More kids smoking candy flavored tobacco
Many parents may not be happy to hear the new statistics released this week that show an alarming number of U.S. high school students are smoking flavored tobacco products like hookah, cigars and e-cigarettes, which are not subject to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation.
According to the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hookah use among high school teens rose to 5.4 percent in 2012, up from 4.1 percent in 2011. The data also showed that the use of electronic or e-cigarettes ticked up from 1.5 percent to 2.8 percent during the same time period. The highest increase was seen in cigar smoking among black high school students, which climbed a whopping five percent, from 11.7 to 16.7 percent—more than double since 2009.
What’s behind the surge?
Taste is apparently driving the habit. Unlike traditional cigarettes, whose makers are prohibited by law from using such flavoring; hookah, cigars and e-cigarettes are fair game to be spiced up, which is attracting younger consumers.
And even though the taste factor is fueling the spike in flavored tobacco use, smoking in general is also on the rise among young adults. A recent study published by the Journal of Adolescent Health shows the number of American teens who smoke post-high school is up by 50 percent. According to the publication, there are three key factors driving the behavior in teens including impulsive behavior, poor grades and those who regularly drink alcohol. The same study also revealed that the tobacco industry is increasing its efforts to appeal to young adults. In an online statement, one CDC official said that some marketing for flavored tobacco may leave kids with the impression that the products are safer alternatives to cigarettes.
While the news has some experts proposing that smoking prevention campaigns begin targeting teens as young as 12, the FDA has said it intends to issue a proposed rule that would expand its ability regulate these products.
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