Lautenberg Calls For Ban On Flavored Cigars

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Sen. Frank Lautenberg

NEWARK—U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg reiterated his call for a ban on flavored cigars, which he says are surging in popularity among children and young adults.

The 2011 National Youth Tobacco Survey, released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reports that cigar smoking remains popular among high school students, even as overall tobacco use has declined. Among African-American high school students, cigar smoking increased from 7.1 percent to 11.7 percent from 2009 to 2011. Another recent report from the CDC found that large cigar use in the country was up an astonishing 233 percent from 2000 to 2011.

“Flavored cigars are designed to attract young adults, and the new CDC report indicates Big Tobacco is succeeding in its mission,” said Lautenberg. “The federal government must use its full authority over the tobacco industry and ban flavored cigars before the next generation of tobacco users are hooked. The increase in cigar use is troubling, and we must continue to do everything we can to keep our kids healthy and safe.”

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 banned flavored cigarettes, however, some companies are avoiding the ban by marketing their products as flavored cigars, which are not prohibited by law. Senators Lautenberg, Dick Durbin (D-IL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) have called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to use its regulatory authority over tobacco products—including cigars—to issue regulations banning flavored cigars.

According to the CDC, of the 13 million Americans who smoke cigars, an estimated 1.9 million are high school students and 412,000 are middle school students.

The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR) and the Cigar Rights of America are supporting legislation that would protect “premium” cigars from FDA regulation.

“The simple fact remains that premium cigars are enjoyed by adults, not marketed to nor affordable by underaged youth, and are simply celebratory in nature – not addictive. The typical premium cigar smoker may smoke 1-2 cigars a week, or even less,” said Bill Spann, CEO of the IPCPR. “We must continue educate the FDA and our legislators on the cigar industry and its importance. There are 85,000 American jobs at stake in this storied industry. In the current economy, our representative government should be doing everything in its power to protect jobs, not regulate them out of existence.”

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