The AP reports on a troubling new trend:
The nation’s top distributor of clove cigarettes is offering fans a new way to get their fix after the spice-flavored cigarettes are banned at the end of this month—cigars.
The new filtered cigars—close to the size of a cigarette and flavored with clove, vanilla and cherry—allow Kretek International Inc., which imports Djarum-brand tobacco products from Indonesia, to avoid new federal laws banning flavored cigarettes other than menthol.
The ban on flavored cigarettes, which critics say appeal to teenagers, doesn’t include cigars.
The difference? Cigarettes are wrapped in thin paper, cigars in tobacco leaves. While the cigars also are made with a different kind of tobacco, the taste is similar. The cigars come 12 to a pack, rather than 20 for cigarettes, but cost nearly half as much.
Why is this troubling? Not because people will continue smoking killer cloves. Not even because cigar shops may now be filled with their powerful aroma. No, it’s troubling because it will attract the government’s attention to cigars:
Whether the cigars are truly different or just an attempt to circumvent the ban by making superficial changes is in the hands of the FDA, said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
“The key is the legislation gives the FDA the authority to respond to these types of frankly totally irresponsible actions,” Mr. Myers said.
Mr. Myers joined executives from the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and the Amercian Legacy Foundation late last month urging the FDA to take a closer look at the issue.
Regulation of cigars is currently fairly light, allowing for the development of new brands and competition among them. And as an essentially pure agricultural product — they’re just rolls of cured leaves — that’s the way things ought to be. If the FDA or Congress starts turning its attention to cigars there’s no telling what harm they could to the industry.
I wrote about the pseudoscientific absurdity of banning flavored tobacco here.