A sweet treat that can kill - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Candy cigars: A sweet treat that can kill

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Candy-flavored cigars appear on display at a custom tobacco shop in Albany, N.Y., Friday, May 31, 2013. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, FILE) Candy-flavored cigars appear on display at a custom tobacco shop in Albany, N.Y., Friday, May 31, 2013. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, FILE)

Chocolate, candy apple, cherry all sound like great flavors for a candy or gum. Instead, they are some of the top choices of "little cigars" used by middle school and high school students.

Unlike candy flavored cigarettes that were banned in 2009 by the Food and Drug Administration, little cigars are not taxed or regulated in the same manner. They are just as addicting!

Critics, including the American Cancer Society and many other anti-smoking organizations, claim the tobacco industry is out to "recruit" new young smokers by giving them a product that literally tastes like candy. The tobacco industry denies the claim.

A little cigar is approximately the same size and shape as a cigarette. It, however, is wrapped in brown paper that contains some tobacco leaf. Some little cigars have a filter. The American Lung Association calls them "cigarettes in cigar clothing."

Little cigar sales have more than tripled since 1997 according to a researcher for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released alarming numbers Tuesday. One in 30 middle and high school students said they smoke the little cigars. Among high school students, the number is one in 12. CDC director Dr. Tom Fried en says, "The so-called small cigars look like cigarettes, addict as much as cigarettes and they kill like cigarettes."

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