HARTFORD, Conn. - Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is pleased with recently proposed federal rule changes that would prohibit cigarette manufacturers from calling their product "little cigars."

He calls such labeling "dangerous and disingenuous."

"If it looks, smokes and tastes like a cigarette, it's a cigarette, delivering addiction, illness and early death to its users," Blumenthal added.

Connecticut is one of 40 states celebrating the proposal. They were joined by the District of Columbia in a March 26 letter that urged federal officials to adopt the regulations proposed by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax an Trade Bureau.

Blumenthal feels that labeling cigarettes as "little cigars" helps the manufacturer avoid taxes, advertising bans and warning labels.

He also said the manufacturers can evade payments under the national tobacco settlement that he helped orchestrate in the 1990s. That settlement will cost tobacco companies $246 billion, while providing $14 billion to trial lawyers who negotiated it on behalf of the states.

"These regulations -- setting specific rules for wrapping paper, tobacco, filters and packaging -- will stop tobacco companies from exploiting legal loopholes to falsely market cigarettes as little cigars," Blumenthal said.

"Misleading consumers threatens public health and hard-won cuts in tobacco use, and robs states and the federal government of millions of dollars in taxes. I urge officials to tighten the proposed rules by requiring manufacturers to prove their products are cigars and establishing tougher standards for cigar content. The rules should ban packaging cigars to look like cigarettes."

Other states joining in the letter were: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

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