The AP reports a US government study has found flavored cigars are popular among teenagers, as approximately 1 in 30 middle and high school students admitted to smoking them. The CDC reported percentages rise as kids get older, to about 1 in 12 high school seniors and that roughly 16 percent of high school students smoked in 2011. Health officials believe flavoring masks tobacco’s taste makes smoking “more palatable.”
NBC News reports the “little cigars” are also less expensive than cigarettes.
Approximately 40 percent of middle school and high school smokers use flavored little cigars, according to data from the 2011 National Youth Tobacco Survey.
“The tobacco industry has a long history of using flavored products to attract kids,” said Danny McGoldrick, of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy and research organization.
Interviewed by ABC News, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden called the new data “disturbing” and says the “flavored little cigars are basically a deception. They’re marketed like cigarettes, they look like cigarettes, but they’re not taxed or regulated like cigarettes. And they’re increasing the number of kids who smoke.”