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Blumenthal Calls on FDA to Act Following New Data on Flavored Tobacco Use

Press Release

Location: Hartford, CT

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said he was alarmed and appalled by new data showing a highly dangerous increase in the use of flavored cigars.

Saying "there is no excuse for federal inaction," Blumenthal called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to move forward immediately with long-awaited regulations that would assert authority over flavored cigars. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) report issued today found that nationally, the prevalence of flavored cigar use is greater among minorities, females, and young people. The state of Connecticut mirrors national disparities in use and frequency, with six percent of tobacco users smoking cigars, and 40 percent of those using flavored cigars. Although cigarette smoking has been slowly declining, total consumption of cigars in the United States has increased dramatically since 1993, reversing a decline in consumption that had lasted most of the 20th century.

"This report sounds a new alarm and call to action against the increasing use of cigars in new, even more pernicious forms when they're flavored to entice children and women, " said Blumenthal. "There is a clear need for proactive and powerful action which has been fully authorized by Congress. The FDA was scheduled to issue regulations to assert this authority to regulate all tobacco products in October of last year, but has yet to do so. I have called repeatedly for such action and I urge the FDA again to immediately prioritize this important regulation. A new generation is poised for a lifetime of addiction and disease, lured by the endlessly clever tobacco industry using flavored cigars as the bait. Between 2000 and 2011 alone, cigar consumption increased by 123 percent; our nation cannot afford to wait any longer."

In December of 2011, Blumenthal joined Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), in calling on the FDA to ban flavored cigars.

In 2009, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act became law and gave the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products, including restrictions on manufacturing, marketing, and distribution. In 2009, the FDA prohibited certain flavors of cigarettes, however flavored cigars, cigarillos, and little cigars, can still be legally manufactured, distributed, and sold in the U.S. Flavored cigars mask the harshness and taste of tobacco, making them easier to use and increasing their appeal among youth.

The report released today also found that flavored cigar smoking among all cigar smokers was higher among females (60.8 percent) than males (39.2 percent) and youth aged 18-24 (57 percent), decreasing as age and income rise. Nationally, 6.5 percent of users are cigar smokers, and 42.7 percent of those smoke flavored cigars.

The full report is available here:

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