American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following statement today on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) request for information on premium cigars:
“As an agency charged with protecting public health, the FDA is sending mixed messages on tobacco regulation with this latest request.
In the last couple of weeks, the FDA took promising first steps to reduce the amount of nicotine in cigarettes and regulate flavored tobacco products. But this plea for more information on premium cigars raises a red flag that the agency is considering exempting some tobacco products from regulation.
In its tobacco deeming rule, the agency points to definitive research that all cigar products, including premium versions, can pose serious health risks. If the FDA removes these products from their oversight, that action would stand in stark contrast to a concern they expressed in 2016 that these products should be regulated. It would also send a message that premium cigars are somehow safe and not harmful.
Cigar smoking is popular among youth and young adults, and studies show that many smoke premium cigars. Exempting these products will undermine public health efforts to reduce youth smoking and potentially motivate more youth to try them. It will also create an incentive for manufacturers to manipulate their products, so they’d qualify as “premium” cigars or seek other exemptions. We know all too well that the tobacco industry will exploit every opportunity to evade regulation and to continue to market and sell their deadly products.
The association strongly disagrees with the FDA’s decision to reexamine premium cigars, especially if it ultimately leads to an exemption. No new research has been issued since the deeming rule that warrants another look at these products or a different decision on their regulatory standing.”