(Photo : Reuters)
Cigarette sales went down by a wide margin since the Congress passed a landmark law in 2009, but young smokers are still being attracted to tobacco through flavored cigars, The New York Times reports.
The 2009 Family Prevention and Tobacco Controlled Act banned flavored cigarettes except menthol to discourage youngsters under 18 years old from smoking. The landmark law also regulated the color and design of cigarette packaging, while also requiring companies to display health warnings.
Federal data reveals that cigarette sales went down by almost 33 percent over the last decade. However, sales of alternatives such as cigars significantly grew over the same time period. The data also showed that young smokers are buying flavored varieties of cigars.
The rise in flavored cigars sales could be attributed to the loophole in the law, which only regulates flavored cigarettes without mentioning flavored cigars and other tobacco products. These alternatives are also attracting youngsters not only with flavor choices, but also with cheap prices.
"The 20th century was the cigarette century, and we worked very hard to address that. Now the 21st century is about multiple tobacco products. They're cheap. They're flavored. And some of them you can use anywhere," said Gregory Conolly, the director of the Harvard University Center for Global Tobacco Control.
Under the 2009 law passed by the Congress, the U.S. Food And Drug Administration is responsible for regulating other tobacco products, prompting several agencies to ask the FDA to take action.
In the past few weeks, the FDA sent letters to several tobacco companies, warning them against the practice of disguising roll-your-own-tobacco as pipe tobacco to avoid taxes and responsibilities mandated by law.
Mitchell Zeller, the director of FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, admitted that the emergence of new tobacco products, like the now-popular flavored cigars, means a new approach is needed to address several issues.
"What we've seen in the past 10 years is this remarkable transformation of the marketplace. There are products being sold today - unregulated products - that literally did not exist 10 years ago," Zeller said.