Thanks to tobacco control efforts, over the past decade consumption of cigarettes are down, however sales of other harmful tobacco products have increased.
There are currently three major cigar products – little cigars, cigarillos and cigars. According to experts at last week’s National Conference on Tobacco or Health, the sales of cigarillos and little cigars have increased dramatically (233 percent) from 2000-2011 — particularly among young adults.
Despite their growth in popularity, little is known about these products. There is not currently any national prevalence data for little cigar or cigarillo products. What IS known is that consumers of these products believe they are less harmful than cigarettes, while in fact, large cigars, little cigars and cigarillos contain many of the same harmful contents as cigarettes and can be just as addictive. Cigars pose significant health risks including cancers of the mouth, lung, esophagus and larynx.
Because they are taxed at a lower rate and regulated differently than cigarettes, the use of these products is growing at an alarming rate among youth. A study on Tobacco Use Among Middle and High School students by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found:
- 1 in 5 high school males admit smoking a cigar.
- Over 11% of young adults (18-25) smoke cigars in some form.
- 23% of young adults who use tobacco are dual-users.
- Nationally 13 percent of high school students currently smoke cigars compared to 18 percent who smoke cigarettes.
- Among black high school students, cigar use increase from 7 percent to 11.7 percent in two years (2009 to 2011).
Part of its appeal is that the products’ marketing is fun and attractive. It can be found in fruit and candy flavors, is often sold individually and is inexpensive — often costing less than ice cream or candy.
As health advocates, we are committed to reducing tobacco use — that commitment should include reducing the use of cigars, cigarillos and little cigars.