Tampa’s largest and oldest remaining cigar factory has covered its famous sign and belltower for a cause.
J.C. Newman Cigar Co. has relaunched its “Save Cigar City” campaign alongside local Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., in an effort to try to drum up support against cigar regulation by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). It coincides with an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) from FDA regarding whether the agency should reevaluate how it regulates premium cigars.
The company launched a similar four years ago when FDA was seeking public comment on the deeming regulations.
“For four-generations and 123 years, our family has been rolling premium cigars that are enjoyed by adults,” said Eric Newman, president of J.C. Newman Cigar Co, in a press release. “All we are asking is for the government to allow us to continue our family tradition by relieving us of the burden of being regulated like cigarettes.”
J.C. Newman’s El Reloj factory was built in 1910 at a time when there were over 100 large factories in Tampa, hence the Cigar City nickname. Since then, every other Tampa cigar factory has closed with Newman being the lone exception outside of a handful of shops who employ cigar rollers.
While the company has a tiny premium handmade operation, most of the cigars at the factory are made using antique machines in conjunction with the 135 workers at the factory. As such, J.C. Newman’s Tampa operation is unique in more ways than one. It serves as one of the few direct examples of American jobs that could be lost due to aggressive cigar regulations. The company also operates J.C. Newman PENSA, the second largest factory in Nicaragua.
The company is asking people to visit savecigarcity.com to learn more and comment as part of the ANPRM, which closes on June 25.