New Study, For the First Time, Details What Types of Cigars Americans Smoke

Data Highlights Why Obama Administration Should Not Exempt Any Cigars from Basic FDA Oversight

Washington, D.C. (July 31, 2014)

A new study released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the first time breaks down the types of cigars smoked by adults in the U.S. and highlights why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must have basic oversight authority over all cigars.

Data from the 2012-2013 National Adult Tobacco Survey found that among adult cigar smokers who provided information about the type of cigar usually smoked, 62 percent primarily smoked "cigarillos & other mass market cigars," 18 percent smoked little filtered cigars and 20 percent smoked "premium" cigars.

"Cigars that cause death and disease—especially those used by one out of five adult Americans—should not be given a special exemption from basic FDA oversight," said Harold P. Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association. "That's why the American Lung Association is calling on the Obama Administration and FDA to ensure FDA has basic oversight authority over all tobacco products."

On April 24, 2014, FDA released its long-awaited proposed "deeming" regulation, which would give the agency basic oversight authority over all presently unregulated tobacco products, including some cigars, e-cigarettes, hookah, little cigars, pipe tobacco and others. FDA initially proposed basic oversight over all cigars but the White House inserted a proposed exemption for certain "premium" cigars. Basic oversight provisions would require manufacturers to register with FDA; disclose their products' ingredients to the agency; and would prohibit tobacco companies from making health claims without FDA review. The proposed regulation would also establish 18 as the nationwide minimum age for the legal purchase of tobacco products. "Basic FDA oversight over all tobacco products is long overdue," added Wimmer.

The study also found that close to 60 percent of current cigar smokers either smoke or have smoked cigarettes. Cigarette users who also smoke cigars are at higher risk for developing tobacco-related diseases because they tend to inhale cigar smoke more deeply.

Formal written comments on the proposed deeming regulation are due to the FDA by August 8. The American Lung Association will file comments urging FDA to finalize the regulation by the end of 2014 and to ensure that it applies to all tobacco products, including cigars.

Another study released in the August edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine examined results from the 2011 and 2012 National Youth Tobacco Survey and found a "high burden" of cigar use among youth, particularly among black students. Black high school students who had ever smoked a cigar significantly increased from 2011 (24.4%) to 2012 (39.4%).

In August 2012, CDC released a series of studies showing a rapid increase in use of cigars, including large cigars. CDC found that while cigarette use declined 33 percent from 2000-2011, the use of large cigars increased 233 percent. Additional CDC studies showed that current rates of cigar and smokeless tobacco use—particularly among high school boys—nearly match the rates of cigarette smoking, and that current cigar use among black high school students more than doubled from 7.1 percent in 2009 to 16.7 percent in 2012.

In January, which marked the 50th anniversary of the landmark 1964 Surgeon General's Report, the American Lung Association and our public health and medical partners called for bold action by all levels of government to achieve three bold goals:

  • Reduce smoking rates, currently at about 18 percent, to less than 10 percent within 10 years;
  • Protect all Americans from secondhand smoke within five years; and
  • Ultimately eliminate the death and disease caused by tobacco use.

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About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases.  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-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: www.Lung.org.