Warning Labels

Editor's Note: As noted above, these restrictions will not go into effect for premium cigars. I have decided to leave the below text up so that you can see what could have happened. — CM.

As part of the deeming regulations, all cigars sold in the U.S. are required to have warning labels placed on two "principal display panels" of the packaging, like the front and top of the box. These warnings must cover at least 30 percent of each of the panels they are affixed to with black font on a white background.

  • WARNING: Cigar smoking can cause cancers of the mouth and throat, even if you do not inhale.
  • WARNING: Cigar smoking can cause lung cancer and heart disease.
  • WARNING: Cigars are not a safe alternative to cigarettes.
  • WARNING: Tobacco smoke increases the risk of lung cancer and heart disease, even in nonsmokers.
  • WARNING: Cigar use while pregnant can harm you and your baby.

Seven cigar manufacturers have previously signed a separate agreement with FTC that has required them to use smaller warning labels. FDA believes that using its warning labels will satisfy the FTC requirement. (Deeming Tobacco Products To Be Subject to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act…, 371-372) FDA is giving those seven manufacturers the option to use an alternative warning in place of the aforementioned fifth warning regarding pregnancy:

  • SURGEON GENERAL WARNING: Tobacco Use Increases the Risk of Infertility, Stillbirth and Low Birth Weight

Warning Plans

FDA requires the five warning messages to be rotated evenly by each manufacturer. So if a manufacturer sells 1,000 boxes of a particular SKU in a given year, they must ensure the five warning labels each appear on 200 boxes.

Beginning in August 2017, cigar makers were required to submit a warning plan, outlining how manufacturers intend on rotating these messages on a quarterly basis. The warning plan must cover not only the cigars themselves but also the warning labels used on advertising.

These warning plans must be submitted on an annual basis outlining how a manufacturer intends to use warning labels.

Cigar retailers are required to have an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper with all five placed three-inches from the register.

The only exception would be if that store did not sell any cigars individually and only sold cigars by the box.


Last Updated: April 29, 2020.