"The cigar market is the most heavily flavored of
all tobacco products," said Cristine D. Delnevo, who led the
research. "For decades, tobacco industry internal documents have
highlighted that flavors appeal to youth and young people."
Delnevo, who directs the Center for Tobacco Surveillance &
Evaluation Research at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey in New
Brunswick, and colleagues from the National Institutes of Health
investigated recent market and survey data on flavored cigar use
among young people.
Delnevo and her coauthors analyzed an annual survey of drug and
alcohol use among Americans ages 12 and up. For this study, the
researchers selected the 6,700 survey responders in 2010 and 2011
who reported smoking cigars in the previous month and had noted
their usual brand.
They found that 8 percent of men and 2 percent of women said they
had smoked a cigar in the past 30 days, but 11 percent of people
between ages 18 and 25 years old had smoked a cigar — more than any
other age group.
Three quarters of cigar smokers reported a usual brand that offers
flavored varieties, according to the results published in the
journal Tobacco Control.
People who smoked cigarettes or those who smoked cigars daily were
more likely to report using a flavored brand. Flavored varieties
were also more popular among females, African Americans and people
under age 35.
By 2011, flavored cigars made up almost half of all cigar sales from
convenience stores, according to Nielsen market scanner data.
Between 2008 and 2011, revenue from cigar sales went up by 30
percent, driven largely by flavored cigar sales, which increased by
Flavored cigars increased from 42 percent of the cigar market in
2008 to 50 percent of the cigar market in 2011.
"It is important to remember that youth experiment with multiple
tobacco products, not just cigarettes," Delnevo told Reuters Health
by email. "In fact, the most recent data from the National Youth
Tobacco Survey show that rates of current cigarette and cigar use do
not differ among adolescent males."
Public health messaging in the past largely focused on cigarettes,
Cigars have been flavored for decades, but may be appealing to youth
more now as a substitute for cigarettes, Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention epidemiologist Brian King told Reuters Health.
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King is the senior scientific advisor to the CDC's Office on
Smoking and Health in Atlanta.
"Little cigars and cigarillos are the same size and shape and have
similar filters as cigarettes," he said. "They are essentially
cigarettes in disguise."
The Food and Drug Administration has banned flavorings other than
menthol in cigarettes, but that restriction does not apply to
"A lot of times they're bubble gum or chocolate or candy flavored,
and in many cases the packages are also framed in a manner to appeal
to kids," King said.
They are also less expensive than cigarettes because they are not
subject to the same taxes, all of which combines to give cigars a
"glaring loophole" in tobacco regulation, he said.
"In many states these products can be purchased for mere pocket
change," he said.
The price differential could potentially encourage cigarette smokers
to switch to a cheaper alternative when they might otherwise have
quit, Delnevo said.
It's important for parents and schools to remember that cigars
contain the same carcinogens as cigarettes, and they are not a safe
alternative, King said.
"We should use the same public health messaging for cigarettes and
cigars," he said.
Tobacco Control, online April 10, 2014.
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