Recently government health officials warned electronic cigarette use was a growing problem among U.S. teens who may be drawn to the flavored products. Now a new government report shows some are also turning to flavored little cigars.
The report showed more than 35 percent of youth smokers puff on
flavored tobacco products, which could include flavored cigarillos or
menthol cigarettes. That's worrisome to officials because in 2009, the
Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was passed to ban
flavored non-menthol cigarettes. However, little cigars sold with fruit
and candy flavorings did not fall under the legislation and may be
attractive to young people.
"Little cigars contain the same toxic
and cancer-causing ingredients found in cigarettes and are not a safe
alternative to cigarettes," Dr. Tim McAfee, director of the CDC's Office
on Smoking and Health, said in a press release.
"Many flavored little cigars appear virtually indistinguishable from
cigarettes with similar sizes, shapes, filters, and packaging."
Overall, about six percent of surveyed middle and high students said they smoked flavored little cigars or menthols.
The new findings were taken from the 2011 National Youth Tobacco Survey,
a nationally representative survey of about 20,000 sixth through twelve
graders on their attitudes towards and use of tobacco products.
survey also revealed almost 60 percent of users of flavored little
cigars are not currently considering quitting, compared to 49 percent of
other cigar smokers.
Little cigars are getting more popular
according to sales figures, the CDC added. Sales skyrocketed 240 percent
between 1997 and 2007, with 80 percent of the market share dominated by
flavored brands. The products are also taxed at lower rates on state
level compared to conventional cigarettes.
The health agency pays
close attention to youth tobacco rates and attitudes given 99 percent
of all smokers pick up the habit before they turn 26.
little cigars appeal to youth and the use of these tobacco products may
lead to disfigurement, disability, and premature death," CDC director
Dr. Tom Frieden, added.
The agency noted the Affordable Care Act
will allow more Americans to get health care coverage, including
preventive services that can help a person quit smoking.
The CDC published its findings in the Nov. issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.
This isn't the only youth smoking trend officials are paying close attention to at the healthy agency.
In Sept, researchers dove into the tobacco survey and determined
e-cigarette use doubled from 2011 to 2012, from 4.7 percent of surveyed
high school students in 2011 to 10 percent by 2012.
are not regulated by the FDA unless they claim smoking cessation
benefits and as such may be sold to minors in some states. Forty attorneys general sent a letter to the FDA on Sept. 24 urging the government agency to regulate the products like they do standard tobacco products.
"We need to take comprehensive steps to reduce all tobacco use for all of our youth," Frieden.