The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is renewing its calls to the FDA to ban flavored cigars, saying they’re intentionally being marketed to kids with the goal of getting them addicted.
“It’s not only the product designed to be appealing to kids primarily because of the flavors that are used, but it’s also the industry’s marketing strategy, which is also targeted at our kids,” said Dennis Henigan of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
They estimate 500,000 high school students currently use flavored cigars. And each day in the U.S., 800 more kids try them for the first time. They’re the second most popular tobacco product behind e-cigarettes.
“We hope that the agency feels a sense of urgency about this because every day that passes, more kids are trying these products, getting addicted to these products,” Henigan said. “And the nicotine in these products is very harmful to the developing adolescent brain. But nicotine is also so addictive that it may lead to a lifetime of smoking with all of the health consequences that entails.”
The cigars are cheap, sometimes costing less than a dollar per pack. And they boast flavors like “iced donut” making them look more like candy.
“When we say ‘not your grandfather’s cigar,’ these are not your grandfather’s cigar,” Henigan said. “This is a product that was designed to be appealing to kids. The packaging is slick, it’s shiny, it’s colorful.”
Henigan said the FDA needs to act now, because, he says, putting an age limit on tobacco products clearly hasn’t worked.
“It cannot be allowed to continue,” Henigan said. “There are serious health consequences with allowing the industry to get away with this.”
If you’d like more information about the new report, which was done in conjunction with Rutgers University, you can click here.
One other key finding; they say the tobacco industry is also using social media and celebrities to try to recruit kids into using these products, especially in communities of color.