Cigar, Cigarillo, and Little Cigar Use Among Canadian Youth

Cigar, cigarillo, and little cigar use represent an underserved domain in youth tobacco control. Prevention efforts have typically focused on preventing youth from using cigarettes, despite evidence that a substantial number of youth do use these alternative forms of tobacco. For instance, 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) data in the United States identified that 10.9% of high school students reported current use of cigars, cigarillos, or little cigars.

Girl hiding a cigarette and a pink lighter behind her back

Girl hiding a cigarette and a pink lighter behind her back

Data from 29,296 students in grades 9–12 as part of the 2008–2009 Youth Smoking Survey were used to examine the prevalence of cigar, cigarillo, and little cigar use and factors associated with their use. Among Canadian youth in grades 9–12, 12.9% reported current use of cigarillos or little cigars, and 8.1% reported current use of cigars. The characteristics of youth most likely to use either cigars or cigarillos and little cigars were being male, being in grade 11 or 12, being a daily or occasional cigarette smoker, having more than $20 of weekly spending money, and having ever tried flavored tobacco. Our findings suggest that cigars, cigarillos, and little cigars are used by a substantial number of Canadian youth, many of whom do not smoke cigarettes. As such, current national prevalence estimates of youth smoking may be underestimated, and existing tobacco control prevention programs and policies may be overlooking a large population of at-risk youth.

Available evidence suggests that male youth are more likely to use these products compared to female youth. It has also been suggested that a major factor contributing to cigar, cigarillo, and little cigar use is flavored tobacco, especially since youth cigar smokers commonly state that smell and taste are traits that attract them to cigars.

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