Americans turn less to cigarettes, but find substitutes

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - While more Americans than ever before are quitting their cigarette habit, a growing number are also turning to large cigars and pipes, suggesting that gains in curbing tobacco consumption may be more elusive than previously thought.

The findings were outlined in a report released on Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overall consumption of smoked tobacco products declined 27.5 percent between 2000 and 2011, but use of noncigarette smoked tobacco products increased by a whopping 123 percent in that same time.

One major culprit for the trend is likely price, particularly in the latter part of the decade as Americans grappled with a weak economy and high unemployment.

In 2009, a federal excise tax was enacted and as a result, pipe tobacco, loose tobacco and cigars were taxed at a significantly lower rate than cigarettes. Responses by the tobacco industry to the tax and resulting price shifts have further compounded the problem, according to the CDC.

"Cigarette-like (tobacco products), formerly thought of as small cigars, have been modified slightly by the manufacturers .... so that they can be taxed at the lower rate," said Terry Pechacek, CDC's Associate director of science, and an author on the report.

As a result, such small cigars which resemble cigarettes are far cheaper, selling for about $1.40 per pack versus $5, Pechacek said. Younger consumers in particular are responding to the shift in pricing and consumption patterns.

"The rise in cigar smoking, which other studies show is a growing problem among youth and young adults, is cause for alarm," said Tim McAfee, director of CDC's Office on Smoking and Health.

McAfee cited a recent report from the U.S. surgeon general, which showed that nearly all smokers start before they are 26 years old, making young consumers the most important target for stopping the epidemic.

The CDC said tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States, killing nearly half a million Americans each year.

Health issues linked to smoking include heart and lung disease, several types of cancer, reproductive effects and other chronic diseases, costing the taxpayer $193 billion annually in direct health care expenses.

(Reporting by Salimah Ebrahim; Editing by Michele Gershberg; Desking by Andrew Hay)

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • 1 killed, 2 wounded in South Side shootings
    1 killed, 2 wounded in South Side shootings

    One man was killed, and two others were wounded in shootings Tuesday afternoon and evening in the city's Park Manor, Bronzeville and Morgan Park neighborhoods.

  • City lists 'problem landlords' on website
    City lists 'problem landlords' on website

    Chicago's Building Department published its first "problem landlords" list on its website Monday night in an attempt to crack down and publicly shame apartment building owners into providing tenants with basic services such as heat, hot water and working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

  • Chicago brothers who infiltrated cartel given 14 years in prison
    Chicago brothers who infiltrated cartel given 14 years in prison

    After more than six years in protective custody, the twin brothers from Chicago's West Side didn't look the part of hard-core drug traffickers when they walked into a public courtroom Tuesday for the first time since flipping on the notoriously violent Sinaloa cartel.

  • Emanuel, mayoral challengers face off for first time
    Emanuel, mayoral challengers face off for first time

    The first face-to-face meeting of the Chicago mayor’s race featured Rahm Emanuel offering a measured defense of his first term against a barrage of attacks from challengers who assailed his record on neighborhood development and crime and even his temperament.

  • 'Ghostbusters' reboot scares up cast: Wiig, McCarthy, McKinnon, Jones
    'Ghostbusters' reboot scares up cast: Wiig, McCarthy, McKinnon, Jones

    Director Paul Feig's "Ghostbusters" reboot has found its leading ladies. Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon are in talks to star in the Sony comedy about a quartet of paranormal exterminators, The Times has confirmed.

  • CTA rider robbed at Taser-point: police
    CTA rider robbed at Taser-point: police

    A 23-year-old CTA rider was threatened with a Taser and robbed of her cellphone Friday as she transferred from the Red Line to the Green Line at the Roosevelt "L" station, police said Tuesday.

Comments
Loading