PHOTO: Courtesy CDC

More than two out of every five middle and high school students who smoke report using either flavored little cigars or flavored cigarettes, according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published in the “Journal of Adolescent Health.”

The study also reportedly shows among youth cigar smokers, almost 60 percent of those who smoke flavored little cigars are not thinking about quitting tobacco use, compared with just over 49 percent among all other cigar smokers. Additionally, 35.4 percent of current youth cigarette smokers reported using flavored cigarettes, which could include menthol cigarettes or flavored little cigars that students mistook for flavored cigarettes.

In 2009, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act was enacted and prohibited the use of flavors, except menthol, in cigarettes. However, flavored little cigars are still manufactured and sold with candy and fruit flavorings.

According to CDC researchers, little cigars contain the same toxic and cancer-casing ingredients found in cigarettes and are not a safe alternative to cigarettes. In addition to offering a wide variety of flavors that appeal to young people, little cigars are taxed at a lower rate than cigarettes at the state level. Little cigars have become more popular in recent years; sales increased 240 percent from 1997 to 2007, with flavored brands making up almost 80 percent of the market share.

The CDC says smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, and 99 percent of all smokers start before they’re 26 years old.

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