Small Cigars Are Big Sellers
> 2/26/2008 9:48:24 AM

The concerted PR and legislative campaigns against cigarettes are working. Cities around the world have recognized the danger of cigarettes, and enacted special taxes and laws as strong as public bans to discourage the deadly habit. However, tobacco companies are not ready to give up without trying some smoke and mirrors. Their most recent sleight of hand, outlined in the latest report from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, is the marketing of "small cigars."

Small cigars look very similar to cigarettes, but they take advantage of a legal loophole to escape the special laws designed to curb cigarette smoking. Small cigars can be advertised under laxer regulations, and they are usually cheaper than cigarettes because they are sold under a lower tax rate. Younger generations have been drawn in by these advantages. A 2007 survey of 31,107 military recruits found that 12.3% of them regularly smoked cigars.

Tobacco companies push their small cigars on youth with colorful packaging and candy-like flavors. For example, Swisher, Inc. now offers chocolate, peach, and strawberry flavors, while Phillies Cigarillos gets straight to the point with their Sugarillos brand, for "when sweet isn't sweet enough."

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids not only identifies the new threat, but suggests a course of action. It recommends that concerned citizens support the pending S.625/H.R.1108 bill to extend FDA authority over new threats such as small cigars and smokeless tobacco. If we become complacent with declining cigarette sales, we may find that cancer rates stay inflated behind deceptively innocuous new tobacco products.

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