Swamp Fest: Trump Campaign Holds… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Swamp Fest: Trump Campaign Holds Fundraiser with Cigar Interests as They Fight FDA Oversight that Protects Kids

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
June 25, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In an example of the political swamp at its worst, the Trump campaign and Donald Trump Jr. held a fundraiser Wednesday evening with cigar interests at the same time cigar companies are lobbying the Administration and Congress to weaken FDA oversight of cigars and completely exempt some cigars from any public health regulation.

The invitation for the fundraiser touted opportunities to hear from “cigar industry experts” and lobbyists about legislation to weaken current FDA regulations that protect kids and public health. Once again, the Administration is listening to the special interests of the tobacco industry rather than the concerns of parents who are sick and tired of tobacco companies addicting our kids. 

There is absolutely no public health justification for exempting any cigars from FDA oversight, especially as cigars are smoked by more than 1.4 million U.S. kids and they are sold in hundreds of flavors, from mango to banana smash, that clearly appeal to kids. In fact, more kids now smoke cigars than cigarettes, and cigar use is particularly high among Black high school students. Rather than weaken oversight of cigars, the FDA should strengthen its efforts to protect kids by prohibiting all flavored tobacco products, including flavored cigars.

In its 2016 rule that established oversight of cigars (the deeming rule), the FDA rightly rejected exemptions for any cigars, finding that all cigars increase the risk of disease, are potentially addictive and produce secondhand smoke that can cause disease in non-users. The FDA’s decision followed a multi-year scientific review and public comment process. There is no new evidence to support reversing course and exempting any cigars now. Any exemption would create a loophole the tobacco companies would exploit to introduce more products that appeal to kids.

If the Administration does the bidding of the cigar companies, it won’t be the first time it has sided with the tobacco industry over kids and families. In January, the Administration broke its promise to clear the market of flavored e-cigarettes that have fueled a youth addiction crisis and instead left thousands of flavored e-cigarettes on the market.  With cigars, will the Administration once again protect tobacco industry profits rather than the health of America’s kids?