While the government has long focused on restricting sales of cigarettes, regulations for products like flavored cigars have lagged behind.
Now, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is attempting to regulate the cigar market in the hopes that restricting flavored products will make cigars less appealing to younger consumers, Medical Daily reported.
Sales of cigars with flavors like grape, strawberry and chocolate have increased by nearly 40 percent since 2008, according to a New York Times interview with Christine Delnevo, a tobacco researcher at Rutgers University.
Furthermore, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found that while teenage smoking declined by 33 percent in 2012, other forms of tobacco use among teens increased by 123 percent.
In 2009, when the government passed the Family Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, all flavored cigarettes except for menthols were banned in order to discourage minors from purchasing the products. But the bill made no mention of cigars, and the decision to regulate them was transferred to the FDA.
Now, to address the burgeoning flavored cigar market, the FDA has started warning tobacco companies not to categorize roll-your-own tobacco as pipe tobacco – a method companies use to avoid taxes and regulation since the two products have different tax codes.
“The 20th century was the cigarette century, and we worked very hard to address that,” Gregory N. Connolly, director of the Center for Global Tobacco Control at Harvard School of Public Health, told the New York Times. “Now the 21st century is about multiple tobacco products. They’re cheap. They’re flavored. And some of them you can use anywhere.”