Florida’s Smokers Are Being Targetted Again, This Time by the Food and Drug Administration

Toby Hazlewood

Cigar smokers should be safe - for now

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During the Florida state legislative season, one of the bills that was passed (with modifications) was a ban on smoking of cigarettes and plastic-tipped cigars on state beaches and in public parks. The bill, HB 105 - Regulation of Smoking by Counties and Municipalities was passed with a large majority, but only once it had removed cigars without tips from the proposed legislation.

Now, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has turned its attention to curbing the rights of smokers and is seeking to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, on the premise that these are responsible for encouraging young people to start smoking. The proposed ruling was announced on April 28 by the FDA.

While the announcement may come as a blow to many smokers who prefer a menthol smoke, or a flavored cigar, for cigar purists the announcement seems to hold little to worry about.

But the exclusion of natural cigars from the proposed legislation will come as a relief for the many businesses in Florida that make and sell cigars too.

Commenting on proposals, Drew Newman of the J.C. Newman Cigar Company in Ybor City had this to say:

"It doesn't really change things because cigars in Ybor city have never really been flavored."

His firm reportedly make about 55,000 cigars each day, using only tobacco, water and an adhesive.

"Removing the bad butts off the beach"

Floridians are generally accustomed to their freedoms being observed, and these freedoms include the choice over whether to smoke or not, regardless of whether others see smoking as anti-social or not.

The legislation approved in Florida in March was more about the environmental pollution and litter than the health of smokers though, hence why it focused on products whose butts are not biodegradable.

Commenting on the legislation that was approved, Sen. Joe Rutgers who proposed the legislation had this to say:

“It helps the environment by removing the bad butts off the beach”

The health factor

The announcement by the FDA is intended to tackle a different issue - the health damage that most acknowledge is presented by smoking.

The CDC estimated that as of 2019, around 14% (or 31.4 million) Americans still classified themselves as smokers. Cigarette smoking kills around 480,000 Americans each year and men are more likely than women to smoke (15.3% of males compared to 12.7% of women).

According to the CDC, the southern census region has the second highest rate of smokers in the U.S. too, at 15.4% of the population. As many Floridians clearly still enjoy a smoke, it would seem likely that any restriction of their rights, freedoms or choices will be met with resistance.

That is of course dependent on the FDA restrictions coming into force. As of now, they're accepting public comments on the proposal and will reach a decision in July of this year.

Are you in favor of a ban on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars? Do you feel smokers should have the right to choose? Let me know in the comments section below.

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