Earlier this year, a federal report found that teen smoking had hit an all-time record low. But just when anti-smoking advocates were starting to celebrate, a new product hit the shelves, and some experts worry that it may be the new gateway to get kids smoking again: Flavored cigars.
With flavors such as white grape, strawberry, pineapple, chocolate, and Da Bomb Blueberry, flavored cigars can be found near the cash register of most convenience store, often right near the candy. And they have become the latest rage for partying teens and young adults. While cigarette sales have dropped dramatically over the last decade, the sales of cheaper alternatives such as flavored cigars have doubled in the same time period.
Four years ago, Congress enacted legislation that banned pretty much all flavors in cigarettes, except for menthol. And anti-smoking advocates cheered as they said these flavored cigarettes were drawing in younger smokers. But the law doesn't include any provisions for banning flavors in cigars or other tobacco products. The Food and Drug Administration has discretion to regulate them, but it has thus far remained silent on the issue.
In the meantime, convenience store sales of flavored cigars are continuing to skyrocket, and many kids who might normally pass on tobacco are giving the new flavors a try.
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