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Bobby Newman of JC Newman Talks Premium Cigar Exemption With Rush Limbaugh

On Friday, June 8, 2018, Bobby Newman, executive vice president and third-generation owner of J.C. Newman Cigar Company, appeared on the Rush Limbaugh Show.

Bobby described the devastating effect that FDA regulation is having on America’s historic premium cigar industry and his family’s 123-year-old cigar business to guest host Mark Steyn. He explained why premium cigars should be exempt from FDA regulation and urged the public to visit www.SaveCigarCity.com to submit comments to the FDA supporting an exemption.

During the segment, 144,000 people visited J.C. Newman’s www.SaveCigarCity.com website in order to submit comments to the FDA. With an audience of 14 million, The Rush Limbaugh Show has been the most-listened-to talk radio show in America for more than 30 years. Below is a transcript of the interview. The audio clip is attached.

Mark Steyn: Mark Steyn in for Rush. Let us go now to Bobby Newman, and Bobby is a third generation member of a cigar manufacturer in Ybor, Florida, J.C. Newman. If you’ve been in that part of Florida, you’ll know that that is cigar central, or it was cigar central. Since the late … I think around the late 19th century, it’s been a major cigar producing center in Florida-

Bobby Newman: Correct.

Mark Steyn: … until Obama’s FDA regulations came along. Bobby, it’s great to have you with us on the show.

Bobby Newman: Thank you.

Mark Steyn: You’re continuing the cigar tradition in Florida, to this day.

Bobby Newman: Absolutely. It’s our 123rd year, Mark. First I want to tell you thank you for having me on. We’re big Fox News fans. We see Tucker Carlson and Hannity almost nightly, and Rush Limbaugh is a cigar aficionado fan.

Bobby Newman: And you’re right, what’s happened, this is Obama’s first act that he passed. His first law was the Tobacco Control Act. It gave the FDA the authority to regulate cigarettes and then, as often happens, we became an unintended consequence of it because two years ago, in 2016, the FDA applied the same strict and incredibly costly regulations to premium cigars.

Bobby Newman: It’s crushing not only our company in Tampa, but our business partner, the Arturo Fuente folks. It’s crushing the entire premium cigar business. We have gorgeous, beautiful mahogany, cedar, or leather boxes, we have to put a 30% health warning, rotating health warning on it.

Mark Steyn: Right.

Bobby Newman: We’re all paying … If this is a government for the people, by the people, of the people, not screw the people, and thank God for the Trump administration because the FDA, they’ve announced that, a couple of weeks ago, that they’re reconsidering the regulation. They want to hear from cigar consumers and the fastest way to do this and put comments is if you go to www SaveCigarCity.com and it will take … most of the people may not be smoking cigars who are listening to you now, Mark, but they all want to follow the Trump model of lessening regulations-

Mark Steyn: Right.

Bobby Newman: … which has been a back breaker, and so.

Mark Steyn: This is a classic example of an Obama era overreach by the regulatory state, that Trump actually should be able to roll back and reverse. But you’re saying that the FDA is considering it now, and so-

Bobby Newman: Right.

Mark Steyn: … whether or not people are actually cigar smokers, but if they’re actually just interested in the freedom to make those choices themselves, they should let the FDA know that this regulation should be reconsidered and rolled back.

Bobby Newman: Absolutely. The FDA did research in the last couple of years, they didn’t tell anybody, we had to find it, but there’s research, it proves that children do not smoke premium cigars.

Mark Steyn: No.

Bobby Newman: Premium cigars are smoked very infrequently. The average cigar smoker, smoking a premium cigar, smokes like 1.7 a month.

Mark Steyn: Right.

Bobby Newman: This is from the CDC and the Center for … arguably the most prestigious medical journal, it’s from the New England Medical-

Mark Steyn: Yeah.

Bobby Newman: … New England Medical Journal and they said premium cigars, they’re distinct from other tobacco products, and also … and the CDC just came out with the things, smoking premium cigars does not significantly increase mortality. Again, you’re right, President Trump, he campaigned on eliminating these crazy regulations, where the costs outweigh the benefits, and by going to SaveCigarCity.com, it covers all of the premium cigar industry-

Mark Steyn: Right.

Bobby Newman: … and tell the FDA Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, please do not regulate premium cigars.

Mark Steyn: And most of your employees, who’d be put out of work if this regulation isn’t rolled back, most of them are women, aren’t they?
Bobby Newman: Yes, they are, 95% women. We have 135 people in our factory in Tampa-

Mark Steyn: Right.

Bobby Newman: … and if we don’t get this changed, we’ll have to close the factory, which is-

Mark Steyn: No, no, I know, and those … That’s an important industry, and whether or not those women can find equally satisfying work, but that’s always been … it’s always been women who work in cigar factories. Even in the days before women entered the workforce, it was women who worked in cigar factories.

Bobby Newman: Right.

Mark Steyn: It’s like one of the professions they’ve always been the backbone of. Well, Bobby … Yeah, carry on.

Bobby Newman: No, and Mark, the thing is, the average team mate or employee has been here 27 years, or the average age is over 50, so where is a man or woman going to get a job anywhere in the United States, 55 or 60 years old, or 52? And so.

Mark Steyn: No, no. You’re right, that’s … No, no, that’s extremely important too. I mean, this is real world consequences of, as you say, there’s no medical justification for this, as the CDC says. It’s not something … It’s not like all the other stuff, where people are … Nobody’s sitting around doing, you know, 30, 40, 60 premium cigars a day. There are no health consequences. It’s a regulatory overreach and it’s the perfect thing for President Trump to roll back, Bobby. And just say, you’re with J.C. Newman, you’re third generation member of the Newman family-

Bobby Newman: That is correct.

Mark Steyn: … and your website is, I think, JCNewmanOnline, but this is another … this is SaveCigarCity.com you’ve started?

Bobby Newman: Correct. We set this up so people … It will take your listeners less than 30 seconds. You go to SaveCigarCity.com, you go to it, it’ll take you right to … it’ll take you, show you where … the comments.

Mark Steyn: Okay, so they can go to SaveCigarCity.com. Thanks very much for letting us know, Bobby. These are real world consequences to the posturing and posing of the regulatory state. If you’re a government bureaucrat … and by the way, that’s really harmful to everybody’s health … you can afford to do this kind of stuff without thinking about the real world people it impacts. And as Bobby says, he has a mainly female workforce, in their 50s, and that’s no age to start your midlife career change. So this is something that would be perfect for President Trump to do, as part of his regulatory rollback.