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CDC: Youth Cigarette Smoking at Lowest Level in 22 Years; Youth Cigar and Smokeless Tobacco Use Remain Stagnant

Results Show Urgent Need for FDA to Finalize Rule to Regulate Cigars and Other Tobacco Products

(June 12, 2014) - Washington, D.C.

The American Lung Association welcomes today’s results that find youth cigarette smoking has dropped to 15.7 percent, the lowest level ever recorded, in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.  Part of this record low is attributable to a significant decrease in cigarette smoking among high school boys since 2011, from 19.9 percent to 16.4 percent, which is also the lowest level yet for this group. Lower cigarette smoking among youth directly translates into fewer people that will die from tobacco-caused disease. 

“These survey results clearly show that progress is being made; however, more than a million kids start smoking cigarettes each year,” said Paul G. Billings, Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Education of the American Lung Association.  “Proven measures such as higher cigarette taxes and comprehensive state tobacco prevention and cessation programs funded at CDC-recommended levels must continue to be implemented to help end the tobacco epidemic.”     

However, the news from the survey on cigar and smokeless tobacco use among youth was disappointing.  The study found that nationwide, 12.6 percent of students smoke cigars, cigarillos or little cigars. The findings show that an astonishing 23 percent of high school senior boys continue to smoke cigars and 8.8 percent of youth continue to use smokeless tobacco products. 

Cigar smoking is not safe. The U.S. Surgeon General and the National Cancer Institute have confirmed that cigar smoking can cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancers of the oral cavity, larynx, esophagus and lung, as well as heart disease. Cigar smoking is not limited to adults: each day, almost 2,800 youth under 18 smoke a cigar for the first time.

This disappointing news on use of cigars among youth highlights the urgent need for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to finalize its proposed rule that would give FDA basic oversight over cigars and all other tobacco products.  In April, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a proposal to begin oversight of cigars, little cigars, e-cigarettes, hookah and other unregulated tobacco products.  The FDA is considering exempting some cigars from all oversight.

“This study highlights how vital it is that FDA have basic authority over all tobacco products in order to protect public health and the health of our children,” added Billings.  “A sweetheart deal for cigars or any kind of tobacco product – especially those proven to cause lung and heart disease and cancer – is unacceptable.”


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