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Why Has Use of Cigars Increased Among Black Kids?

By Victor Trammell

As it pertains to tobacco use among black youths, a recent report gave some good news and some bad news.

This report from the Huffington Post was written by LaTroya Hester, the communications director of a public health organization called the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network (NAATPN). The NAATPN is based in Durham, North Carolina.

Hester’s report was based on data derived from a study conducted by the Campaign For Tobacco Free Kids. Here is the good news about Hester’s Huffington Post report. “Cigarette use has dropped among youth and minority populations [in America],” Hester wrote.

However, this story based on reality has more unfortunate bad news in it than good news. A portion of Hester’s report reads as follows:

“Current research shows that 11% of African American high school students smoke cigars. Part of the problem is that when most African American youth think of cigars, they picture large stogies puffed by old men in smoky gentlemen’s clubs. They often do not consider the slim, grape flavored cigarillo they’ve been sharing between friends to be in the same category. As is often the case, issues that are highly prevalent among minority youth are quick to become low priority until the consequences begin to bubble above the surface. As anti-tobacco groups hammer down on cigarettes to protect young people from adopting the addiction, tobacco companies have been happy to see cigars flying under the radar.” (The Huffington Post)

Increased recreational  marijuana use is another reason why cigar consumption is up among black youths. What minors do is buy the cigars (or get someone who is 18 or over to buy some for them) and split the cigars so they can dump the tobacco filling. They replace that filling with marijuana.

A number of U.S. states (such as Colorado and Washington) have already legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. This has led to an increased amount of young people embracing the legal usage of a substance, which was forbidden for years.

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