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Another Low for Tobacco: Kitty Litter in Cigars

March 01, 2013

Tobacco companies have a long history of secretly adding things to their products that could make them more addictive, appealing or harmful.

Add another example to the list: Bloomberg News reported today that some of Cheyenne International’s cigars have a filter containing sepiolite, a clay material used in kitty litter.

Why would a tobacco company add kitty litter to cigars? According to the Bloomberg story by reporter Anna Edney, it is part of a strategy by some cigar manufacturers to increase the weight of their cigars to evade higher tax rates charged on smaller cigars and cigarettes and to continue selling candy and fruit-flavored tobacco products to kids despite Congress’ ban on flavored cigarettes. These schemes have undermined efforts to reduce smoking and helped manufacturers avoid more than a $1 billion in taxes since federal tobacco taxes were increased in 2009.

View a slideshow of these cigars and their filters.

Kitty litter in cigars sounds like a bad joke, but it points to a serious need to close these dangerous regulatory and tax loopholes. Read our full statement on the story.

The story was picked up by the blogosphere in a hurry, with commentary from sites such as Gawker and Salon. As Gawker put it, “Remember that whole thing about how your cat’s litter box was maybe making you crazy? This is worse.”

And it inspired us to start a Tumblr site, Kitty Litter Cigars The submissions make clear that cats are outraged and humans are disgusted by the tobacco industry’s latest shenanigans.