Cigar Smoking

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Are there laws regulating cigars?

Cigars have fewer federal regulations than cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products. This, as well as the lower taxes (so they cost less), is a key part of their increasing popularity.

Warnings of proven health risks, much like those required for cigarettes, were added to most cigar ads and packages as of a June 2000. The labels on cigars made by the 7 largest US companies must carry one of these 5 Surgeon General warnings, on a rotating basis:

  • Cigar smoking can cause cancers of the mouth and throat, even if you do not inhale.
  • Cigar smoking can cause lung cancer and heart disease.
  • Tobacco use increases the risk of infertility, stillbirth, and low birth-weight.
  • Cigars are not a safe alternative to cigarettes.
  • Tobacco smoke increases the risk of lung cancer and heart disease, even in non-smokers.

At this time, cigars are exempt from federal tobacco regulations that limit advertising and restrict underage children from buying cigars. But all 50 states and the District of Columbia have laws that either clearly address children and teens’ access to cigars or forbid underage children from buying any tobacco products.

Despite the laws that forbid underage children from buying them, cigars are easy to get. A study done in the year 2000 found more than 140 Internet sites that sold cigars, with almost 1 in 3 having possible youth appeal. Only about 1 out of 4 of these sites clearly banned sales to minors. On about 1 out of 3 sites, cigars could be bought with money orders, cashier’s checks, or cash-on-delivery (COD) − options that make it hard to check the age of the buyer. The federal law called the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act of 2009 (PACT) sought to ban illegal online sales of cigarette and smokeless tobacco, but specifically exempted cigar sales from its requirements. Again, cigars have less restrictive rules and may be easier to buy online than other forms of tobacco.

Since the mid-1960s, the Federal Trade Commission has overseen a testing program to report the amount of tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide for most brands of cigarettes. But cigars are not required to go through these tests, and makers of cigars do not have to report such levels to any federal agency.

Last Medical Review: 02/19/2014
Last Revised: 02/19/2014