Young People Giving up Cigarettes for a Good Chew and a Hit from the Hookah

Monday, December 17, 2012

Young Californians aren’t smoking cigarettes as much as they used to, but they’ve replaced that nasty habit with increased use of chewing tobacco, snuff, hookahs and cigarillos.

They are also developing a fondness for snus (tobacco you stash under your lip), and dissolvable orbs and strips, according to a December report on tobacco use and promotion by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

All of them are health hazards.

Fewer teens smoke in California than any other state. Smoking among people 18-24 years old has dropped from 22.4% in 2001 to 14.6% in 2011, although that age group still has the highest rate of smoking in the state. High school student smoking rates dropped by more than one-third between 2000 and 2010, to 13.8%.

But between 2004 and 2010, smokeless tobacco use among high schoolers increased from 3.1% to 3.9%. Hookah smoking has jumped about 40% among all Californians, led by one in four 18-to-24-year-olds who have done it at least once. Hookahs are Middle Eastern-style water pipes with one or more flexible tubes for drawing smoke and are popular social centerpieces in cafes and lounges.

The $77.1 million California market for smokeless products in 2001 nearly tripled to $210.9 million in 2011.

The tobacco and advertising industries are paying attention. The tobacco industry spent $444.3 billion on promotion of smokeless tobacco products in 2010. Point-of-sale smokeless advertising increased 56% between 2007 and 2010 as sales of non-cigarette tobacco and nicotine products in California rose dramatically. Although it is difficult to gauge their target audience, 32.3% of California stores that sell tobacco had at least one child-aligned cigarette advertisement less than three feet above the floor.

 –Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Hookah Smoking on the Rise, Say California Health Officials (by Ronnie Cohen, Reuters)

Sales of Smokeless Tobacco Products Jump in State, Report Says (by Anna Gorman, Los Angeles Times)

State Health Officer’s Report on Tobacco Use and Promotion in California (by California Department of Public Health) (pdf)

FDA Review of Tobacco Products Grinds to a Halt  (by Michael Felberbaum, Associated Press)

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