Cigar manufacturer Prime Time International has responded to U.S. Representative Henry Waxman’s request that FDA immediately regulate cigars and other tobacco products. (We previously reported on Representative Waxman’s August 27, 2012 request here.) Prime Time International’s response, a copy of which can be found here, makes a compelling case for delaying FDA regulation of cigars pending further study.
Citing government statistics, Prime Time International argues that cigars have not served as replacements for cigarettes, with cigarette consumption declining 53.6 billion units in recent years, while cigar consumption has increased by only 2.2 billion units in recent years. Prime Time International also points out the cigar smoking among youth has actually decreased in recent years since the passage of the Tobacco Control Act. With respect to flavored cigars, Prime Time International notes that cigar flavorings did not come in response to the ban on flavors in cigarettes, but rather have existed since the 1940s. Finally, Prime Time International asserts that the generally lower federal excise taxes for large cigars are not a “loophole” as Representative Waxman asserts, but rather represent Congress’ tax policy (previously supported by Representative Waxman), which should have no bearing on potential FDA regulation of cigars. Prime Time International points out that it should come as no suprise that consumer buying patterns have shifted toward the lower-taxed large cigars after Congress substantially increased the tax rates for small cigars in 2009.