Sweet-Flavored Little Cigar Sales Booming Among Youth

They taste like candy, the sweet and fruit-flavored little cigars, they look like cigarettes, and are as addicting as cigarettes – and young people are flocking to them in droves. A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that one in 20 middle and high school students said they smoke the sweet small cigars but rises to nearly one in 12 high school seniors who do. According to health officials, the sweet flavoring that tobacco companies use can mask the harsh tobacco taste and make cigar smoking more palatable. The study findings are based on a 2011 survey of nearly 19,000 students in grades 6 through 12. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the sale of candy, clove and fruit-flavored cigarettes in 2009, although it continued to allow menthol cigarettes to be sold. The CDC survey included a question about menthol-flavored cigarettes. When those were included, more than 40 percent of kids who were current smokers in the survey said they were using flavored cigars or cigarettes. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, an advocacy and research organization, said in a release that sales of regular and flavored cigars have skyrocketed in the last 12 years, from 6 billion to more than 13 billion annually. The CDC study concluded that more than two fifths of U.S. middle and high school smokers report using flavored little cigars or cigarettes and “disparities in the use of these products exist across subpopulations.” The authors say that “efforts are needed to reduce flavored tobacco products use among youth.”

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