inhale nicotine that is often enhanced with flavors that range from simple vanilla, grape and banana to more alluring cotton candy, peach schnapps, pina colada and bubblegum.

“The FDA has recognized that flavored tobacco products containing flavors like vanilla, orange, chocolate, cherry and coffee are especially attractive to youth and are widely considered to be starter products, establishing smoking habits that can lead to a lifetime of addiction,” the group of attorneys general said in the letter.

The group of attorneys general includes 21 Democrats, seven Republicans and one without party affiliation. The effort was led by Eric Schneiderman of New York, Martha Coakley of Massachusetts, Lisa Madigan of Illinois and Greg Zoeller of Indiana.

Regulators have agonized over whether e-cigarettes are a step in helping people quit smoking or serve as a gateway to nicotine addiction.

But the attorneys general said, in their letter, e-cigarettes are exposing an increasing number of youths to nicotine.

Bondi, in her letter, generally supports the enforcement of federal regulations on e-cigarettes, which would be similar to a Florida law approved in the 2014 legislative session.

The measure (SB 224) made it a second-degree misdemeanor as of July 1 to sell e-cigarettes and related products to minors.

Jennifer Haliski, a spokeswoman for the FDA, said Wednesday that letters submitted on the proposed rule change will be reviewed as quickly as possible. However, no timetable is set for when a final decision will be made, she said.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., have requested an exemption to the new rules for companies that don’t mass-produce cigars, such as J. C. Newman. The FDA is already considering an exemption for premium cigars that are handmade. J.C. Newman uses vintage machines.

Gov. Rick Scott and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera last month sent a similar request about the impact of the proposed regulations on Florida cigar companies.

by Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida


6 Responses to “AG Bondi: FDA Going ‘Overboard’ On Cigar Rules”

  1. Not Naive on August 16th, 2014 7:59 am

    I’ve said for years that cigarettes and alcohol are the “real” gateway drugs to the use of harder drugs like meth, heroin, prescription meds, etc….

    Yet the lobbyist/politicians for years have convinced the public that marijuana was the “guilty party” so they could continue to pedal their poison guilt free.

  2. Ponch on August 16th, 2014 2:34 am

    “The FDA has recognized that flavored tobacco products containing flavors like vanilla, orange, chocolate, cherry and coffee are especially attractive to youth and are widely considered to be starter products, establishing smoking habits that can lead to a lifetime of addiction.”

    Yet, it’s perfectly okay that you can purchase nearly all of the same “youth targeted flavors” of vodka? Sure, tha’ts ok, because certainly no youths are ever targeted by the alcohol industry, huh? It’s perfectly ok and FDA approved.

    The hypocrosy in this is outrageous. Why not just ban EVERYTHING unless you get approval or an “exemption” based on your state officials’ bank accounts. This is absolutely ridiculous!!!

  3. David Huie Green on August 15th, 2014 5:49 pm

    I believe selling substances with the drug nicotine to minors should only be done with a doctor’s authorization if at all.

    That way, minors would have to go through intermediaries to break the law,
    just like previous generations.

    As best I can tell, the vapor delivery systems only deliver a noticeable amount of the drug to the user and are safe for those not using them — no stink, no tar, no carbon monoxide, no fire, no burnt clothes or houses or skin.
    Only rare and localized explosions.

    If they don’t actually affect other adults or children, their use is none of our business

    If, on the other hand, they are bound and determined to outlaw the advertising of the devices, they should be sure to outlaw advertising of nicotine patches as well. Fair is fair, and unfair should be equally unfair, it’s only fair.

    David for protecting children
    and a proper place for busybodies

  4. me on August 15th, 2014 11:16 am


    I did not smoke as a kid but once I was old enough to buy them I did and now I smoke 20 years later. You can keep all the stuff away from minors but one day they will make their choices and do it anyways. Stop making things so complicated and stop trying to CONTROL us. I really wish I had the funds to leave the USA and go live elsewhere because this place is getting absolutely ridiculous!!

  5. Herschell Spears on August 15th, 2014 7:45 am

    Her goes another useless rule by our government. I think if they keep making rules we will have to get ok to eat breakfast and what items we can eat. These electroinic cigeretts and cigars were made to get rid of thdangerous parts of smoking. No matter what rules they make they can not get rid of tobacco use. The can’t get rid of drugs with millions spent. Leave us alone !!

  6. Bob C on August 15th, 2014 7:34 am

    I’m a life-time NON-smoker and do not advocate the use of tobacco in any form.

    That said, we did visit Ybor City several years ago and took a tour of a cigar factory that was in operation. Watching the elderly gentlemen roll and wrap the tobacco leaves and set the finished cigars into wooden trays was a real experience.
    We liked the skill and the care the men showed as they did the same thing time and time again.

    As a historical form of an industry that helped form and create the Tampa area of Florida it is my feeling the cigar industry where there are a limited number of cigars turned out should be left alone. A.G. Bondi, you have my support on this.

    “Overboard”, in my opinion, is where many of the latest federal regulations should go along with some of the legislators.

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