The good news is that, in many states across the country, fewer teenagers are smoking cigarettes but the bad news is that many of them have begun to smoke flavored cigars instead. While flavored cigarettes were prohibited by the FDA in 2009, flavored cigars, including Black & Mild cigarillos, are exempt from the ban.
So teens can now choose from an extensive list of strawberry, wine, chocolate, vanilla, and watermelon-flavored little cigars. As an added perk, these flavored mini cigars can be purchased individually instead of in whole packs like cigarettes. What s more, most states also have lower taxes on cigars than cigarettes, thus further reducing the cost to the consumer. Many teens are also under the false impression that these little cigars are less addictive; however, both cigarettes and little cigars are composed of the same tobacco leaf.
Unfortunately, recent statistics show that the popularity of these little cigars is on the rise among youth and, in some cases, even surpasses cigarette use. For instance, between 2000 and 2010, cigarette smoking among Maryland high school students decreased by about 40 percent, yet cigar use increased by over 11 percent. In Massachusetts, 22 percent of high school boys reported smoking cigars in 2009, compared to 18 percent who smoked cigarettes. And in New Jersey, for the first time ever, more high school boys smoked cigars than cigarettes in 2004. According to the CDC, about 14 percent of high school students smoked cigars nationwide in 2009, which, as ACSH's Dr. Ruth Kava points out, may be due to the vast amount of misinformation about the addictive nature of cigars that is circulating among teenagers. She adds, But let it be known that these little cigars are just as addictive as cigarettes, and if inhaled, can be just as dangerous too.