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For the purposes of taxation and FDA regulation, “cigar” means “any roll of tobacco wrapped in leaf tobacco or in any substance containing tobacco” unless, “because of its appearance, the type of tobacco used in the filler, or its packaging and labeling, is likely to be offered to, or purchased by, consumers as a cigarette.”[1]  If this latter criterion is satisfied, the item is classified as a cigarette.

In determining close cases, the relevant government agency looks to whether the item tastes like a cigarette, is of typical cigarette size and shape, has a typical cigarette-type filter, is in a cigarette-type package, and/or is advertised as a cigarette.[2]  If these criteria are satisfied, the agency is likely to classify the item as a cigarette.

Under 2009 legislation, cigarettes must have large warnings on their advertisements and packaging.  Specifically, 15 U.S.C. § 1333 is amended to require that cigarette packages display 9 warnings about cigarettes’ health effects in 17-point font that cover the top half of the front and back of the package. Print advertisements must devote at least 20 percent of the ad’s area to these warnings.   

Thanks to the Smoking Prevention Act of 2009, a cigarette can no longer contain any “additive, an artificial or natural flavor (other than tobacco or menthol) or an herb or spice, including strawberry, grape, orange, clove, cinnamon, pineapple, vanilla, coconut, licorice, cocoa, chocolate, cherry, or coffee.”[3]  Other flavors – notably menthol – are not prohibited.

[1] 26 U.S.C § 5702(a)-(b); 15 U.S.C. § 1322(7); 21 U.S.C. § 900 (as amended by Smoking Prevention Act of 2009).
[2] ATF Rule 73-22, available at
[3] Smoking Prevention Act § ‘907(a)(1)(A).