Candy-flavored cigarettes get banned for kids, but what about cigarillos?

Candy-flavored cigarettes have long been the bane of parents and antismoking advocates. Their allure to youths was obvious -- they had the tang of tobacco behind such flavorings as chocolate, vanilla, and lime. This week, the Food and Drug Administration's ban on such tobacco products takes effect -- but will it keep children safe from the marketing pull of cigarettes that taste like treats?

Some tobacco companies may be trying to circumvent the ban, says the antitobacco group Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. How can they do that? By marketing flavored cigarillos and other products that aren't strictly classified as cigarettes. "Some of them look just like cigarettes and are marketed and packaged like cigarettes," says CTFK spokesman Joel Spivak. Yet they're not cigarettes, he says, because "they're wrapped in tobacco, not in cigarette paper."The FDA isn't unaware of such products and is considering options for regulating flavored-tobacco products other than cigarettes, as well as menthol cigarettes, its statement notes. There are signs that the FDA is already clamping down on such other flavored-tobacco products, The New York Times reports; one store in Alabama told the paper that FDA agents had dropped in and told the store that the ban includes cigarillos.

Cigarette companies have long come under fire for marketing campaigns that attract children. Remember Joe Camel? That cartoon figure (above), wearing sunglasses and driving sports cars, was a lightning rod for antismoking advocates, who said the character appealed to youths, back in the early 1990s. And flavored cigarettes were in the news in 2006, when R.J. Reynolds entered into a consent decree with 39 U.S. state attorneys general to halt colorful advertising for cigarettes with such flavors as Kauai Kolada and Twista Lime.

The danger of such products is their allure to young taste buds. The FDA cites studies that 17-year-old smokers are three times as likely to use such cigarettes as smokers over 25. And flavored cigarillos and other tobacco products may have the same pull on young people. "It's one of those things," says Spivak at the CTFK, "that if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a duck."

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