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(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer, Assemblymember Carole Migden, Surgeon General David Satcher and Federal Trade Commission Chair Robert Pitofsky announced today that the federal government will require hazard warnings on cigar packages and advertisements.
Cigarette packaging and advertisements have been required to carry warning labels for decades, but cigars were excluded from federal regulation. In 1988, a settlement under California's Proposition 65 mandated that cigars sold in the state of California include on their packaging warning labels stating the following: "WARNING: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer, birth defects, and other reproductive harm." However, the labels have only been required on cigar packages sold in California and were not required on cigar advertisements.
Now, an FTC consent agreement with the seven largest producers of cigars in the country (that make up approximately 95% of cigars sold in the U.S.) has resulted in their compliance with clearly and conspicuously placed Surgeon General warning labels (each black and white with specific size requirements). The consent agreement, announced today, is open to a 30-day period of public comment, after which a final decision will be made by the FTC.
The text of the warning labels are as follows:
# SURGEON GENERAL WARNING: Cigar Smoking Can Cause Cancers Of The Mouth And Throat, Even If You Do Not Inhale.
# SURGEON GENERAL WARNING: Cigar Smoking Can Cause Lung Cancer And Heart Disease.
# SURGEON GENERAL WARNING: Tobacco Use Increases The Risk Of Infertility, Stillbirth And Low Birth Weight.
# SURGEON GENERAL WARNING: Cigars Are Not A Safe Alternative To Cigarettes.
# SURGEON GENERAL WARNING: Tobacco Smoke Increases The Risk Of Lung Cancer And Heart Disease, Even In Nonsmokers.
Included is the first tobacco-related warning pertaining to the dangers of environmental smoke. "These labels serve to enhance California's efforts to protect the health of its citizens by regulating public exposure to second-hand smoke," Lockyer stated. "Our state has been at the forefront of tobacco litigation and enforcement."
A law authored by California State Assemblymember Carole Migden (D-San Francisco) was set to take effect September 1st, requiring new and expanded rotating warnings on cigar packages. Because this law will be preempted by the federal consent agreement, the FTC worked closely with the Attorney General and Assemblymember Migden to ensure that the federal rules harmonized with California state law.
"I am thrilled to see that there will soon be a requirement to put a warning label on all cigars, not just those sold in California," said Migden. "This warning label will help assure that when people choose to smoke a cigar, that they will be aware of the health hazard to themselves and those who breathe their second-hand smoke."
"These warnings are essential," said Migden. "Cigar smoking leads to specific cancers of the lip, mouth, esophagus, the larynx and the lungs. These warnings represent a nationwide recognition of the serious health hazards of cigars."
The preemptive scope of this requirement applies exclusively to state laws regarding the labeling of cigar packages and advertisements. Current California law under Proposition 65 requiring that establishments that allow smoking post signs warning on-premises exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke will not be affected.
Lockyer has filed a letter with the FTC clarifying the interaction between state laws and the consent agreement. "These regulations serve to benefit Californians because, in addition to instituting warning labels, they provide warnings on cigar advertisements and carry with them the name of the Surgeon General. I applaud the efforts of the FTC and the Surgeon General to hold cigar manufacturers to the same standards as cigarette producers. This action will serve to benefit the health of all Americans."