Tampa cigar culture could be changed by proposed regulations - WFLA News Channel 8

Tampa cigar culture could be changed by proposed regulations

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TAMPA, FL (WFLA) - The Tampa cigar culture as we know it could be headed for a change.

New proposed FDA regulations would seriously impact the way cigars are produced.

“Today we are the last operating cigar factory in the cigar city, but if these regulations go through as they are proposed we would be out of business, there is now way we could stay in business,” said Eric Newman, president of J.C. Newman Cigar Company.

The FDA proposed rules were released in late April. They are now in a comment period where they are taking public feedback about the changes.

The proposed regulations would regulate cigars like cigarettes are currently regulated. It would impact packaging all the way to approval of new products before they hit the market.

“We put out maybe 3 or 4 new products a year: maybe a new size of the cigar, a new shape, a new flavor, a new blend. Specifically in this brand new regulation they would say with a new product you would have to have your product tested for nicotine, chemicals, do a study, and do an analysis. In their words, it would take 5,000 hours of studies and testing in order to introduce a new product,” said Newman.

He said the process would eliminate their ability to introduce new cigars.

“New products are the life blood of business today,” said Newman.

The proposal has an exemption to the possible regulations: premium cigars. The proposed regulations would consider premium cigars, those that cost over $10.

News Channel 8 stopped at Nicahabana Cigar in Ybor City.

“Premium cigars for us that’s pretty much everything that we make here,” said worker Yuni Stuar.  Stuar tells us their premium cigars currently run from $4 to $6 but to avoid the regulations the prices could jump to $10 each.

Stuar said her customers would “probably just turn around and walk away” after seeing those prices.

Newman is launching a “Save Tampa’s last Cigar Factory” campaign. He wants everyone to comment on the FDA proposed regulations.

You can comment and read the regulations here.

“We just want to run our business for the last 120 years. Everybody has the ability to comment, there comments count as much as ours do,” said Newman.

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.

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