One of the state’s largest business lobbies is calling for lawmakers to add a Miami cigarette maker to Florida’s 1997 settlement with the tobacco industry. The settlement included the major manufacturers at the time, cigarette makers that together had more than 90 percent of the market share. But for the last several years, there’s been a legislative effort to add “non-participating manufacturers,” to those that must pay the state, including Miami-based Dosal. The push for those companies to be added has been a result in part of the state’s search for additional money, and in part of a push from the companies that did settle, which argue the current situation puts them at a competitive disadvantage. Associated Industries of Florida on Monday took the side of those companies already paying – saying that the non-settling manufacturers should be required to pay, calling their omission a “glaring loophole” that allows the non-settling companies to sell cheaper smokes. “It’s time for our Legislature to derail Dosal’s tobacco gravy train,” said AIF President Barney Bishop II. “Florida smokers should not avoid paying important dollars for health care based solely on the brand they choose to smoke.” Dosal has successfully fought the effort to require it to pay in recent years, and will fight any such effort this year. “This is nothing more than a market share grab-shell game by big tobacco, all in the name of a tax increase on a Florida business,” said Dosal spokeswoman Sarah Bascom. “There is no loophole, there never has been. Another year, another spin and another tax increase pushed by big tobacco.”
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