Know the Products

Tobacco products

Cigarette use may be dropping among Wisconsin’s youth, but other, newer tobacco products are gaining popularity fast.

And that’s not good, because there’s no such thing as a safe tobacco product. Designed to deliver nicotine—a highly addictive additive that can keep kids hooked for life—these new tobacco products come in a wide range of shapes and styles. Take a closer look at the new products your kids are seeing in stores and in ads, at parties, and on YouTube.

 

Cigar Products

Cigars

Flavored cigars

Flavored Cigars

Cigars, little cigars, and cigarillos may come in different sizes, but they’re all basically the same product: shredded tobacco tightly rolled in tobacco paper or leaves. Today, cigar products are available in hundreds of sweet, fruity, and minty flavors. They’re sold in packs or one at a time—usually, for less than a pack of cigarettes. In fact, some individually-wrapped cigars cost less than a dollar.

In Wisconsin, 4% of middle schoolers and 19% of high schoolers have tried cigars or cigarillos at least once. About 1% of middle schoolers and 6% of high schoolers are current users.

What to Look For:

  • 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-size cigar is about 7 inches long.
  • Cigar products can be sold as singles and in pairs and packs.

Some of the Health Risks:

  • Heart disease
  • Lung disease
  • Tooth decay and gum disease
  • Cancers of the mouth, throat, and lungs

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 a 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.

Resources

Learn more about cigars, little cigars, cigarillos and the harm they can do:

Electronic Cigarettes

e-Cigarettes

Flavored eCigs

e-Cigarettes

eCigarette and liquid nicotine

E-cigs, vape pens, e-pipes, disposable hookahs: These handheld devices use battery power to vaporize liquids that usually contain a mix of nicotine, flavorings, and other substances. Users inhale the aerosol that’s released. Cheap and discreet, with no telltale smell of smoke, e-cigarettes have quickly become the most popular tobacco product among young people nationwide.

Sweet and trendy flavors like root beer float, unicorn puke, cotton candy, and banana split are a big part of e-cigarettes’ popularity. In a recent study, 80% of young e-cigarette users said they used e-cigarettes “because they come in flavors I like.” And 96% of Wisconsin middle schoolers say they probably wouldn’t try an e-cigarette if it wasn’t flavored.

In Wisconsin, 9% of middle schoolers have tried electronic tobacco products at least once, and about 3% of middle schoolers are current users. Those numbers jump by the time kids reach high school. Today, 29% of high schoolers have tried e-cigarettes, and 13% consider themselves current users.

What to Look For:

  • E-cigarettes come in a wide range of shapes and sizes.
  • Many disposable e-cigs look like high-tech cigarettes. Colorful designs are common.
  • Rechargeable e-cigarettes can be the size of a fountain pen or larger. Most have a mouthpiece and many feature exposed e-liquid tanks.
  • Flavored “e-juice” containers include small plastic or glass vials and eye-dropper bottles.
  • Some users keep an e-cig kit or accessories case for their pen, liquid and charger.

Some of the Health Risks:

E-cigarettes are so new, doctors and scientists are still studying the risks. And that means a lot of kids are using tobacco products that aren’t fully understood. Here are some things we do know:

  • E-liquids can contain heavy metals like nickel, tin, and lead.
  • Diacetyl, a flavoring found in many e-liquids, has been linked to lung disease.
  • Nicotine can harm the parts of the brain that control attention and learning.
  • Aerosols contain super fine particles that can irritate the eyes, throat, and lungs.
  • Teens who use e-cigarettes are three times as likely to become cigarette smokers.
  • No matter how it is delivered, nicotine is addictive.
  • E-cigarette devices have been known to explode, causing severe injuries.
  • Ingesting the nicotine in e-liquids can cause vomiting, confusion, cardiac arrhythmia, coma, and death.

You Can Tell Your Kids:

If you think everybody’s vaping, you’re wrong. E-cigarette use is on the rise, but kids often over-estimate just how popular tobacco is among their peers. Vape shops, ads, and “cloud chasing” videos (usually posted by e-cig users doing vapor cloud tricks) can encourage kids to believe every middle and high schooler is vaping. But the fact is 87% of Wisconsin teens aren’t using e-cigarettes. Remind your child that most Wisconsin teens choose to live tobacco free.

Sweet flavors don’t make e-cigarettes safe. Candy and fruit flavors can give the impression that e-cigarettes are a safe alternative to conventional cigarettes. But e-cigarette users are still at risk for some serious health effects, including addiction, exposure to harmful chemicals and aerosol particulates, and damage to the parts of the brain that control attention and learning.

Nobody knows all the damage e-cigarettes can do. These new electronic tobacco products are so new, science hasn’t had enough time to study all of the health risks or understand what long-term use can do to your body. Until they do, vapers are taking a big gamble with an addictive, potentially deadly product.

E-liquid isn’t just “flavored water.” It’s dangerous. It’s natural to believe a product that’s sold in stores must be safe. But e-liquids that contain nicotine are potentially poisonous. In children, nicotine poisoning can occur with exposure to as little as 1 ml (about 20 drops) of 36mg/mL e-liquid. From 2010 to 2015, calls to Wisconsin poison control because of e-cigs increased 1,650%. And since e-liquid production and marketing aren’t currently regulated by the FDA, manufacturers don’t have to list their ingredients or ensure products are tested and accurately labeled.

E-cigarettes can be a stepping stone to addiction. Teens who use e-cigarettes are three times as likely to become cigarette smokers. And the nicotine in e-cigarettes interferes with healthy brain development, helping to form pathways of addiction in the brain that could lead to the use of other drugs.

Resources

Learn more about e-cigarettes and the harm they can do:

 

Smokeless Dip, Snus & Chew

Smokless tobacco products

Smokless tobacco products

 

Smokless tobacco products

 

Smokless tobacco products

 

Every year, half a million kids in the U.S.—mostly boys and young men—try smokeless tobacco for the first time. Whether they’re tucking a pinch or a pouch of flavored tobacco behind their lip or chewing on a wad of shredded tobacco leaves, the results are the same. Nicotine and other dangerous, cancer-causing chemicals are released into the bloodstream, increasing users’ risk of addiction, illness, and even death. Usually, for less than the cost of a pack of cigarettes.

The number of Wisconsin kids who’ve tried smokeless products rises quickly as children get older, from just 2% of middle schoolers to 9% of high schoolers. Similarly, about 1% of middle schoolers and 4% of high schoolers are current users.

What to Look For:

  • Dip (loose ground tobacco) is usually packaged in round, brightly-colored tins.
  • Snus (pouches of ground tobacco) comes in small tins and plastic dispensers, like mints and gum.
  • Chewing tobacco (shredded tobacco leaf) is sold in paper pouches.
  • Dip and chew users may keep other containers around to spit their tobacco juice into.

Some of the Health Risks:

We all know how dangerous cigarettes and secondhand smoke can be, so it’s easy to assume that smokeless products are safe. But dip, snus, and chew contain many of the same toxic chemicals found in cigarettes, including arsenic, lead, formaldehyde, and 30 known cancer causers. Then there’s nicotine; an addictive additive that can change the way a young brain develops, especially the parts of the brain that control attention and learning. Other risks include:

  • Addiction
  • Tooth loss and decay
  • Mouth sores, leathery patches, and gum disease
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Cancers of the mouth, throat, stomach, and pancreas

You Can Tell Your Kids:

Smokeless products are not okay, even if some athletes use them. Athletes may do extraordinary things, but they’re still just people. Which means they’re vulnerable to addiction and unhealthy choices just like the rest of us. Smokeless products are addictive, carcinogenic, and deadly—even for athletes.

Flavored smokeless tobacco isn’t “better for you.” Flavors like mint, cherry, vanilla, and sour apple can give the impression that flavored dip, chew, and snus are safe or mild versions of conventional tobacco. But those flavors just help mask the harsh taste of tobacco and the thousands of chemicals in dip, snus, and chew.

Smokeless doesn’t make it harmless. No tobacco product is safe. Dip contains more than 4,000 chemicals; at least 30 of them can cause cancer. And don’t forget, the addictive nicotine in smokeless products can change the way a young brain grows and may harm a child’s impulse control and ability to learn.

Most kids don’t use smokeless tobacco products. Kids may see the variety of dip, snus, and chew in stores around their community and assume using smokeless tobacco is a popular choice. Remind your child that most Wisconsin youth choose to live tobacco free. In fact, 96% of Wisconsin high schoolers aren’t using dip, chew, or snus.

Resources

Learn more about smokeless tobacco products and the harm they can do:

Last Revised: October 23, 2017