If you’re one to smoke an infused cigar by Drew Estate, a coffee-flavored NUB or any other flavored cigar or cigarillo, your days of enjoying cigars like this might be numbered. Today, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration announced a plan to ban all flavored cigars. That ban is part of a larger effort to ban menthol flavoring in cigarettes, the last permissible flavor since all other flavors of cigarettes were banned in 2009.
According to the FDA, the ban on flavored cigarettes inadvertently lead to increased use of flavored cigars. “After the 2009 statutory ban on flavors in cigarettes other than menthol, use of flavored cigars increased dramatically, suggesting that the public health goals of the flavored cigarette ban may have been undermined by continued availability of these flavored cigars,” said the FDA, via a press release issued today.
The FDA said it hoped to install the ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars “within the next year,” but this action is certain to face backlash from the companies behind the products being targeted. Such a ban, if implemented, could take years to become reality.
In its reasoning behind the proposed ban, the FDA maintains that many flavored cigars are consumed by underaged smokers:
“Nearly 74 percent of youth aged 12 to 17 who use cigars say they smoke cigars because they come in flavors they enjoy…Moreover, in 2020, more young people tried a cigar every day than tried a cigarette.”
Flavored cigars are quite different than traditional, handmade premium cigars that Cigar Aficionado rates on a regular basis. While this FDA ruling would not affect the premium sector directly, several companies that manufacture premium, handmade smokes also produce flavored cigars. Corporations such as Swisher, for example, the parent company of Drew Estate, make the best-selling flavored cigar in America, Swisher Sweets, an inexpensive smoke sold in convenience stores, not fine cigar shops. Drew Estate makes the unflavored Liga Privada and Undercrown brands but also makes the flavored (or infused) brand Acid.
European tobacco giant Scandinavian Tobacco Group would also be affected by the proposed flavor ban. STG not only owns General Cigar Co. and its portfolio of handmade cigars, but also makes flavored cigar and cigarillo brands including Flavours by CAO, Panter and Café Crème.
The FDA’s proposal has yet to be set in stone. The next step will be for the agency to publish its proposed rules in the Federal Register, which will allow for public comment.
The agency stated that it would not prosecute consumers in possession of flavored cigars, but, rather, enforce the law by going after manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, importers and retailers.
The original version of this story identified Altadis U.S.A. as the owner of Backwoods. Altadis U.S.A. no longer produces, owns or distributes the Backwoods brand.