Wednesday October 23, 2013
A new study in the Journal of Adolescent Health caught my attention yesterday with some staggering statistics about tobacco use among our nation’s youth. The bottom line: far too many children are using flavored tobacco products.
The study – based on a 2011 CDC survey of 19,000 middle and high school students – found that more than 40 percent of current middle and high school student smokers smoke flavored small cigars or flavored cigarettes (mainly menthol flavored cigarettes). As students get older they are more likely to smoke these products – 1 in 12 high school seniors use flavored tobacco products. Furthermore, among youth cigar smokers, 60 percent of those who smoke flavored cigars said they aren’t thinking about quitting tobacco, compared to about 49 percent among all other cigar smokers.
Flavored tobacco products continue to be dangerously attractive to our nation’s youth because they mask the harsh taste of tobacco. While the 2009 Family Prevention and Tobacco Control Act for the first time gave the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products, including the ability to ban all flavored cigarettes except menthol, the tobacco industry continues to contrive ways to addict youth to its products. These small fruit- and candy-flavored cigars are often mistaken for cigarettes, and are incredibly cheap to purchase, all while skirting the existing regulation.
The results of this survey are further proof of the immediate need for the FDA to assert its jurisdiction over all other tobacco products so the agency can regulate them in the same way that it regulates cigarettes. Until the FDA takes this action, the tobacco industry will continue to find ways to sidestep effective tobacco control measures and addict more youth to its deadly products.