Are there laws regulating cigars?
Cigars have fewer federal regulations than cigarettes and oral tobacco products. This, as well as the lower taxes (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 the following 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.
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.
What you can do
The best thing you can do is never smoke a cigar or use any other form of tobacco. It’s also important to avoid all forms of tobacco smoke. Keep your home smoke-free, especially if you have children.
If you want to learn more about the dangers of tobacco smoke, or want to learn more about quitting smoking, please see our Guide to Quitting Smoking. You can also call us at 1-800-227-2345 for information and support.
Last Medical Review: 11/08/2012
Last Revised: 01/17/2013