FDA Requires Cigar Warning Labels

Cigar Intel Readers–There is so much cigar legislation going on right now that for the next few weeks, we are releasing two posts a week and each Tuesday will be Legislative Alert Day! Yes, you can look forward to having a WTFO day each Tuesday as we report on some crazy aspect of cigar legislation that will generally break your heart. Yes, free will and choice is a thing of the past for cigar enthusiasts, manufacturers, and retailers. Our Legislative Alert for this week focuses on cigar warning labels.

In the 499 page document the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), or as we now call them, the FUFDA released with their final ruling on cigar regulation, including regulation related to cigar warning labels. In short, the work of art that we know as the humble cigar box will soon be covered with cigar warning labels. Also, all cigar advertisements will require warning labels as well.

Per the FUFDA, “health warnings are required to appear on at least 30 percent of each of the two principal display panels of the package and on at least 20 percent of the area of the print advertisements and other advertisements with a visual component.” . . .  the font used for warnings on packaging and advertisements must be at least 12-point font size in order to be clear and legible. We note that the warning also must occupy ‘the greatest possible portion of the warning area set aside for the required text.’ Therefore, a print advertisement would require a much larger font size in order to comply with this requirement.”

The FDA provided the following additional direction, “For packages, the six warnings for cigars (five specifically for cigars and the one addictiveness warning) will be required to be randomly displayed in each 12-month period, in as equal a number of times as is possible on each brand of cigar sold in product packaging and randomly distributed in all areas of the United States. This random display and distribution must be done in accordance with a warning plan submitted to, and approved by, FDA. For advertisements, the warnings must be rotated quarterly in alternating sequence in each advertisement for each brand of cigar in accordance with a warning plan submitted to, and approved by, FDA. Warning plans must be submitted for FDA review and approval by responsible manufacturers, distributors, importers, and retailers. . .”

A couple of observations on this. First, all manufacturers, distributors, importers, and yes, even retailers must submit a warning plan to the FUFDA. This will be no easy task but it seem ludicrous to require retailers to comply. Perhaps Smokey Butts and I should start a company that creates a warning plan for retailers and charge $5,000 to do this. I am trying to imagine a small cigar shop with a couple of employees trying to navigate through the FUFDA Government bureaucracy. What the hell was the FUFDA thinking? Never mind, I already know. Crush the cigar industry and run everyone out of business.

The same warning statement applies to cigars sold individually and not in product packages. However, instead of being required to place warnings directly on these product packages, retailers will be required to post signage at the point of sale listing the six warnings (five specifically for cigars and one addictiveness warning) on a minimum of 8.5 x 11 inch sign. The rule requires that the sign be placed on or within three inches of each cash register where payment is made and the sign is unobstructed in its entirety and can be easily read by each consumer making a purchase.

Here’s the list of cigar warning labels that must appear on cigar boxes and advertising:

 – WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.

– WARNING: Cigar smoking can cause cancers of the mouth and throat, even if you do not inhale.

– WARNING: Cigar smoking can cause lung cancer and heart disease.

– WARNING: Cigars are not a safe alternative to cigarettes.

– WARNING: Tobacco smoke increases the risk of lung cancer and heart disease, even in nonsmokers.

– WARNING: Cigar use while pregnant can harm you and your baby. (Or, as an optional alternative statement: SURGEON GENERAL WARNING: Tobacco Use Increases the Risk of Infertility, Stillbirth and Low Birth Weight.)

I love the last warning. When I hang out at cigar bars and retailers, I see tons of pregnant woman smoking cigars. There must be something about cigars that attracts pregnant woman. Insanity.

That cigar folks is all she wrote on cigar warnings. Stay tuned for next week’s Legislative Alert.



c.gar loves all things cigar-related. He typically falls in love with cigars that are discontinued shortly thereafter. His first cigar was a Swisher Sweet with a wood tip. Sadly, these are still in production.

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