For the past few years, the premium cigar industry has certainly seen its share of creative branding – with some of it being on the controversial side. Today the Premium Cigars Association (PCA) issued a statement calling for “Responsible Marketing” of premium tobacco products. The statement emphasizes that, “marketing that makes use of characters, foods, or candy associated with children’s interests are never appropriate, even when targeted toward an adult audience.”
The following is the statement made to PCA members:
Dear PCA Members,
Our industry’s greatest argument against overregulation is that we do not fall into the scope of concerns levied against most tobacco or vapor products. Even the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) acknowledges premium cigars and pipes have a negligible impact on youth tobacco consumption and, according to the latest government studies, adult consumption patterns are not typically consistent with addiction. Furthermore, FDA’s enforcement data shows specialty retail is the most certain way to assure legal adult sales for any type of tobacco product. PCA encourages our members to take the necessary steps to ensure that this record is fortified and promoted to internal and external audiences.
Maintaining our reputation as the appropriate marketplace for tobacco is essential to the growth and sustainability of our businesses for both manufacturers and consumers. Each of us has played—and continues to play, a leading role in ensuring each generation of premium tobacco consumers is making reasoned and informed decisions as adults. Our continued effectiveness in this area limits the justifications that can be made by advocates for greater regulation by both policymakers and anti-tobacco special interest groups.
Therefore, it is incumbent upon us all, to not only exercise commonsense discretion, responsibility, and at times restraint in our marketing and sales practices, but to respectfully encourage our peers and business partners to do the same. As one of the most heavily regulated and monitored industries, we should also examine how our marketing efforts may be perceived by those outside of the premium cigar community.
Therefore, marketing that makes use of characters, foods, or candy associated with children’s interests are never appropriate, even when targeted toward an adult audience. While such incidents are rare, they harm our future by feeding the misinformation that all tobacco products put children at risk. Furthermore, they diminish the credibility of the industry before lawmakers and regulators in the states and in Washington D.C. It is not a goal of the Premium Cigar Association to stifle creativity in the ranks of both manufacturing and retail of premium cigars, but it is a duty of the association to protect the interest of the business of premium cigar retailing and call attention to those actions that put the entire industry at risk.
Responsible marketing supports the growth of the business by developing more educated adult consumers. It builds standing within the community and speaks to the historical, economic, cultural and social diversity of our customers. It is the public face of your business and a reflection of the premium cigar and pipe tobacco community. Whether you plan to sponsor a charity, post a sale online, take out a magazine advertisement or design your next label, be proud of the role you are playing to build a responsible marketplace. Manufacturers should be proud of the products they bring to market and retailers should take pride in the products they offer in their lounges and stores without having to fear government interference.
By applying our own commonsense standard, we take proactive action to protect the premium cigar and pipe industry from scrutiny and onerous regulation. It enables a path for us to promote and grow our markets without jeopardizing the recent advocacy achievements in the Halls of Congress, State Capitols, and in the courts.
This letter is not a response to address any recent activity, but a reminder of what is at stake and what we can do to preserve our reputations as premium cigar manufacturers and retailers. This will be an ongoing conversation where we value your opinions and feedback on steps that we can internally take to protect the premium cigar and pipe tobacco industry. PCA staff and board members will be soliciting input on this topic and many others in the coming months through surveys, retail visits, and focus groups, building up to the release of a strategic advocacy plan at the 2022 PCA Trade Show. It is time we look beyond the past and present and focus on the vision of the future.