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Cigars Being Marketed to Children

Upon reading yesterday's Toronto Star newspaper, I came across a disturbing article that talked about cigars being dressed up to look like treats for children. The sub-heading for the article states:

Teens are falling for mint-chocolate flavoured, honey-dipped, sugar-tipped baby cigars because they're sweet, they're cheap and they're easy to get.

These cigarillos, or "baby cigars", are sold individually, are often displayed among or close to the store's selection of candies, smell and taste delicious, and may be perceived by children and teenagers as being less harmful and addictive than "adult" cigars and cigarettes. And while it is illegal to sell tobacco products to underaged individuals, the fact of the matter is that store owners often don't bother to check I.D. or even care if they are selling to kids.

The article goes on to discuss how tobacco companies are struggling to stay alive as cigarette sales drop by actively marketing other tobacco products, like cigars and cigarillos to children and teenagers.

Tobacco companies publicly state that they do not market to kids, but look at the product being sold: baby cigars, coated in sugar and offered in a variety of flavours such as mint, chocolate, apple, peach, and strawberry. The Toronto Star article quotes Matthew Barry, senior analyst for the U.S. Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids as stating:

These flavours are certainly not appealing to a grizzled, middle-aged, cigar-chomping, stereotypical cigar smoker.

A report published in 2000 in the Journal of the American Medical Association said that smoking one large cigar causes just as much nicotine exposure as smoking a whole pack of cigarettes. Cigars are no different than cigarettes in their ability to cause cancer in the lungs and the upper digestive tract region.

Since a number of media outlets are reporting that cigar smoking among teenagers is on the rise, I think it's critical for parents and teachers to include cigars in all conversations about the dangers of smoking cigarettes.

For more information about tobacco companies and their marketing strategies, visit the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids website.


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