Did you know that 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? Were you aware that in 2012 some 1.8 million middle and high school students said they tried e-cigarettes? Is your child at risk?
Increasingly, tobacco products and e-cigarettes include fruit- and candy-flavors such as fruit loops, gummy bears, and cotton candy. These sweet flavors entice kids and teens to get them hooked for a lifetime. A recent study “Flavored Little Cigar and Flavored Cigarette Use among US Middle and High School Students” that appeared in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that over 40 per cent of middle and high school smokers are using flavored little cigars and cigarettes.
Little cigars remain unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) even though the Tobacco Control Act prohibited the sale of candy-flavored cigarettes starting in September 2009. The FDA currently does not have restrictions on advertisers nor are there federal age restrictions preventing children from buying e-cigarettes.
As we all know, the use of tobacco products including cigars is unhealthy. Toxic chemicals like those in cigarettes are also found in smoking pipes and cigars. These can cause disease and death. The US 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.
The FDA warned that “smoking any kind of tobacco product increases the risk of developing serious health problems, including lung cancer, heart disease and emphysema. Tobacco products that are not smoked, such as snuff and chewing tobacco, have also been shown to cause gum disease and cancers of the mouth”. The FDA is examining options for regulating both menthol cigarettes and flavored tobacco products other than cigarettes.
In a 2013 report, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expressed concerns about e-cigarettes which included the “potential negative impact of nicotine on the adolescent brain development, as well as the risk for nicotine addiction and initiation of the use of conventional cigarettes or other tobacco products.”