Study: Tobacco Industry Continues Success in Hooking Kids with Flavored Tobacco Products

First Ever Study Finds Alarming Use of Flavored Little Cigars and Cigarettes Among Youth

Statement of the American Lung Association

Washington, D.C. (October 22, 2013)

More than 40 percent of middle and high school smokers are using flavored little cigars and cigarettes, according to a new study released today. While fruit- and candy-flavored products have long been a mainstay in the Big Tobacco playbook to addict kids and create life-long tobacco users, this new study also highlights how flavored tobacco products also work to discourage youth from quitting. The study found that among cigar smokers, youth who smoke flavored little cigars were more likely to not think about quitting (59.7%) using tobacco than nonusers of flavored little cigars (49.3%). The study, “Flavored-Little-Cigar and Flavored-Cigarette Use Among U.S. Middle and High School Students,” appeared in the Journal of Adolescent Health. The research shows that the rate of use of these flavored products is higher amongst high school smokers (42.4 percent) than amongst middle school smokers (29.8 percent). Little cigars remain unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“This study shows that the tobacco industry will not quit its efforts to addict kids. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of robust regulatory oversight of cigars and all tobacco products by FDA,” said Paul G. Billings, Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Education. “We need the Obama Administration to take common sense steps to eliminate the sale and marketing of flavored cigars and little cigars, as well as other flavored tobacco products.”

Today’s study is yet another example of the urgent need for the FDA to regulate all tobacco products including cigars and little cigars. The FDA was granted immediate authority to regulate cigarettes and smokeless products under the passage of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act in 2009. However, in order to remove flavorings and regulate little cigars, cigars and other tobacco products, the agency must first assert its authority. The Tobacco Control Act also prohibited the sale of candy-flavored cigarettes starting in September 2009, but flavored cigars—including those that look like cigarettes—are entirely unregulated by FDA. The American Lung Association has repeatedly called on FDA to prohibit menthol cigarettes, and for FDA to regulate cigars, e-cigarettes and other tobacco products currently not under the agency’s jurisdiction. A study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in September found that the use of e-cigarettes, which are sold in such flavors as fruit loops, gummy bear and cotton candy, among youth has doubled.

“Flavored tobacco products aimed at kids are a tried and true tobacco industry tactic,” added Billings. “Lack of action at this critical time by the FDA will only result in another generation lost to tobacco.”

The American Lung Association has also repeatedly called on Congress and states to close the loopholes in tax codes that allow these cigars to be sold cheaply – making them even more attractive to young smokers. In 2012, the Government Accountability Office released a study that found unequal tax rates among all tobacco products has led to “significant market shifts” as tobacco users switch to lower-priced products instead of quitting. Earlier this year, another study found that a dozen tobacco companies avoided $1.1 billion in tobacco taxes by adding kitty litter to their products to make them heavier, and taxed at a lower rate.

The use of any tobacco product, including cigars is not safe. Smoke from pipes and cigars contain the same toxic chemicals as cigarettes, and cause death and disease. 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. Each day, almost 3,000 youth under 18 smoke a cigar for the first time and 15.7 percent of all high school boys are current cigar users.

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About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases.  For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: www.Lung.org.