Cigar factories have always been a staple in Ybor City.
And Tampa's last full scale cigar factory, Cigar City, remains in operation near Interstate 4.
The factory is owned and operated by J.C. Newman Cigar Company – a four-generation, family-owned small business. But the 104-year-old factory may be shut down to new Food and Drug Administration rulings.
Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera visited the factory Wednesday to speak with workers about what the state is doing to address the issue.
"This is a classic example of too much government," Lopez-Cantera said. "And government overstepping its bounds."
New FDA regulations would force J.C. Newman to submit to a 5,000-hour testing phase for new products and add regulatory fees. For a business that still uses machines from the 1930s to make cigars, the new way of business would be a death sentence.
"It would shut the factory because we couldn't afford to make cigars," said co-owner Bob Newman. "It would be a tragedy."
Shutting the factory would cost 130 employees their jobs.
Newman is hopeful the FDA will exempt the business from complying with the new regulations under the clause of being a high-end cigar company that makes and sells high end cigars.
Meanwhile, there is a petition circulating online, Save Cigar City, to save the factory.
The deadline for signing the petition is Aug. 8.