Rubio and Members of Committee on Appropriations Debate Premium Cigars


“There is no appropriate public health justification to exclude premium cigars from the same regulation as cigarettes,” said Durbin. “The FDA found claims about reduce harm and lower threat to youth, and I’m quoting here, ‘unpersuasive’. That’s why we’ve received notification from 40 different health groups, including many cancer groups, about how bad it would be to ignore the FDA decision. I know when you think about premium cigars you think about thick steaks, Tuscan wine, silk shirts, pinky rings … well let me tell you what it’s all about. The health groups that warned us about these amendments say they have written a definition of so-called premium cigars specifically exempting FDA oversight from machine-made cigars, including those that cost as little as a buck.”

Durbin continued on with reporting of stats and figures that both Rubio and Manchin questioned the validity of.

“Each day in America around 2,100 kids start smoking cigars for the first time,” Durbin reported. “The National Institute of Health found that there’s a 26 percent increase in large cigar use by 8th graders between 2014 and 2015. 1.4 million teenagers smoke cigars in the United States–the same number that smokes cigarettes–so this definition of premium cigars is not as it has been portrayed. It is a danger to the public health, we ought to stand up to any opposition to remove the regulation of premium cigars like we did for cigarettes. It is time we get serious about the kids addiction to cigars and cigarettes.”

The exchange ended with Rubio reiterating that handmade cigars are not cheap and take 1-1.5 hours to smoke and are not marketed to young people, especially at their high price point. He ended by repeating that there was a need for language in legislation tailored to the handmade cigars and how this industry in particular was unique and important.

You can listen to the full audio of the Committee on Appropriations meeting here. The exchange about premium cigars begins at the 1:30:49 mark and ends at the 1:39:38 mark.