Youth Coalition Address Dangers of Cigars

Members of the Talbot County Youth Coalition are participating in a statewide program entitled “Maryland Youth Movement Against Tobacco – Community Action Program, sponsored by the Center for Health Promotion and Education, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The goal of this project is to foster meaningful youth-led community action in tobacco use prevention activities and programs that deglamorize and reduce youth tobacco use, reduce youth exposure to secondhand smoke and encourage and increase youth community action, positive development, civic involvement, leadership and decision making responsibilities.

Four members of the Youth Coalition, Jazmine Gibson, Emily Merriken, Rachael Whiting and Morgan Whiting along with Gary Pearce, Executive Director of Talbot Partnership, attended a “Teens Rejecting Abusive Smoking Habits” conference in Baltimore on February 12 where they learned about the growth in cigar smoking by underage youth. Little cigars and cigarillos are sold individually for as little as .80 each and in a variety of flavors , including cherry, chocolate, vanilla, peach, rum, grape, and sour apple. A recent survey showed that 7.1% on Talbot County middle and 17.4% of Talbot County High School students currently smoke cigars.

The tobacco industry spends more than $12.4 billion per year – over $34.1 million a day – marketing its deadly products in the U.S. alone, much of these reaching kids. The group is concerned with the health consequences of cigar smoking. Specifically, cigar smoke, like cigarette smoke, contains toxic and cancer-causing chemicals that are harmful to both smokers and nonsmokers.  Cigar smoking causes oral cavity cancers (cancers of the lip, tongue, mouth, and throat) and cancers of the larynx (voice box), esophagus, and lung , and all cigar and cigarette smokers, whether or not they inhale, directly expose their lips, mouth, tongue, throat, and larynx to tobacco smoke and its toxic and cancer-causing chemicals.

The Youth Coalition has met with members of the Health Department and County Council and is proposing three recommendations to address this problem:

1.    Eliminate the sale of individual cigars and require that they be packaged in minimum quantities of no less than 5.
2.    Eliminate “flavored” cigars which are targeted to youth.
3.    Raise the tax rate on cigars.

The Youth Coalition is a community effort that encourages and supports substance -free youth. The programs stress youth community development and personal growth. The Youth Coalition is looking for new members interested in taking a leadership role in the community, especially younger members to carry the group forward. Youth ages 13 through 18 are invited to come see what the Youth Coalition is all about. If you are interested in helping to plan future youth programs and  events, please contact Talbot Partnership at 410.819.8067 or gpearce@talbotpartnership.org.”

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