“Little Cigars” Clarification

After further review, it appears that the Alcohol Tax and Trade Bureau has not officially proposed the changes referred to in an earlier post.

TTB has received numerous inquiries about when it will publish proposed regulatory amendments regarding the classification of little cigars for Federal excise tax purposes.

TTB is currently drafting its proposed changes to the tobacco regulations. The proposed changes would add specific criteria to our regulations to differentiate between little cigars and cigarettes. We plan to publish the proposal for public comment by this summer.

Furthermore, the recommendations by the Attorneys General are aimed at a specific tobacco product that is not remotely related to the cigars found on Keepers of the Flame. And in reality, the recommendations have little to do with size; they have much more to do with the composition of the stick and how it is marketed to the public.

A “cigar” would be defined as a roll of tobacco that is wrapped in 100% natural leaf tobacco, or a substance that contains 75% or more tobacco which retains its original qualities, i.e. does not taste like a pineapple.

A “cigarette” would be defined as a roll of tobacco wrapped in paper (or other non-tobacco substance), or wrapped in a substance containing tobacco but is “likely to be offered to, or purchased by, consumers as a cigarette.” The new definition would cast a shadow of suspicion over cigars that are either sweetened, or are sold in packaging similar to that of cigarettes.

It appears that the AGs are after cigarettes that pass themselves off as cigars, such as “Primetime” cigars and other filtered tobacco products, sometimes called “brown cigarettes.” Personally, I have no interest in these, and I won’t touch cheap machine made cigars that use HTL (homogenized tobacco leaf.) So I’m not too worried.

However, the definitions seem to cast a net broad enough that fans of Acid cigars or other hand made flavored cigars may have cause for concern. Without a doubt the makers of genuine cigars that utilize cased tobacco or contain sucrose in any fashion will have their say before the final regulations are passed.

The AG recommendations have been published online by the California Attorney General.

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