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Leading Health Groups Call on Orange Bowl to Cancel Cigar Sponsorship

College Bowl Game Shouldn't Help Market Tobacco Products to Kids
December 20, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC — Major public health groups are calling on the Orange Bowl Committee and the NCAA to cancel a cigar company sponsorship of the marquee college football game, saying that promoting tobacco at sporting events entices teenagers and young men, and puts them at risk of developing a deadly addiction.

Davidoff of Geneva, parent company of Camacho Cigars, last week announced that it has signed a three-year deal making Camacho Cigars a corporate sponsor of the Orange Bowl Festival, which includes the 2012, 2013 and 2014 Discover Orange Bowls, the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship game and related fan events. The 2013 Discover BCS National Championship game will draw particularly intense fan interest and media attention.

Under the sponsorship agreement, Camacho Cigars will have a substantial presence at Sun Life stadium, with cigar lounges open to fans, and there will be a Camacho Club Lounge at the Orange Bowl Game Day Fan Zone, the largest pre-game event. The Camacho Cigars logo is also featured on the official Orange Bowl website.

In an open letter to the Orange Bowl Committee and the NCAA, 10 major public health and medical groups said the cigar sponsorship should be cancelled because it promotes tobacco use, the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. The groups are the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Dental Association, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Medical Association, Legacy and Oral Health America.

'The association of cigar smoking with one of the nation's top collegiate sporting events sends the wrong message to impressionable young fans and helps market cigars as athletic, masculine and cool. Linking tobacco use to sports also downplays the serious health risks of tobacco products,' the groups wrote.

'Tobacco has no place in athletics, and certainly should not have a place at the Orange Bowl, one of the nation's premier sporting events.'

The health groups said the cigar company sponsorship also is at odds with NCAA rules that forbid student-athletes and all game personnel from using tobacco in any form at practice or in competitions. Violations can result in ejection from the game.

'This blatant promotion of cigars at a high-profile sporting event continues the tobacco industry's decades-long practice of using sports and entertainment sponsorships to promote tobacco products, especially to youth. Cigarette and smokeless tobacco brand sponsorships are not allowed — for good reason — under the landmark federal law giving the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to regulate tobacco products,' the groups wrote. The FDA has authority to assert jurisdiction over cigars.

Cigars contain the same toxic and cancer-causing chemicals found in cigarettes, are addictive and harm health in many ways. According to the National Cancer Institute, cigar smoking causes lung cancer, as well as cancer of the oral cavity, larynx and esophagus. Heavy cigar smokers, especially those who inhale, have an increased risk of heart disease and chronic obstructive respiratory disease (COPD).

Cigar smoking is the second most common form of tobacco use among youth, after cigarette smoking. About 14 percent of high school students – including 18.6 percent of high school boys – smoke cigars, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Florida, more high school students smoked cigars than cigarettes in 2011, state data shows.