Warning labels and tobacco products aren’t anything new. Cigarettes have had a series of warning labels for some time, from plain surgeon general messages to more graphic imagery that’s attempted to convince smokers that perhaps that enjoyable kickback they’re getting from that cigarette is going to come with a health price. After this week’s news that premium cigars are now subject to deeming regulations that will make it more of a challenge to get new products, and those sold prior to 2007, on the market, we’re starting to get an idea of what’s ahead for the industry.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) new regulatory rules means you’ll start seeing warning labels on packaging and even advertisements. Again, this is nothing new, but it was never enforced until these new regulations were announced. Warning labels will be common on cigar products by August 2018. We’re already starting to see them in some advertisements but they’ve been less visible on packaging. Cigar enthusiasts are well aware of the time and effort put into the artwork of some of the bigger brands.
The FDA is being very clear and strict on the warning labels products and advertisements will have to carry. Advertisers, at least those who still have any products and budgets left to put cigars out, must rotate through one of six warnings quarterly and just to keep you guessing as to what dangers lie ahead for you. They are:
– SURGEON GENERAL WARNING: Tobacco use increases the risk of infertility, stillbirth and low birth weight
– WARNING: Cigar use while pregnant can harm you and your baby
– WARNING: Cigar smoking can cause lung cancer and heart disease
– WARNING: Tobacco smoke increases the risk of lung canger and heart disease, even in nonsmokers
– WARNING: Cigar smoking can cause cancers of the mouth and throat, even if you do not inhale
– WARNING: Cigars are not a safe alternative to cigarettes
– WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical
If you’re a cigar smoker, you’re likely reading these warnings and either rolling your eyes or screaming, “But that’s not even true!” Regardless, this is all part of the changes that will sweep the industry thanks to government involvement (or should we say government intrusion?). For cigar packages, these warning labels will have to be on a white background with black text and will take up 30 percent of the display area, something manufacturers will have to now take into consideration when creating the usual very elaborate artwork that adorns their packages and boxes. What about single cigars sold in many stores? Surely they will be exempt from these warnings. Not quite.
While these cigars obviously can’t be wrapped in a warning, the government is expecting the retailers to decorate their stores with not one but all six required warning statements posted near the products being sold. Can they at least be small and out of the way? Nope, they need to be 8 1/2 x 11 inches, white in color with a black background and posted 3 inches of each cash register just to make sure you, the consumer, get the message because obviously you’re going to be the on the fence and easy to deter from buying that lucky, lonely cigar that’s able to be sold after all these regulations. We do hope you detect the underlining sarcasm and can picture our eyes rolling at just how effective these initiatives are going to be.
We know what you’re saying – fight the system, the warning labels won’t stop anyone from smoking cigars. Well, the government obviously knows that and has outlined a plan of action for those who try to circumvent the system. Those who don’t go through the complicated system of implementing these warning labels will receive a wonderful gift package from the FDA that includes warning letters, monetary penalties, seizure of products or legal action.
As we encouraged yesterday, get involved more in the cigar community and the new fight that’s being waged to protect the cigars you enjoy and the lifestyle surrounding it. For retailers and suppliers, joining the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailer Association is enouraged (ipcpr.org). For consumers, the lobbying organization Cigars Rights of America (cigarrights.org) is a great group to get involved with. Stay tuned to Cigars & Leisure for ongoing coverage of the latest developments on the regulation front as well as the usual coverage of the latest news from the cigar industry, travel, mixology and spirits.