Posts Tagged ‘ addiction ’

Flavored Little Cigars Bringing the Teen Smoking Rate Up

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

An illustration shows a regular cigarette next to a little cigar.

“Little cigars” that resemble cigarettes and boast flavors like candy apple or chocolate are increasing in popularity among teenagers, many of whom might be deceived into thinking they are safer or less addictive than cigarettes, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Little cigar use is so popular, some forty percent of US middle schoolers say they have tried them, and they are boosting the overall rate of teens who smoke, alarming medical experts and public health officials alike.  More from NBC News:

Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called the new data “disturbing.”

“Flavored little cigars are basically a deception,” Frieden says. “They’re marketed like cigarettes, they look like cigarettes, but they’re not taxed or regulated like cigarettes. And they’re increasing the number of kids who smoke.”

A little cigar looks almost exactly like a cigarette: It’s the same size and shape, but instead of being wrapped in white paper, it’s wrapped in brown paper that contains some tobacco leaf. Many little cigars have a filter, like a cigarette, according to the American Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit that seeks to prevent teen smoking.

“What makes a cigar a cigar is that it has some tobacco in the paper. Little cigars — there’s just enough tobacco in that paper to make them cigars,” says Erika Sward, assistant vice president for national advocacy at the American Lung Association. “They really are cigarettes in cigar clothing.”

Not that cigars are healthy. Little cigars – and large cigars and cigarillos (a longer, slimmer version of the classic large cigar) – contain the same harmful and addictive compounds as cigarettes. They can cause lung, oral, laryngeal and esophageal cancers and they increase the smoker’s risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The only upside of a cigar is the way they are usually smoked: Cigar smokers tend to take shallower puffs instead of deep inhales. But some research has shown people tend to smoke little cigars just like they’d smoke cigarettes, by inhaling deeply, which can exacerbate the tobacco’s health risks.

But because little cigars are technically not cigarettes, they are taxed far less than cigarettes, making them that much more appealing to teenagers, because “kids are especially price-sensitive,” Sward says. A pack of little cigars can cost less than half as much as a pack of cigarettes, experts say.

Image: Little cigars and cigarettes, via American Legacy Foundation

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Study: Growing Number of Babies Born Addicted to Painkillers

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

As many as one baby per hour is born already addicted to opiate painkillers, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  CNN.com reports:

By 2009 there were more than 13,000 babies born with neonatal abstinence syndrome, a withdrawal syndrome that occurs in some babies after being exposed to a class of painkillers, called opiates, while in utero, according to the study published Monday.

“That’s about one baby per hour,” said Dr. Stephen Patrick, lead author of the study, which was published online in the Journal of American Medical Association. “We were surprised by it. That’s a startling increase.”

Perhaps more startling – that one baby per hour figure marks about a three-fold increase in the number of babies born with NAS since 2000; and during the same time period, opiate use among expectant mothers was also jumping, increasing nearly five-fold.

“There has been an incredible increase in the number of opiate pain relievers prescribed in the U.S.,” said Patrick, a fellow in the University of Michigan’s Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine. ”We think that might be part of the increase we are seeing.”

Image: Pregnant belly, via Shutterstock.

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Surgeon General: Teen Smoking an ‘Epidemic’

Friday, March 9th, 2012

One in five high school students smokes, and 9 out of 10 current smokers started the habit before age 18, a new report from the U.S. surgeon general’s office has found.  The report has led Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin to declare that youth smoking has reached epidemic proportions.

The report criticizes the tobacco industry for spending an estimated $27 million each day marketing to teens, and calls for greater measures to prevent teens from starting a dangerous habit that will likely last their whole lives.

MSNBC.com has more:

“Today, more than 600,000 middle school students and 3 million high school students smoke. We don’t want our children to start something now that they won’t be able to change later in life,” Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin said in the report, which details the scope, health consequences and influences that lead to youth tobacco use.

An estimated 3,800 kids pick up their first cigarette every day and 9 in 10 current smokers started before the age of 18. Some 99 percent of all first-time tobacco use happens by the age of 26, exposing young people to the long-term health effects of smoking, such as lung cancer and heart disease.

Smoking kills more than 1,200 people every day, and every tobacco-related death is replaced by two new smokers under the age of 25, the report said.

Image: Smoking cigarette, via Shutterstock.

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