Like flavored vodka, the popularity of flavored cigars (banana, berry, gummy bear, wine, chocolate, watermelon, etc.) is on the rise. While cigarette use decreased 33% from 2000 to 2011, non-cigarette tobacco sales have increased 123% over the same period. And those cigar smokers include kids. According to the 2011 Connecticut School Health Survey, 14 percent of high school students are cigarette smokers while 11.3 smoke cigars. The New York chapter of the American Cancer Society wants the State to become the first to ban flavored cigars from being sold at convenience stores and gas stations. (The FDA banned candy and fruit flavored cigarettes in 2009 but didn’t include cigars.) The ACS claims flavored cigars are just like candy: a cheap thrill (99 cents), in brightly colored, shiny packages, marketed to kids.
The leading producer of flavorful specialty smokes is the American brand Phillies Blunt; the cigars are produced in Puerto Rico, manufactured by the Spanish corporation Altadis which is owned by the world’s largest producer of cigars, the British Imperial Tobacco. (It also owns Camel, Carlton, Gitanes, and Drum tobacco, among other brands.) When British businesswoman Alison Cooper took over as CEO of Imperial Tobacco in 2010, she said: “Tobacco has been traditional in the way it has operated. We want to move from being a tobacco manufacturer to a FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) company.”