New CDC Study Reveals Increase in Cigar Use

Study Comes As Cigar Industry Seeks Total Exemption from FDA Oversight

Washington, DC (August 2, 2012)

The American Lung Association is deeply troubled by the findings in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), “Consumption of Cigarettes and Combustible Tobacco, 2000-2011,” released today. The study shows that while cigarette use has declined 33 percent since 2000, the use of large cigars has increased 233 percent over this period.

This study comes at a time when the cigar industry is seeking to exempt many large cigars from any oversight from the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA)’s Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Pending legislation in the U.S. Senate (S.1461) and the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 1639) would exempt many cigars, including candy-flavored and other cigars that are most popular among youth, from any FDA oversight. This legislation would prohibit FDA from requiring warning labels on cigars, would not require cigars to be put behind the counters away from kids, and would not require cigar manufacturers to take out candy-flavors that are appealing to youth smokers.

As the study states, “smoke from pipes and cigars contains the same toxic chemicals as cigarettes.” Cigars contain tobacco and cause death and disease. Cigar smoke is not safe. The U.S. Surgeon General and the National Cancer Institute have confirmed that cigar smoking is not safe and can cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancers of the oral cavity, larynx, esophagus and lung, as well as heart disease. Cigar smoking is not limited to adults: each day, almost 3,000 youth under 18 smoke a cigar for the first time and 15 percent of all high school boys are current cigar users.

The American Lung Association and its health partners have called on Congress to reject the cigar industry’s efforts to diminish FDA’s authority over cigars, and defend commonsense oversight to protect public health. The groups have urged Congress to strongly oppose any efforts to weaken FDA’s science-based authority over tobacco products, particularly for cigars, and sent letters to the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate urging the rejection of a sweetheart deal for cigars.

The Lung Association is also calling on Congress to equalize tobacco tax rates for all tobacco products. This would prevent people from switching to cheaper, but still harmful, tobacco products and would thus help reduce overall tobacco use. Earlier this year, the Government Accountability Office released a study that found unequal tax rates among all tobacco products has led to “significant market shifts” as tobacco users switch to lower-priced products instead of quitting.

In 2009, a bipartisan Congress approved the Tobacco Control Act to protect the American public from the dangers of tobacco use. The law gave FDA immediate authority over cigarettes, smokeless and roll-your-own tobacco and allows the agency to deem authority over all other tobacco products, including cigars. The American Lung Association has urged FDA to move forward with this process.

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About the American Lung Association
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.lung.org.