By Randy Dotinga
"Adolescents may be misguided about the safety of cigar use," said study co-author Dr. Adam Goldstein, from the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
"Many still believe that risks of cigars can be mitigated by not inhaling or inhaling less," he said in a university news release. "But we know that cigar smoking can cause serious harm, including cancer and heart disease."
The researchers surveyed more than 1,100 U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 by phone, and told them about three types of warning labels that appear on cigars: "Cigar smoking can cause cancers of the mouth and throat, even if you do not inhale"; "Cigar smoking can cause lung cancer and heart disease"; and "Cigars are not a safe alternative to cigarettes."
More than three in four of the teens thought "Cigar smoking can cause lung cancer and heart disease" was "very believable." But, only 53 percent thought "Cigar smoking can cause cancers of the mouth and throat, even if you do not inhale" was "very believable." And only half said "Cigars are not a safe alternative to cigarettes" was "very believable."
While cigars may seem like an unlikely form of smoking for kids to embrace, research has shown that one in 12 teens smokes them.
"This is the first research that has been done to track how young people perceive cigar warning labels," said study lead author Sarah Kowitt, a doctoral candidate at UNC.
The study was published Dec. 12 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.