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CDC: Drop in cigarette consumption offset by increases in other forms of smoked tobacco

Loopholes in tax structure, classification system are possible causes, according to the CDC

Sharp increases in total adult consumption of pipe tobacco (used for roll-your-own cigarettes) and cigarette-like cigars since 2008 have offset declines in total cigarette consumption, according to a new report from the .  

Although total cigarette consumption continued an 11-year downward trend with a 2.5 percent decline from 2010 to 2011, dramatic increases in use of non-cigarette smoked tobacco products have slowed the long decline in overall consumption of smoked tobacco products. 

“The rise in cigar smoking, which other studies show is a growing problem among youth and young adults, is cause for alarm,” said Tim McAfee, director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health.  “The Surgeon General’s Report released this past March shows that getting young people to either quit smoking or never start smoking is the key to ending the tobacco epidemic, because 99 percent of all smokers start before they’re 26 years old.”

From 2000 to 2011, the largest increases were in consumption of pipe tobacco (482 percent) and large cigars (233 percent). 

The increase in cigars was due largely to tobacco manufacturers adding weight to many small cigars so they can be classified as large cigars and avoids higher taxes and regulation, while at the same time retaining a size and shape very similar to cigarettes.

According to the report, total consumption of all smoked tobacco products (including cigarettes, roll-your-own tobacco, pipe tobacco and cigars) declined by 27.5 percent between 2000 and 2011.

However, decline was minimal (0.8 percent) between 2010 and 2011.  

Despite the overall decline, the consumption of non-cigarette smoked tobacco products increased by 123 percent.

The study, “Consumption of Cigarettes and Combustible Tobacco—United States, 2000-2011,” published in the early August Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, uses Treasury Department data to calculate consumption for all forms of smoked tobacco products.  

CDC had previously not calculated consumption estimates, and depended upon consumption data published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which USDA stopped reporting in 2007.

-The Office of Communication at the CDC contributed to this report

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