The News about Kids and Flavored Cigars and e-Cigarettes
Kids and Flavored Cigars
I don’t know about you, but I never wanted to try cigars as a kid. Not so kids today—they like flavored ones, says an October report in the Journal of Adolescent Health. The report offered the scary news that “more than two fifths of U.S. middle and high school smokers report using flavored little cigars or flavored cigarettes.”
Wasn’t Bonnie, of Bonnie and Clyde, photographed with a cigar in her mouth? And didn’t one company market petite little cigars to women at one point? Advertisers are famous for sticking cigars in photos of models to make them appear sexy but tough, or sexy and tough, or…whatever.
So here we are today with flavored cigars. It’s the candy or fruit flavoring, of course, that at least make cigars more palatable. The fear is that it will result in lifelong tobacco use, with all its dangers. About 1 in 30 middle and high school students smoke the cigars, according to The New York Times, and by high school it’s 1 in 12. The study involved 19,000 students in grades 6 through 12.
Don’t be confused, as I was, because the report also mentions flavored cigarettes, which were banned in the U.S. in 2009, as mentioned in the New York Times article. The Camel Crush mentioned in the study is a menthol cigarette, and this is what the report is referring to. If you check Camel on Wikipedia, you’ll see the flavored cigarettes that have been discontinued. The flavored cigarettes are specifically the menthol ones. It’s flavored cigars that are new.
Kids and e-Cigarettes
If the general population took a quiz on e-cigarettes, would they know enough to pass it? EcigarettesUSA,com is touting their cylinders as a healthier alternative to cigarettes because their product contains no nicotine. But many companies ARE selling nicotine ecigarettes, and that means they are dangerous, and especially dangerous to kids who might become addicted to nicotine as a result.
What’s especially scary is that middle and high school students doubled their use of these cigarettes from 2011 to 2012. One website says that this is partly due to the brands that are flavored, such as bubble gum, gummy bear, orange cream soda and cotton candy. Cherry crush and vanilla dreams are two other flavors, reports a writer colleague of mine, Jen Singer, who asks Is Your Teen Vaping e-Cigarettes? More than 75 percent of young smokers use them in addition to regular cigarettes, she found.
E-cigarettes are not yet regulated by the FDA, but several states have restricted their use to try and protect young people. Alaska, Kansas, Idaho, and Maryland have age restrictions, and New York legislature has passed a bill awaiting Governor Cuomo’s signature.
New York even tried to have them banned altogether before the FDA weighed in, but they lost that battle. And if you’re in a restaurant, you just might be dining in the middle of e-smokers and be exposed to second hand smoke that way.
Another New York Times article said that “most public health officials seem to agree that the levels of toxins in e-cigarettes are far lower than those in traditional cigarettes”, but they argue that far too little is known about potentially harmful effects of some brands and about the effects of second-hand vapor. What also stands out in the article is that as with drinking, “ONE OF THE STRONGEST PREDICTORS OF WHETHER SOMEONE BECOMES A LIFELONG SMOKER IS HOW EARLY HE OR SHE STARTS EXPERIMENTING.” The writer points out that we have spent years trying to get people to stop smoking, and e-cigarettes may make it seem OK again.
E-cigarettes are being advertised as a way to quit smoking, but it’s scary that they’ve attracted so many young people. Believe it or not, that NYT article found that a former surgeon general has joined the board of directors of one of these companies, called NJOY.
I love Jen Singer’s message to kids:
“…if you’re a teen thinking of vaping because the grown-ups haven’t figure it out yet, and your friends say it’s no big deal, think for yourself. You’ll be hap-hap-happier when you don’t have to break a nicotine addiction in a few years.”