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Smokers Drop Pricey Cigarettes for Cheaper Alternatives: CDC
Date:8/2/2012

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Aug. 2 (HealthDay News) -- With cigarette costs rising, more smokers are turning to cigars or "rolling their own" to cut costs, suggests a new U.S. government report that shows a substantial increase in the use of non-cigarette tobacco products.

Cigarette smoking continues to decline, according to the report released Thursday.

A modest 2.5 percent drop in cigarette use occurred between 2010 and 2011, but use of other tobacco products jumped 17 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"What we have seen is the steady progress in reducing the consumption of the most dangerous forms of tobacco, which are inhaled combustible products, stalled because there had been a substitute of roll-your-own and cigarette-like cigars that have increased in recent years due to loopholes in the tax structure," said Terry Pechacek, associate director for science in the CDC's Office of Smoking and Health.

"Smokers overall and youth in particular are price-sensitive and respond to the availability of something that is cheaper that fills their desire for a smokable product," he added.

Pechacek noted that small cigars that look like cigarettes except for a dark paper label have been reformulated to bypass the tax law that covers cigarettes. "These are available for like $1.40 a pack," he said. Nationwide, a pack of cigarettes averages $5.98, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

These products are also not subject to U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations on flavoring and labeling products "light" or "low tar" as cigarettes are, but are just as "lethal and dangerous as cigarettes," Pechacek said.

The findings were published in the CDC's Aug. 3 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Since 2008, the dramatic increase in cigar smoking and the use of pipe tobacco for roll-your-own cigarettes has offset t
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