Young People Smoke Cigars, Too
E-cigarettes, or “vapes,” are one of the latest evolutions in tobacco products. They’re also one of the biggest threats to our kids’ health. While traditional cigarette smoking rates have dropped, use of electronic smoking devices has skyrocketed among young people—exposing them to the dangers of nicotine, addiction, and a variety of new health risks.
In Wisconsin, 11 percent of middle schoolers have tried electronic tobacco products, and 4 percent of middle schoolers are current users. Those numbers jump by the time kids reach high school. Today, 32 percent of high schoolers have tried e-cigarettes, and 20 percent consider themselves current users.
What to Look For
The giant stogie you remember from old movies still exists, but today’s kids have traded it in for cigar products that come in many other shapes and sizes. Many look just like cigarettes.
- Little cigars can look a lot like cigarettes. They’re usually darker in color and may have a filter.
- Cigarillos are shorter and narrower than old-fashioned cigars. Some have wood or plastic tips.
- The average full-sized cigar is about 7 inches long.
- Cigar products can be sold as singles, or in pairs and packs.
Some of the Health Risks
Most of us are familiar with the many serious health risks associated with smoking cigarettes. Smoking cigars is just as dangerous and can negatively impact every organ in a young person’s body.
- Heart disease
- Lung disease
- Tooth decay and gum disease
- Cancers of the mouth, throat, and lungs
Share What You've Learned
Research shows that kids are more likely to avoid risky behaviors when they have an open, trusting relationship with parents and other caregivers, so talk to your kids about e-cigarettes and share what you know with parents, teachers, and others.
You Can Tell Your Kids:
Don’t be fooled by those sweet flavors. Flavors like strawberry, sour apple, and chocolate can give the impression that flavored cigars, little cigars, and cigarillos are milder versions of conventional tobacco, but sweet and minty flavors just help mask the harsh taste of cigar smoke—making cigar products easier to use, but not safe.
Smoking cigars isn’t a popular move. It’s natural for kids to want to keep up with their friends and classmates. Unfortunately, young people often overestimate just how popular tobacco is among their peers. Remind your child that most Wisconsin teens choose to live tobacco free. In fact, 94% of Wisconsin high schoolers aren’t smoking cigars.
Cheaper doesn’t mean less potent. Because they’re often sold as singles, cigar products can be surprisingly cheap, but a low price doesn’t necessarily mean less tobacco, fewer chemicals, or less harm done. A single, large cigar can contain an entire cigarette pack's worth of tobacco.
Cigars aren’t a safe alternative to cigarettes. No tobacco product is safe. Smoking cigars kills about 9,000 people in the U.S. each year. The nicotine in cigar products can harm an adolescent’s growing brain, and cigar smoke contains many of the same toxic, cancer-causing chemicals found in cigarettes.
Make Sure Others Know
Learn more about cigars, little cigars, cigarillos and the harm they can do:
- Back to School Resources on the Dangers of Youth E-cigarette Use
- E-Cigarettes Shaped Like USB Flash Drives
- The Truth about Little Cigars, Cigarillos, & Cigars
- Harm Perception of Nicotine Products Among College Freshmen
- 2018 Wisconsin Youth Tobacco Survey—Middle School, P-01624a
- 2018 Wisconsin Youth Tobacco Survey—High School, P-01624
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—Cigars
- The Rise of Cigars and Cigar-Smoking Harms
- Smoking and Youth
More Products, More Risks
Tobacco keeps changing. Learn more about the other addictive tobacco products that are endangering the health of Wisconsin’s youth.
Help Decrease the Appeal of Little Cigars
Most little cigars look just like cigarettes, but in Wisconsin, they’re taxed at a much lower rate. That price difference makes little cigars an appealing, affordable, option for young people on a budget. Find out how you can support comprehensive tobacco policies for a healthier state and take action in your own community.
Take the Next Step
Knowledge is power. Find out how the tobacco industry creates, packages, and markets its dangerous products to hook young people in your community.