ADA, OHA ask NCAA to pull cigar ads from bowl game

2011 12 20 16 01 56 585 Cigars 70

The ADA and Oral Health America (OHA) are among 10 major public health groups calling on the Orange Bowl Committee and the NCAA to cancel a cigar company sponsorship of one of the biggest collegiate football events in the U.S.

Last week Camacho Cigars announced that it had signed a three-year deal to be a corporate sponsor of the Orange Bowl Festival, which includes the 2012, 2013, and 2014 Discover Orange Bowls, the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship game, and related fan events.

As part of the agreement, Camacho Cigars will have a "substantial presence" at Sun Life Stadium, the organizations noted, with cigar lounges open to fans. The Camacho Cigars logo also is featured on the official Orange Bowl website.

In a letter to the Orange Bowl Committee and the NCAA, the groups stated that the cigar sponsorship should be canceled because it promotes tobacco use.

"The association of cigar smoking with one of the nation's top collegiate sporting events sends the wrong message to impressionable young fans and helps market cigars as athletic, masculine, and cool. Linking tobacco use to sports also downplays the serious health risks of tobacco products," the groups wrote. "Tobacco has no place in athletics, and certainly should not have a place at the Orange Bowl, one of the nation's premier sporting events."

The cigar company sponsorship is also at odds with NCAA rules that forbid student athletes and all game personnel from using tobacco in any form at practice or in competitions, the groups said. Violations can result in ejection from the game.

In addition to the ADA and OHA, groups signing the letter are the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society, American Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Medical Association, and Legacy.

"This blatant promotion of cigars at a high-profile sporting event continues the tobacco industry's decades-long practice of using sports and entertainment sponsorships to promote tobacco products, especially to youth," the groups wrote. "Cigarette and smokeless tobacco brand sponsorships are not allowed -- for good reason -- under the landmark federal law giving the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco products."

Cigar smoking is the second most common form of tobacco use among U.S. youth, after cigarette smoking. About 14% of high school students -- including 18.6%t of high school boys -- smoke cigars, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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