Tobacco Companies Target Black Teens With Candy-Flavored Cigars

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has launched a high-profile campaign against flavored e-cigarettes that are all the rage in suburban, often white, schools. In December, the surgeon general issued an advisory with tips for parents and teachers to combat what the government has termed an epidemic of youth vaping. But lost amid the e-cig furor, another killer that's been around a lot longer has gotten scant attention: flavored small cigars, also known as cigarillos, a favored source of nicotine for black teens, according to recent report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some 3 million teens vape, according to the CDC. Their use of e-cigs accounts for a big chunk of the industry, which Wells Fargo puts at $2.5 billion. Teen vaping, a relatively new market, has been soaring, jumping 78 percent in just the year from 2017 to 2018, according to the FDA. But the even bigger $3 billion cigar market popular among black teens is also growing.

“If you want to protect kids, if you want to protect black kids, then you have to address little cigars,” said Delmonte Jefferson, executive director of the National African-American Tobacco Prevention Network. A campaign the group runs against little cigars, reads “Same gun, different bullet.” The ad explains that little cigars are inhaled unlike so-called premium cigars used at “all-white gentlemen's clubs” and just one cigar can contain as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes.


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