Cigar Smoking On The Rise
The war on cigarettes is being won. After a 20-year battle, cigarette smoking is in sharp decline, public smoking is becoming a rarity, and tobacco companies have their tails between their legs.
Or do they?
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that cigarette usage has plummeted by 33 percent from 2000 to 2011. However, the use of other kinds of tobacco – cigars and smokeless tobacco – more than doubled, rising 123 percent over the last 11 years. When you combine the statistics to get a picture of overall tobacco usage, we really aren’t doing nearly as well as you might think - tobacco consumption has dropped just one percent since the turn of the century.
Cigars are the big culprit. And we’re not talking about big stogies that are featured on the cover of Cigar Aficionado magazine. We’re talking about so-called "little cigars" – they look almost exactly like cigarettes except that they’re brown, and – most importantly – are taxed at much lower rates. That means they cost significantly less.
Because of the taxes on cigarettes, a pack of smokes is going to cost you at least $.25, even at Wawa. But those “cigars” only cost about $1.40 a pack.
The CDC’s Michael Tynan told USA Today…
"They look like cigarettes… They smoke like cigarettes. They taste better than a cigarette, because they have flavors. They are cheaper than cigarettes, because of the tax issues. But they are just as deadly. They contain the same toxic chemicals."
Perhaps the most alarming aspect of this report is who is buying and smoking little cigars: young people, who generally have less disposable income. According to the American Cancer Society, 99 percent of smokers start before the age of 26, so the fact that little cigars appeal more to a younger crowd is troubling. Despite the hopes of many and the intentions of tax policy, it appears the tobacco companies have successfully found a loophole and successfully spawned a new generation of smokers.
Free tobacco cessation counseling and nicotine replacement therapies (patch, gum and lozenge) are available from the Crozer-Keystone Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program. To learn more, call (610) 447-6009.
For more information about Crozer-Keystone cancer services, visit http://ckcancer.crozerkeystone.org.