Primary tabs

For the purposes of taxation and FDA regulation, a cigarette is defined in 26 U.S. Code § 5702 as

“any roll of tobacco wrapped in paper or in any substance not containing tobacco, and any roll of tobacco wrapped in any substance containing tobacco which, 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 “ … Tobacco products” means cigars, cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, pipe tobacco, and roll-your-own tobacco.
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.  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.” Other flavors – notably menthol – are not prohibited.

See: 26 U.S. Code § 5702; 21 U.S. Code § 387g

[Last updated in April of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]