Tobacco products come in kid-friendly flavors, such as Black and Mild’s apple, cherry, wine, cream, soft & sweet vanilla and soft cherry vanilla, and Altadis USA’s Phillie Blunt cigars in chocolate, grape, berry, strawberry, sour apple, peach, honey, greene de menthe and cinnamon. Approximately 90 percent of existing adult smokers started by the time they turned eighteen years old. Flavored cigars already boast a strong influence among local children. Out of more than 1,500 Baltimore teens interviewed by high school students working with the Community Law in Action program, 35 percent of boys and 25 percent of girls reported trying flavored cigars.
Congress passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act in June 2009 in part due to a recognition that flavored cigars entice youths to smoke. The new law both bans the sale of flavored cigarettes and gives the FDA the authority to prohibit or regulate other flavored tobacco products, like cigars and smokeless tobacco. The FDA took vigorous action on the flavored cigarette provision and other provisions of the Act, generating anticipation that the agency will promulgate a ban or regulation on the sale of flavored cigars in the near future.
State and local officials can prevent Maryland’s youths from gaining access to these addictive, enticing products in the meantime. In particular, policymakers and local health officials can prevent a generation of children from developing lifetime smoking habits by supporting a flavored cigar ban in Maryland such as one of the bills or ordinances previously introduced (see chart below).
|Jurisdiction||Purpose||Disposition||Full Text/Additional Information|
|Maryland SB 973||Prohibits the sale of flavored cigars but exempts menthol flavoring; assesses a $500 fine and misdemeanor charge||Failed in Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee||Bill Information|
|Maine||Prohibits the sale of flavored cigars except premium flavored cigars (those weighing more than 3 pounds per 1,000); assesses a fine of up to $1,000||Effective||Bill Information|
|New York City||Prohibits the sale of flavored tobacco products except at tobacco bars; assesses civil fines of varying amounts||Effective but subject to ongoing litigation||Statute|
Although no legislation has passed in Maryland to date, Maine and the City of New York have succeeded in banning flavored cigars. New York City began enforcing its ordinance in August 2010 despite a lawsuit filed by tobacco manufacturers in December 2009. The Plaintiffs sought to enjoin the City from enforcing its ordinance, claiming that: (1) the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act preempted the local law; and (2) the ordinance is invalid under the Commerce Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In March 2010, Judge McMahon of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York denied Plaintiffs’ motion for the preliminary injunction. Further activity is expected in January 2011.
This website will provide continual updates on the status of lawsuits related to flavored cigar regulations.