Cigar use has increased among Philly teens in recent years and now exceeds cigarette use, health officials determined in a report.
According to the report by the city's Department of Public Health (PDPH), 16.5 percent of Philadelphia teens reported smoking cigarettes, cigars or smokeless tobacco in 2015; and almost 28 percent used either those products or electronic vapor products. However -- despite the downtrend in cigarette use among teens -- there has been a spike in vaping and cigar smoking, the report found.
Philadelphia’s Commissioner of Public Health Dr. Thomas A. Farley says the "shift away from cigarettes" is being caused by cheap tobacco products that are "marketed in ways specifically designed to attract our kids."
“Little cigars are often sold in packs of four or five for 99 cents in flavors like watermelon, fruit-punch, and mint-chocolate chip and can set our children up for a lifetime of nicotine addiction,” Farley said.
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In a 2016 Surgeon General report cited by the previous study, it showed a sharp increase in electronic vapor products from 2011 to 2015 -- going from 1.5 percent to 16 percent. Electronic vapor products also surpassed the use of conventional cigarettes among high school students, the report said.
Other key findings include Philadelphia having the highest rate in the state of illegal tobacco sales to minors, more than double that of the next highest region.
To help reduce tobacco use among teens, PDPH created regulations that ban new tobacco retailers near schools and limit the density of tobacco permits by neighborhood, Farley said.
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