Cigar Alert 12/27/96--ScarcNet

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SCARC ACTION ALERT - December 27, 1996

 

Cigar Trend Alerts Health Advocates

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"Will some of the goodwill generated by the cigar boom especially in America trickle down to other tobacco products, like cigarettes, which are taking so many front- line shots today?"

 

Glenn A. John, Editor, TOBACCO INTERNATIONAL, November 1996

 

 

******************************************************* SUMMARY

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Over the past few years, cigar use has increased dramatically and publicity about cigar use has created the perception that cigar smoking is a glamorous, mainstream "hobby" that is safely enjoyed by millions of Americans. A well-financed, carefully orchestrated marketing and public relations campaign has brought cigars to the forefront of public consciousness. Some health advocates believe that cigars are only beginning to emerge as a significant health concern; others, that cigar use is a fad that should not deter advocates from focusing on the endemic problem of long-term cigarette use.

 

The current data on cigar use shows some correlation with past trends in cigarette use. Consumption of cigars reached its peak in 1964 after the first Surgeon General's report on smoking and health was released, as millions of Americans switched from cigarettes to supposedly safer cigar smoking. In 1994, cigar sales rose for the first time since 1970, rising by 7 percent. In 1995, cigar sales rose 9.2 percent. A survey by database marketing company Metromail Corporation found that 5.8 percent of consumers polled in 1996 said they were cigar smokers, compared to 3.9 percent in 1995.

 

One person credited by the cigar industry and others for igniting the cigar craze is Marvin R. Shanken, publisher of CIGAR AFICIONADO magazine. CIGAR AFICIONADO, a glossy quarterly magazine devoted to the portrayal of cigars as a symbol of luxury, affluence, and the good life, catapulted from a circulation of 141,000 two years ago to nearly 400,000 in 1996. As part of the push to make cigars fashionable and acceptable, Shanken also promoted Cigar Nights in hotel banquet rooms. The popularity of these cigar evenings has accompanied the growth of cigar bars around the country.

 

A number of actors have jumped on the cigar bandwagon, openly displaying and discussing their appreciation for cigars. Most prominently, women celebrities have become public endorsers of cigar smoking, promoting the concept that women are liberating themselves from the stereotype that only powerful men smoke cigars. This practice dovetails well with ads by cigar companies which borrow from cigarette companies' strategies of portraying smoking as a glamorous "woman thing." Accompanying more frequent cigar use by celebrities, more and more movie television characters are being shown using cigars, bringing further exposure to the new trend. According to a survey by the American Lung Association of Sacramento-Emigrant Trials, California, of 133 Hollywood films reviewed in the past year, 77 percent portrayed tobacco use. Of those films, 52 percent portrayed cigar use.

 

Not surprisingly, the tobacco industry has welcomed the new trend. A recent article in the industry magazine TOBACCO INTERNATIONAL noted that cigars are helping to improve public perception about tobacco. Citing surveys that show many cigar smokers to be affluent and well- educated, the article concludes: "New cigar smokers, as a demographic group, are older and may be [sic] influential constituency in the fight for smokers' rights, and regardless of their stand on cigarette consumption, cigar smokers are forcing private businesses to open their doors to smokers of all kinds."

 

A different aspect of the cigar trend is the increasing use of cigars by young people. A practice called "blunting" has grown in popularity among inner-city youth. Cigars called "blunts," usually a Havatampa brand called Phillies Blunts, are purchased, emptied and filled with marijuana, then smoked as a front for pot use. Some believe this practice to have a "reverse gateway" effect, leading from pot use to tobacco use as young people find themselves growing accustomed to tobacco products and purchasing cigars or cigarettes when blunts are not readily available. Though an accompaniment to the overall cigar trend, "blunting" is a different phenomena than adult cigar use and requires a different response from health advocates. "Blunting" shows how cigar use directly affects youth.

 

Despite a perception that cigar use is relatively harmless, research links cigars with cancers of the mouth and lung, as well as with stroke, heart attacks and pulmonary disease. Though there are differences between constant cigarette smoking and occasional cigar use, cigars are not a safe alternative to cigarettes. Cigar smokers incur three times the risk of lung cancer than do nonsmokers, while cigarette smokers incur nine times as much risk. Cigar smoking also increases the risk of oral cancer from four- to tenfold. Moreover, the risk of disease to cigar smokers varies according to the smoker. While cigar smoke is generally not inhaled as cigarette smoke is, cigarette smokers who are used to inhaling preserve the habit when they switch to cigars, increasing their risk of disease. For nonsmokers, cigar use produces more harmful secondhand smoke than cigarettes. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, cigar smoke is more poisonous than cigarette smoke. Emissions from one cigar exceed those from three cigarettes, and carbon monoxide emissions are 30 times as high. Far from being trivial, the health risks to cigar smokers make the practice a very risky pursuit.

 

OTHER RESOURCES AND INFORMATION ABOUT CIGARS

 

SMOKING AND HEALTH, a report of the Surgeon General. US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Office on Smoking and Health. 1979.

 

WORK IN PROGRESS

 

MORBIDITY AND MORTALITY WEEKLY REPORT, Jan-Feb 1997 issue. Will feature school data on cigars and youth and young adults.

 

Monograph on cigars including health risks, prevalence, and usage patterns. Don Shopland, National Cancer Institute. Expected date of publication: November 1997.

 

 

******************************************************* OBJECTIVES

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1. To counter the growing public perception of cigar use as a badge of style and elegance that has minimal health risks.

 

2. To begin to collect more data on cigar marketing and use through existing surveys, compliance checks, and other community or state activities.

 

 

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MEDIA BITES

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Despite the public relations surrounding cigar use that depicts it as fashionable, trendy, and elegant, tobacco is still tobacco: a product with serious health risks.

 

There's nothing liberating about proving that women can abuse their health as well as men can. Women don't need to put poisonous wads of tobacco in their mouths to have success and power.

 

 

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USEFUL FACTS

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* The average cigar smoker smokes an estimated 6 - 8 cigars per week.

 

* There are an estimated 10 million cigar smokers in the U.S., of which less than 2 percent are women.

 

Source: Cigar Association of America.

 

FAMOUS PEOPLE WHO HAVE DIED FROM CIGAR-RELATED DISEASE

 

Ulysses S. Grant

Sigmund Freud

Babe Ruth

 

Source: University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter, January 1997, Volume 13, Issue 4.

 

MAJOR BRANDS OF THE BIG FOUR CIGAR MAKERS

 

SWISHER

Swisher Sweets

King Edward

Bering

 

HAVATAMPA

Between the Acts Havatampa

Madison - Phillies

Hav-a-tampa - Erik Filter Menthol

 

 

CONSOLIDATED

Dutch Treats El Producto

Super Value RoiTan

La Corona Muriel Sweet

Muriel Antonio y Cleopatra

Dutch Masters

 

GENERAL CIGAR

White Owl Canaria d'Oro

Macanudo Tijuana Smalls

Partagas Garcia y Vega

Robert Burns William Penn

 

Source: John Maxwell, Tobacco Reporter, August 1996.

 

 

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USEFUL QUOTES

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"The cigar is clearly enjoying a `renaissance' in the United States, as celebrities and notables fill the media with images of affluence and good living. Cigars are enjoying the notoriety and social panache that cigarettes had in the 1940s and 1950s, when every popular form of media featured heroes, both women and men, puffing on brands such as Lucky Strike, Chesterfield, and Camel . . . . in the mid 1990s . . . the media helped change the way the world thought about cigar smoking. By depicting the cigar as a gourmet item, romanticizing its honorable heritage and highlighting the celebrities that smoked them, the age-old cigar was reinvented and made fashionable again."

 

C.B. O'Hara, "Cohabitation: How the Cigar Resurgence Is Affecting the Cigarette

Industry," TOBACCO INTERNATIONAL, November 1996.

 

"Emissions are much greater for cigars than for cigarettes.

A cigar is bigger than a cigarette, so it is going to emit about five times as much tar as a cigarette."

 

Jim Repace, EPA, quoted in LOS ANGELES TIMES, October 16, 1996.

 

"When cigarette smokers switch to cigars or pipes, they usually have been found to continue to inhale in the way they were accustomed to when they smoked cigarettes . . . no health benefits should be anticipated from switching."

 

I.T.T. Higgins, American Health Foundation, NEW YORK TIMES, May 29, 1996.

 

"Smokeless tobacco caught us flat-footed in the 1970s and 1980s. We started to pay attention a decade later. We don't want this to happen again."

 

Donald Shopland, NCI Smoking and Tobacco Control Program Coordinator, WALL STREET JOURNAL, October 28, 1996.

 

"There are many activities that are a lot more `relaxing, beguiling and invigorating' than getting soddened with Scotch or choking on cigar smoke."

 

Abigail Trafford, "Raising a Little Health," WASHINGTON POST, December 24, 1996.

 

"At one time it was an axiom in the industry that those who took up cigars in a serious vein did so when they were about 30 years old. The highest concentration of smokers was in the 40 - 65 year old age group. Now we are seeing more men in their mid-20s taking up cigars."

 

Norman F. Sharp, President, Cigar Association of America, Inc. Letter, December 23, 1996.

 

 

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SUGGESTED ACTIONS

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1. Publicize cigar use by writing letters to the editor to follow-up on stories related to the cigar trend, emphasizing the dangers of cigar use. Work with reporters to generate stories framing cigar use as a serious health hazard that is currently surrounded by the glitz of a publicity campaign depicting it as a symbol of affluence, luxury, etc. Advocates can draw analogies between cigars'current glamourous aura and that of cigarettes in the `40s and `50s.

 

2. Encourage advocates, scientists and researchers to include cigars in studies and surveys on tobacco use. Include cigars when collecting information on local point- of-purchase advertising. When conducting local compliance checks on potential underage tobacco sales, include cigars.

 

3. Health advocates can use the information collected to demonstrate cigar company marketing strategies, and to show that youth access laws apply to cigars as well as cigarettes.

 

4. Consider including cigars when advocating any tobacco control policies.

 

** Feel free to copy this Alert with attribution. There is no need to ask permission. **

 

 

Marilyn Chase, "Enticing Cigar Ads Leave Most Smokers Unaware of Risks," WALL STREET JOURNAL, October 28, 1996.

 

University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter, January 1997. Vol. 13, Issue 4, p.2.

 

 

======================================================= Produced by: Smoking Control Advocacy Resource Center (SCARC)

 

Address: Advocacy Institute

1707 L Street NW., Suite 400

Washington, DC 20036

Tel: 202-659-8475, Fax: 202-659-8484

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** END OF ALERT **



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