Trade Group: Cigar Flavor Ban Harmful

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    Banning flavored cigars would do more harm than good, according to David Ozgo, president of the Cigar Association of America, reports The Center Square.

    “The economic impact is one thing, but just as important is the fact that what you’re doing is taking away an adult’s right to choose,” Ozgo said. “When President [Barack] Obama passed legislation in 2009 regulating tobacco, he stressed the idea was not to take away an adult’s right to use tobacco if that’s what they choose.”

    In 2021, flavored cigars made up 47 percent of the market, so banning them would have a huge economic impact, according to Ozgo. He projects losses of about $4 billion in retail sales, 16,000 jobs, $840 million in wages and an estimated $750 million in federal, state and local tax revenue.

    “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 in a statement on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website. “Additionally, the proposed rules represent an important step to advance health equity by significantly reducing tobacco-related health disparities.”

    Ozgo countered that it’s already illegal for a person under 21 to purchase tobacco. Government data shows less than 1 percent of youth use flavored cigars, he noted.

    “This is a solution in search of a problem,” Ozgo said. “When you look at indicators of nicotine addiction, they’re not the same as, say, cigarettes. Really, people smoke cigars for different reasons. With cigars, it’s just something you do to relax and enjoy. We always say cigars are more of a hobby than a habit; you don’t even smoke one every day.”