By RICHIE MALOUF
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is proposing a ban on all characterizing flavors in cigars in what they say is an attempt to reduce younger smokers from trying tobacco, but others say adults should have the freedom of choice.
According to an FDA press release, the proposed ban on “all characterizing flavors (other than tobacco) in cigars” would attempt to reduce “youth experimentation and addiction.”
“The proposed rules would help prevent children from becoming the next generation of smokers and help adult smokers quit,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said.
Critics of the proposed ban say individuals should have the freedom to decide what they can and cannot buy, not the government.
“The choice of which legal products adult consumers have a right to enjoy should be left entirely to adult consumers,” said David Ozgo, president of the Cigar Association of America (CAA).
The CAA has launched an online portal allowing cigar consumers to voice their opinions on the FDA’s proposal. They argue that the public should have more say in what does and what doesn’t get banned.
“It is unfortunate that in public policy debates, the average adult consumer is often given little say in the matter. We developed this portal to give adult consumers a voice on this important issue,” Mr. Ozgo said.
According to the American Lung Association, “flavored cigars made up more than half (52.1 percent) of the U.S. cigar market in 2015.” Due to their large market share, critics say banning flavored cigars would raise the price of both cheap and expensive cigars alike.
The FDA defends its proposed ban saying that flavored cigars make smoking more appealing to young adults.
“Characterizing flavors in cigars, such as strawberry, grape, cocoa and fruit punch, increase appeal and make cigars easier to use, particularly among youth and young adults.”
But opponents of the proposal say not enough young adults smoke flavored cigars for the ban actually to work as the FDA claims.
“Flavored cigar youth usage rates are currently at historic lows, less than 1% in one recent government survey,” Mr. Ozgo said. “Banning characterizing flavors in cigars, therefore, will do little beyond denying adult consumers the right to purchase a legal product.”