While the rate of kids smoking cigarettes has gone down over the last decade, youth cigar use has dramatically increased, according to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. The campaign blames an explosion of cheap, sweet little cigars that are readily available.
These aren’t your grandfather’s cigars. They’re packaged in bright colors and come in enticing flavors like wild cherry, apple, pineapple and grape. In 2009, the Food and Drug Administration banned candy or fruit-flavored cigarettes, but cigars aren’t similarly regulated and tobacco companies have taken advantage.
Between 2000 and 2012, cigar sales in the U.S. more than doubled from six billion to more than 13 billion cigars a year. At the same time, cigarette sales declined by nearly 34 percent.
According to data from the 2011 National Youth Tobacco Survey, about four in ten middle and high school smokers say they smoke flavored little cigars.
Cigars, big or small, are just as dangerous as cigarettes. Little cigars are considered cigarettes in cigar’s clothing. According to the National Cancer Institute and the U.S. Surgeon General, cigar smoking causes cancer, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Cigar smoke contains the same toxins as cigarette smoke. Some are more “smooth,” meaning they be easily inhaled comparable to cigarettes.
The Partnership at Drugfree.og recommends parents talk to their children early and often about why they shouldn’t smoke or do drugs. Parents also need to model the behavior they’d like their kids to display. If parents smoke, their children are more likely to smoke as well.