Tobacco Products

Cigars, Cigarillos, Little Filtered Cigars

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A cigar is a roll of tobacco wrapped in leaf tobacco or in a substance that contains tobacco. Most cigars are combustible tobacco products. They vary in size—from smaller cigars, such as little filtered cigars or cigarillos, to larger ones, such as large so-called premium cigars.

Cigars are not a safe alternative to cigarettes and cigar smoke is at least as toxic as cigarette smoke, if not more. Large cigars can deliver as much as 10 times the nicotine, two times the tar, and more than five times the carbon monoxide of a filtered cigarette.1

There are cigar products available on the market that resemble cigarettes in size and shape but are labeled as “little cigars” or “filtered cigars.” Little filtered cigars as well as cigarillos might contain candy or fruit flavors that appeal to adolescents and young adults.2,3 In addition, young adults may think that cigars are less addictive and present fewer health risks than cigarettes, but cigars may actually be worse.4,5,10

Cigars, Cigarillos, Little Filtered Cigars

Cigars, Cigarillos, Little Filtered Cigars

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Statistics about Cigar Use

Nationwide, in 2016:

  • Each day, on average, nearly 1,900 youth under 18 years of age smoked their first cigar.6
  • Each day, on average, more male youth under age 18 tried a cigar than tried a cigarette.6

Nationwide, in 2015:

  • 7.7% (an estimated 1.1 million) of high school students and 2.2% (an estimated 180,000) of middle school students reported smoking a cigar within the past 30 days.7 
  • Among African-American high school students, cigars (12.8%) were the most common tobacco product used.7

Nationwide, in 2014:

  • 4.8% of adults reported smoking a cigar within the past 30 days.8

Nationwide, in 2013-2014:

  • 73.8% of youth aged 12-17 who used cigars said that they smoked cigars because “they come in flavors I like.”9
  • 58.2% of these youth said they smoked cigars “because they are affordable.”9

FDA Regulation of Cigars

In 2016, FDA finalized a rule extending our regulatory authority to cover cigars, and all other tobacco products, except accessories of those products. FDA regulates the manufacture, import, packaging, labeling, advertising, promotion, sale, and distribution of cigars. This includes components and parts such as rolling papers and filters, but excludes accessories such as lighters and cutters.

Manufacturing Cigars

If you make, modify, mix, manufacture, fabricate, assemble, process, label, repack, relabel, or import cigars, you must comply with the requirements for manufacturers.

CTP's Office of Small Business Assistance can answer specific questions about requirements of small businesses and how to comply with the law. This office also provides online educational resources to help regulated industry understand FDA regulations and policies.

Warning Statement Requirements and Warning Plans

Federal Rules for Cigar Sales Flyer

Retail Rules for Cigar Sales flyer thumbnail.  Click to Access.

Order Print Copies

All "covered" tobacco products, including cigars, must bear required warning statements and additional required statements on product packages and advertisements. Cigar warning plans must also be submitted. For more information, see:

Retail Sales of Cigars

If you sell cigars, please read this summary of federal rules that retailers must follow. You may also order flyers with rules for cigar sales or download a PDF to print yourself.  You can find a list of retailer responsibilities for cigars in the final rule Deeming Tobacco Products To Be Subject to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

Importing Cigars

Tobacco products imported or offered for import into the United States must comply with all the applicable requirements under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). You can find more information on the Importing and Exporting webpage.

You can also learn more about the importation process in the FDA Regulatory Procedures Manual, Chapter 9, Import Operations and Actions.

If you have questions about importing a specific tobacco product, please contact the FDA district into which your product will be imported (PDF - 406 KB).

Reporting Adverse Experiences and Product Violations

If you have experienced an unexpected health or safety issue with a specific tobacco product, you can report your adverse experience to FDA. Knowledge about adverse experiences can help FDA identify health or safety issues beyond those normally associated with product use.

If you believe these products are being sold to minors, or you see another potential violation of the FD&C Act or FDA’s tobacco regulations, report the potential violation.

1. National Cancer Institute (NCI). Cigars: Health Effects and Trends Tobacco Control Monograph 9. Bethesda, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute; 1998.
2. Villanti AC, Richardson A, Vallone DM, et al. Flavored tobacco product use among U.S. young adults. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2013; 44(4):388–391.
3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS). A Report of the Surgeon General: Preventing Tobacco Use among Youth and Young Adults. We Can Make the Next Generation Tobacco-Free (Consumer Booklet). Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; 2012.
4. Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Youth Use of Cigars: Patterns of Use and Perceptions of Risk. 1999.
5. Malone R, Yerger V, Pearson C. Cigar risk perception in focus groups of urban African American youth. Journal of Substance Abuse. 2001; 13(4):549–561.
6. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality; 2017. Accessed October 12, 2017.
7. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Tobacco use among middle and high school students – United States, 2011-2016. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 2017; 66(23):597-603.
8. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality; 2015. Table 2.36B. Accessed October 29, 2015.
9. Ambrose BK, Day HR, Rostron B et al. “Flavored Tobacco Product Use Among U.S. Youth Aged 12‐17 Years, 2013‐2014,” Journal of the American Medical Association, 314(17):1871‐1873, 2015.
10.  Shanks TG, Burns DM. Disease consequences of cigar smoking. In: Smoking and Tobacco Control Monograph 9: Cigars–Health Effects and Trends. Bethesda, MD: 1998.
Chang CM, Corey CG, Rostron BL, Apelberg BJ. Systematic review of cigar smoking and all-cause and smoking-related mortality. BMC Public Health. 2015; 15:390.



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