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Report Finds Too Many American Children Are Smoking Flavored Cigars

Update Date: Oct 22, 2013 02:56 PM EDT

Despite efforts to stop children from smoking, a new report found that too many young Americans are smoking "little" cigars. These cigars look like cigarettes and are as deadly as cigarettes. However, they cost much less and they come in multiple flavors, such as candy apple and chocolate, which can be very enticing for America's youth. The report, the first of its kind to track the use of little cigars in the United States, reveals that more needs to be done to prevent children from picking up this habit.

"Flavored little cigars are basically a deception," the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Tom Frieden said according to NBC News. "They're marketed like cigarettes, they look like cigarettes, but they're not taxed or regulated like cigarettes. And they're increasing the number of kids who smoke."

For this report, the U.S. researchers used data from the 2011 National Youth Tobacco Survey. They found that around 40 percent of smokers in middle school and high school admitted using the flavored little cigars. The little cigar looks identical to a cigarette with the exception of being wrapped in brown paper as opposed to white. However, it is considered a cigar because the paper contains some tobacco leaves. Just because the product falls under the cigar category does not mean that it is any better than regular cigarettes, experts warned. Cigars can also increase one's risk of developing lung, oral, laryngeal and esophageal cancers.

"We know if they were cigarettes, what they're doing now would be banned," Frieden said. "If they were cigarettes, there would be a much greater awareness of their harm. But because they're seen as somehow different, they're getting another generation of kids hooked on tobacco."

According to the statistics, tobacco use in general has declined from 2000 to 2011 for American children. The adult smoking rate has also dropped by 33 percent within the time span. However, during this time, the use of non-cigarette tobacco products, such as cigars, have increased by 123 percent. These numbers reveal that even though cigarette smoking has declined, more needs to be done to control the use of other deadly products, such as these little flavored cigars. 

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