Data from the yearly Wisconsin Synar survey shows that little cigarillos are increasingly being sold to kids, even as the number of retailers selling any tobacco product to youth has gone down slightly.
The Synar survey, which monitors the percentage of retailers across the state that sell tobacco to minors shows that the overall sales rate of tobacco products has remained stable at 5.5% in 2019 (down from 5.8% in 2019). However, the product most often sold to youth was cigarillos for the second year in a row (7.4% in 2018 and 7% in 2019). Members of the 7C’s Health Initiative expressed concern over that trend.
“Seeing that retailers are selling cigarillos more often to minors is concerning, especially since we know these products are so attractive to young people,” said Betty Nigh, RN BSN, Vernon County Health Department. “Many of these cigarillos can be bought for as cheap as three for 99 cents, and unlike cigarettes, they come in candy and fruit flavors like Grape and Cherry, making them more appealing to youth.”
In addition to their cheaper prices and kid-friendly flavors, the 7C’s Health Initiative noted that, unlike cigarettes, these products don’t need to be displayed behind the counter. In fact, many times they’re placed near candy and snacks.
While cigarillos may be flavored and displayed differently than conventional cigarettes, they carry the same health harms. Cigarillos contain similar and sometimes higher levels of nicotine than cigarettes. Cigar smoke also contains higher levels of carbon monoxide, ammonia, and tar than cigarette smoke.
“Any of these are reason enough for concern, but cigarillos are also increasing health disparities since they’re often sold aggressively in communities that are already more impacted by tobacco,” Nigh said. “Single cigarillos are sold at 50% of tobacco retailers in Vernon County making them readily accessible in all of our communities.”
The 7C’s Health Initiative encouraged tobacco retailers in Wisconsin to visit WITobaccoCheck.org to take advantage of free training to help them avoid future underage sales. “We know retailers want to do the right thing and help their community, and the training at WITobaccoCheck.org can help them do just that.”
For more on local tobacco prevention and control efforts, visit the 7C’s website at www.7CsHealthInitiative.com.
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