Livermore, Calif. Exempts Premium Cigars and Pipe Tobacco from Flavored Tobacco Ban

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On Monday night, the Livermore City Council approved an ordinance that exempts premium cigars and premium pipe tobacco from the city’s ban on flavored tobacco products, which was passed in July 2019.

According to the ordinance, in order to qualify for an exemption, a premium cigar must meet the following criteria:

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  • are composed of only tobacco leaves, water, and a de minimis amount of vegetable-based adhesive;
  • are handmade, and are not machine made;
  • are wrapped in whole leaf tobacco;
  • contain a 100% leaf tobacco binder;
  • are capped by hand;
  • do not have a filter, tip, or non-tobacco mouthpiece;
  • have a characterizing flavor that is added through a natural process such as mixing different types of tobacco leaves, soaking, or aromatic smoking, and are not flavored through a chemical process or other means;
  • weigh at least 2.7 grams per cigar.

For premium aromatic pipe tobaccos to qualify for the exemption, the city requires that:

  • it be composed of only cut tobacco leaves, water, and a de minimis amount of natural ingredients added during a casing process such as sugar, honey, licorice, fruit extracts, vanilla, rum, whisky, or cherry, except that menthol and mint flavored premium aromatic pipe tobacco is not eligible for this exception;
  • it has a characterizing flavor that is added during a casing process and that is derived from the application of natural ingredients through a natural process such as mixing, dipping, soaking, or aromatic smoking, and are not flavored through a chemical process or other means.

In order to sell these products, tobacco retailers must apply for a special license tag in addition to their existing tobacco retailer license. Additionally, the burden falls on the retailer to establish that the flavored tobacco products intended for sale meet the qualifications listed above. The ordinance only allows a licensed tobacco retailer to sell the specific flavored premium tobacco products identified for the license tag.

The city cited the Cigar Association of America and its comments to the FDA to help establish the definition of a premium cigar, adding that “the information and research data gathered in response to that proposed rulemaking shows that: premium cigars do not pose the same health risks as other tobacco products, including non-premium cigars; the patterns of premium cigar use differ substantially from patterns of other tobacco products; and that the use of premium cigars by youth is virtually non-existent.”

The ordinance must still go through a second reading before becoming law, which will happen 30 days following its final approval.

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I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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