Cigars marketed toward kids
When I became a parent it never occurred to me to monitor kids for cigars.
So, I was shocked by results of a national survey, recently released by the Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids.
While cigarette sales have dropped 33 percent, the sales of small, sweet, cheap cigars have doubled. Furthermore, the national survey showed younger high school students were twice as likely to smoke little cigars or cigarillos, 13.1 percent compared with 6.6 percent, as young adults in the 18 to 24-year age group. That is according to the report titled “Not your Grandfather’s Cigar: A New Generation of Cheap & Sweet Cigars Threatens a New Generation of Kids.”
In 2009 the Food and Drug Administration banned candy flavored cigarettes, but the tobacco industry took advantage of a loophole, since the FDA currently doesn’t regulate cigars. In addition, large cigars, little cigars and cigarillos are not subject to the same tax rate as cigarettes.
On its website, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids is calling on Congress and states to equalize taxes on all tobacco products.
According to a 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 13.1 percent of all high school students had smoked cigars in just one month. In six states, including Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Wisconsin, youth cigar smoking surpassed cigarette smoking.
Cigar smoking harms health, according to the National Cancer Institute and the U.S. Surgeon General. It leads to cancer, heart disease and chronic pulmonary disease (COPD.) Cigars contain many of the same toxins as cigarette smoke.
Of course, cigars contain nicotine and are addictive, but I wonder how many of our local youth are experimenting with them. Perhaps The Daily Star would consider doing its own mini-poll to get an idea of the impact these little cigars have in our area.
(Kozubek is a project coordinator for Rural Three for Tobacco Free Communities.)