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Teens increasingly drawn to cigars; health groups fight for anti-tobacco funding

By Tom Precious

ALBANY – As health groups fight to get funding restored to reducing smoking rates in New York, a national tobacco watchdog group reported this morning that cigar smoking among teenagers has exploded over the past decade.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said high school students are now twice as likely – 13.1 percent to 6.6 percent – to report they have smoked cigars in the past month as adults. Among people between 18 and 24 years old, the rate stood at 15.9 percent.

The increase comes, the Washington-based group said, as a result of marketing campaigns by cigar companies offering cheap and sweet cigars that have been major lures for teens. The group faulted a loophole in which the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate cigars and so the industry, unlike cigarette makers, is permitted to bypass a 2009 law banning candy and fruit-flavored cigarettes.

While smoking rates have seen overall declines in the past decade, the group said cigar sales have doubled in the past 10 years.

The report's timing is certain to be used by tobacco critics in the budget battles underway at the Capitol. In New York, a coalition of health groups are pushing back to a plan by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reduce funding for a range of public health programs, including tobacco cessation efforts. The resolution will likely be known next week if the state budget, as officials hope, is passed by the end of the week.

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About Politics Now

Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

rmccarthy@buffnews.com


Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

tprecious@buffnews.com


Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri | jterreri@buffnews.com


Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski | jzremski@buffnews.com

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