Your Teen

4 Dangerous Teen Trends Parents Should Know

2:00

When kids get together they not only share the latest gossip or fashions, but also dangerous trends.

Children in middle school and high school are sharing videos of kids their age doing incredibly perilous activities and many times, their parents don’t have a clue.

Today, parents need to know what kinds of influences their kids are being inundated with. The types of trends that are gaining in popularity aren’t necessarily the ones that your child will easily divulge.

As the school year reconnects students and introduces new peers into the mix, pre-teens and teens-in search of recognition-are either doing or considering doing some seriously stupid things.

We know that kids in this age group act out impulsively with little thought given to consequences. There’s a scientific reason for this type of behavior.

Brain scans reveal that the frontal lobes, used in making critical and objective decisions, do not mature until about age 25.

Since the brain is still developing, choices teens make can be strongly influenced by peer pressure, a need to stand out among others and intense emotional feelings. A pre-teen or adolescent’s decision making may become overwhelmed by their immature circuitry.

While you may think your child would never do something truly dangerous, he or she may surprise you.

Here are four popular trends that parents need to be aware of:

The Fire Challenge: This one is particularly dangerous. Teens are taking the “fire challenge.” They are dousing themselves in flammable liquids, lighting it and — in theory —extinguishing it before being seriously injured, while recording the act and then sharing the video on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Yes, our kids are recording themselves being engulfed in flames, flailing and screaming in pain. 

There are thousands of the videos circulating and injuries have included severe burns and hospitalization. Officials around the country, along with the American Burn Association, are asking parents to warn their child about the game.

Many parents just can’t believe their child would actually do something like this, but even “good” kids are taking the challenge. Be sure and talk to your child about these types of videos and persuade them not to share or promote them with friends.

Synthetic Pot or Spice: Also called “Scooby snacks,” “K2,” or any of half a dozen other names, teens might consider this an “alternative” to pot, but it’s dangerously more potent. These “synthetic cannabinoids” consist of dozens of chemicals manufactured in China, Eastern Europe and American labs.

The drug looks like potpourri or lawn clippings. The pieces have been sprayed or soaked with a solution of designer chemicals.

 Because of the popularity of these drugs, there has been an explosion of ER visits related to Spice or K2 over the past few years. There’s been a reported death in California of a 19 year –old that took one after he took just one hit of Spice. So if you hear your kids talking about it, know that despite the name, the only thing that is being cooked here is your teen’s brain.  

Dirty Sprite: Although this may sound like a soda that’s got dirt on it- it’s much more insidious than that. When you hear a reference to “Dirty Sprite,”. Kids are talking about the latest teen party drink. It’s also called “Drank” or “”Lean.” It’s a combination of Sprite, candy (usually Jolly Ranchers) and prescription drugs or codeine cough syrup.

There are YouTube videos of teens creating the concoction, and even sweatshirts with the recipe printed on it.

Experts warn that Dirty Sprite can be addictive and tell parents that it’s best to keep prescription meds locked up, as well as discarding ones that have expired. If you think that it won’t help to talk to your kids about prescription drug abuse, you’re wrong. Children who learn a lot about the risks of drugs are up to 50 percent less likely to use them, according to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

Texting and Walking or Driving:  Every year a new batch of teens is behind the wheel, especially once school begins.  Never stop reminding your teen of the dangers of texting and driving. They may roll their eyes or give you the typical “I get it mom (dad)” response, but repeated warnings stick in the mind. A recent study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health found that among teens, 25 percent reported responding to a text message at least once every time they drive, and 20 percent admitted to holding multi-message conversations.

Since videos are one way that other dangerous trends are spread, you can share more valuable videos by showing your teen stories that show the outcomes of teens’ texting and driving. They act as a third-party negotiator that makes the point clearly.

But perhaps the best type of parental influence is to just be a good role model. Sadly, adults are the biggest offenders of texting and driving. The “Do as I say, not as I do” attitude never brings about the desired results.

It's not just driving, either. Pedestrian injuries among 16 to 19-year olds have been increasing and the death rate among older teens is at least twice that of younger kids, according to SafeKids.com. It's unclear how many of those are because of mobile devices, but it's worth reminding your teen, "eyes up while walking." 

These are only four of the most dangerous trends this year. Kids are often too afraid to say no to their peers. As parents, it’s our job to teach them how and to report what they are seeing and hearing from other teens.

Research, open communication and reminders are essential to helping your child understand that these are not the sort of activities that will bring a brighter, happier or healthier future.

Source: Kavita Varma-White, http://www.today.com/parents/fire-challenge-spice-4-things-parents-should-get-clue-about-2D80183586

Your Teen

Summer Viruses Are Gearing Up

1.15 to read

Is it hot enough for you? Summer is here and will continue for a bit! Winter viruses are a distant memory (good bye flu and RSV), summer viruses which have been laying dormant are once again rearing their angry heads.

My office has been overflowing with really hot feverish kids of all ages.   I think the most likely culprit for much of the illness we are seeing right now is an enteroviral infection.  For some reason, it makes us parents feel better if we can “name that virus”, seems to help validate the illness.  

Enteroviral infections typically cause a non-specific febrile illness and with that you can see fairly high fever. In other words, just like the thermometer as summer heat arrives , 101-104 degrees of fever is not uncommon in these patients.  Remember the mantra, “fever is our friend”. I think it is almost worse to have a high fever in the summer as you are even more uncomfortable because it is already hot!

With that being said, if your child has a fever, don’t bundle them up with layers of clothes and blankets.  It is perfectly acceptable to have your younger child in a diaper and t-shirt, and older children can be in sundress or shorts rather than long sleeves and pants.  Bundling may increase the body temperature, even while you are driving to the doctor’s office. I often come into a room with a precious baby who is running a fever and they are wrapped in blankets, let them out! That hot body needs to breathe.

These summer enteroviruses may cause other symptoms as well as fever, so many kids right now seem to have sore throats and are also vomiting and having diarrhea. With this type of virus you also hear complaints of headaches and body aches (myalgias).  The kids I am seeing don’t look especially sick, but they do feel pretty yucky!  Just kind of wiped out, especially when their temps are up.

Besides treating their fevers, treat their other symptoms to make them comfortable.   If they are vomiting do not give them anything to eat and start giving them frequent sips of liquids such as Pedialyte (for the younger ones) and Gatorade or even Sprite or Ginger Ale. Small volumes are the key. 

I often use pieces of Popsicle or spoonfuls of a Slurpee to get fluids in kids. I always tried to pick drink colors for my own kids that were easier to clean up, in case they were going to vomit again, so no bright red!  The cold fluids may also help to soothe a sore throat. Once the vomiting has stopped, and it is usually no more than 12-24 hours, you can start feeding small amounts of food, but I would steer away from any dairy for a day or two. Again, nothing worse than thinking your child is over vomiting, fixing them I nice milkshake (comfort food) and seeing that thrown up!  Many a mother has come into my office wanting to strip after being vomited on, in a hot car no less.   I don’t think there is a car wash around that can fully get rid of that smell!

Most enteroviral infection last anywhere from 2-5 days. There are many different enteroviruses too, so you can get more than one infection during the season. This is not just a virus you see in children, so watch out parents you may succumb as well. Keep up good hand washing and your child should stay home from school, the pool, camp, day care etc. until they have been fever free for 24 hours. 

That’s your daily dose for today.  We’ll chat again tomorrow.

Your Teen

Obesity Study: Teen Diabetes and Heart Disease

2.00 to read

No parent likes to think that his or her child is skating on the edge of disaster. But if your teen is obese – 10 percent higher than what is recommended for their height and body type – they could be at a much higher risk for Type 2 diabetes, a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that half of American overweight teens have unhealthy blood pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar levels.

The rise in Type 2 diabetes among today’s youth is a real concern. The study showed that the percentage of adolescents who were diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes rose dramatically from 9 percent in 1999, to 21 percent in 2008. Pre-diabetics have higher than normal blood sugar levels, but not high enough to count as diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, is a condition that until recently doctors almost never saw in kids. But that was before the childhood obesity epidemic.

"That's a shockingly high figure that has dire implications to the health of this entire generation of children. This report really sounds the alarm," says David S. Ludwig, a childhood obesity expert at Children's Hospital in Boston.

For the study, researchers from the CDC focused on 3,383 adolescents ages 12 through 19, who were part of an intensive National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) that involves interviewing, weighing, measuring and performing medical tests on people across the country.

"It's one thing for an overweight or obese 55-year-old gaining an extra few pounds a year to develop diabetes at age 65 and then have a heart attack. It's a very different thing if the clock starts ticking at age 10," Ludwig says. "Children have so many more years to suffer from the consequences from these serious medical problems related to obesity.”

Diabetic teens will someday be diabetic adults struggling to keep their blood sugar levels under control. They will also be saddled with the possible results of long-term diabetes such as blindness, nerve damage, heart attacks and strokes. The good news is that parents can help their children turn things around now. Young children and teens can avoid these lifetime health problems by losing the extra pounds and getting fit before type 2 diabetes and other health problems have a chance to develop. 

Are parents getting the message that there is an obesity epidemic among this nation’s children? Not as many as should be.  Recent studies have shown that many parents of obese children do not think their child is overweight, particularly if one or both of the parents is obese. If parents don’t take action because they don’t recognize that their child is not merely a few pounds overweight, but clinically obese, their child will pay the price. If you need help figuring out where to start making lifestyle changes, the CDC has a guide to family healthy living on their website at www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating.

Type 2 diabetes and heart disease are not what parents want for their children. That’s why it’s so important that they pay attention to the health issues that obesity can cause. 

"The impact of the epidemic will continue to mount for many years as this generation of children carry these increased risk factors into adulthood and carry the burden of chronic disease for so many years longer than ever has been the case in history," Ludwig notes.

Source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/05/21/153030283/a-dire-sign-of-the-...

Your Teen

Stop Yelling at Your Teenager!

2.30 to read

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that anyone who has a child has yelled at him or her at one time or another. As parents, we’ve all lost our patience when we believe our child is misbehaving. If ever there is a time when parents and kids are standing at the crossroad of “Listen to me” and “I don’t need to”, it’s during the teenage years.

Tempers often ignite with harsh words being said.  

While you may be trying to make an important point, aggressive yelling and screaming only pushes your child away and may be doing much more harm than good according to a new study.

An analysis involving nearly 1,000 two-parent families and their adolescent children suggests that such harsh verbal lashings not only don't cut back on misbehavior, they actually promote it.

The end result: an uptick in the kind of adolescent rage, stubbornness and irritation that escalates rather than stops or prevents disobedience and conflict.

"Most parents who yell at their adolescent children wouldn't dream of physically punishing their teens," noted study author Ming-Te Wang, an assistant professor with the department of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education. "Yet, their use of harsh verbal discipline -- defined as shouting, cursing or using insults -- is just as detrimental to the long-term well-being of adolescents," he said.

"Our findings offer insight into why some parents feel that no matter how loud they shout, their teenagers do not listen," Wang added. "Indeed, not only does harsh verbal discipline appear to be ineffective at addressing behavior problems in youth, it actually appears to increase such behaviors."

Wang and his co-author, Sarah Kenny of the University of Michigan, report their findings in the current issue of the journal Child Development.

The researchers were particularly interested in kids between 13 and 14 years old so they focused on 976 primarily middle-class families in Pennsylvania with young adolescent offspring, all of whom were already participating in a long-term study exploring family interaction and adolescent development. A little more than half the families were white, while 40 percent were black.

The teen participants were asked to disclose recent behavioral issues such as in-school disturbances, stealing, fighting, damaging property or lying to their parents.

Their parents were asked how often they used harsh verbal discipline such as yelling, screaming, swearing or cursing at their child. Most importantly, if they called their child names like “dumb” or “lazy.”

The teens were also asked to what degree they felt “warmth” in their relationship with their parents. Researchers inquired about the amount of parental love, emotional support, affection and care the kids felt like they received from their parents. Both teens and parental depression were tracked.

The study points out that the children who were on the receiving end of the harsh verbal attacks experienced an increase in anger and a drop in inhibitions. Those two reactions prompted an intensification of the very things that parents were hoping to stop – such as lying, cheating, stealing or fighting.

"Parents who wish to modify their teenage children's behavior would do better by communicating with them on an equal level," Wang said, "and explaining their rationale and worries to them. Parenting programs are in a good position to offer parents insight into how behaviors they may feel the need to resort to, such as shouting or yelling, are ineffective and or harmful, and to offer alternatives to such behaviors."

Parents get frustrated with their children and vice versa. None of us behave perfectly all the time. Raising your voice because you are frustrated is one thing, name calling and screaming is quite another.

Imagine if you were at work and your boss screamed at you, called you names and cursed at you because he or she didn’t like how you did something. That may have actually happened to you – remember how you felt, or think about how you would feel. Humiliated, angry and sad are the most common reactions people have.  

Children are trying to find their way in life; parents are their guides. The next time you feel you’re on the verge of screaming or saying hurtful things to your child - walk away. Give yourself time to cool down and find a better way to communicate.

People say kids are resilient and get over things quickly. Many are able to bounce back when bad things happen, but that saying is too often used to excuse bad behavior on a parent’s part. If you’ve crossed the line with your child, say you’re sorry and come up with better ways to handle your frustration and anger.

Words and tone matter and the best teaching method is by example. You can help your child learn what love, patience, tolerance, compassion and respect are by being an example of those very qualities.

Source: Alan Moses, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/misc-kid-s-health-news-435/yelling-at-insulting-teens-can-backfire-on-parents-study-679863.html

Your Teen

Teens: Smoking Less, Texting While Driving More

2.00 to read

Teenagers are particularly vulnerable to emotional highs and lows and it typically shows in their behavior. Mixed in with lots of good days and excellent choices are temptations and decisions that put them at high risk for dangerous and sometimes deadly outcomes. It’s all part of the adolescent stage of life.

The good news is that a recent survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows teenagers are smoking cigarettes, using drugs, fighting and drinking alcohol less.

They’re also more likely to wear their seatbelts and helmets when they are supposed to.

On the flip side, more teens are obese and not getting enough sleep.

However, the most troubling new data shows that more than 40% of teenagers who drive cars admit to having texted or emailed while driving recently.

"We're encouraged to see that high school students are making better choices in some areas, like smoking, fighting, and alcohol use," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD.

However, other areas are concerning, he said, including the amount of time students spend glued to a screen instead of being active and a relatively new worry -- texting or emailing while driving.

Two in five of the 64% of students who reported driving in the 30 days before the survey also said they had been texting or emailing while behind the wheel, according to Stephanie Zaza, MD, director of the agency's Division of Adolescent and School Health.

"This puts them and other drivers at risk," she said.

On the whole though, there’s been really good progress made in teenager’s safety and health.

“I think it's really encouraging that we're seeing the lowest cigarette smoking rate ever,” Frieden told NBC News.

While smoking is the single biggest preventable cause of death in the United States — it causes heart disease, cancer and lung disease — teenagers face a more immediate risk. The single biggest killer of teens is motor vehicle crashes, causing 23% of deaths among 10 to 24-year-olds, CDC says.

Frieden believes that there’s a reason teens are buckling up more, whether they are behind the wheel or riding as a passenger.

“These positive trends didn't just happen. They're the result of hard work in communities all over the country — doing things like protecting kids from secondhand smoke, passing laws that are graduated driving laws so that kids don't drink and drive,” he said.

On the texting front, older teen drivers may do it more often. CDC found that 58% of high school seniors admitted to texting while driving.

Another positive statistic is that fewer teens are having sex. Unfortunately this good news is tempered with a down side. Teen sex is decreasing but so is condom use.

Just over a third of teenagers are currently sexually active.

Teens should use condoms even if they are also using other contraception, Frieden said. Pregnancy is a big worry, but STDs are even more likely, and Frieden fears "there may be a sense that, well, there's treatment for HIV so it's not such a terrible problem.”

There may be treatments for HIV but there’s no cure. People must take pills every single day for life and the virus can develop resistance to those medications.

The other long-term risks to health are poor diet and a lack of exercise. Teens are trying, but not reaching targets there, the survey indicates.

Results of this survey show that teens are making progress in some important safety and health related areas and, like most of us, need work in others. The fact that fewer teens are smoking is very good news. The increase in texting while driving is very troubling but not surprising considering that adults are doing the same thing.

Many of the safety and health issues teens are experiencing are not much different from what adults are doing and that’s where parents and guardians can make a big difference. Kids are much more likely to control their own behavior better when they see their parents doing the same.

Sources: Maggie Fox, http://www.nbcnews.com/health/kids-health/teen-smoking-sex-hit-new-lows-texting-fat-are-new-n129541

Your Teen

How Much Do Distractions Impact Novice Teen Drivers?

1.45 to read

A new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, confirms what common sense tells us we know anyway. Newly licensed teen drivers are more likely to have a crash or near miss when they are distracted by phones, eating or other objects in the car than more experienced drivers.

But that isn’t to say that adults who get distracted while driving are safe behind the wheel.

The researchers found experienced adults were more than twice as likely to crash or have a near miss when dialing a cell phone as when they did not dial and drive, but did not have an increased risk while engaging in other tasks secondary to driving. The study also points out that 10 percent of all U.S. drivers take their eyes off the road because they are doing something other than focusing on driving such as eating, texting, dialing a phone number, talking to another passenger, changing the radio station or searching for an object in the car.

Study co-author Bruce Simons-Morton of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development said the risks of distracted driving were greatest for newly licensed teen drivers, who were substantially more likely than adults to be involved in a crash or near miss while texting or engaging in tasks secondary to driving.

Novice teen drivers were

  • Eight times more likely to crash or have a near miss when dialing.
  • Seven to eight times more likely when reaching for a phone or other object.
  • Almost four times more likely when texting, and three times more likely when eating.

According to the study, talking on a cell phone did not actually increase the risk for a crash or accident among adults or teenage drivers. But, because you’ve got to reach for the phone to answer or dial a number – the risks increased greatly – during that time period.

The authors concluded that their results provide support for licensing programs that restrict electronic device use, particularly among novice drivers. They also stressed the need for education about the danger of distracted driving.

The bottom line is that when you or your teen are driving – pay attention to the road and other drivers. Your chances of getting safely to your destination increase substantially.

Source: http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2014/01/01/US-drivers-take-eyes-off-the-road-10-percent-of-the-time/UPI-23811388634974/#ixzz2pI410fHJ

Your Teen

U.S. Teen's Heart and Breathing Fitness Declines

2.00 to read

How’s your teen’s cardiorespiratory fitness? Cardiorespiratory fitness means the body’s heart and lungs function properly when participating in demanding exercise or activity. Cardiorespiratory fitness measures maximal oxygen uptake, also known as VO2max. This is the greatest capacity of the body to use oxygen during exercise.

A low level of cardiorespiratory endurance is associated with an elevated risk of premature death from all causes. High cardiorespiratory endurance is strongly protective against coronary artery disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States.

According to a new government report, today’s U.S. teen’s cardiorespiratory fitness is decreasing.

Using a specific measure, the researchers found that only about half of boys and one-third of girls between the ages of 12 and 15 had adequate levels of cardiorespiratory fitness. The overall percentage of fit teens went from 52.4 percent in 1999 to 42.2 percent in 2012, according to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Regardless of their age, it turns out that the boys had better cardiorespiratory fitness than girls. Researchers noted that as adolescent's weight increased, this measure of fitness declined.

A smaller percentage of overweight and obese young people had adequate levels of cardiorespiratory fitness than teens who maintained a normal weight. This is particularly significant, given that about one in five U.S. teens between the ages of 12 and 19 is obese.

Regular physical activity offers teens and children many extra benefits.

       Helps build and maintain healthy bones and muscles.

       Helps reduce the risk of developing obesity and chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and colon cancer.

       Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety and promotes psychological well-being.

       May help improve students’ academic performance, including academic achievement and grades, concentration and task management.

If you’re concerned about your teen’s fitness level, talk to your pediatrician or family doctor about programs designed to specifically help teens get fitter.

Sources: Mary Elizabeth Dallas, http://consumer.healthday.com/fitness-information-14/misc-health-news-265/cardiorespiratory-fitness-among-u-s-teens-has-dropped-in-past-decade-report-688187.html

http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/physicalactivity/facts.htm

Your Teen

Teen’s Social Media Posts May Damage College Chances

2.00 to read

Teens and social media post are practically synonymous these days. Kids have grown up tweeting, texting and posting pictures without giving it too much thought. It’s just what they do. But now, it’s getting time to think about college or a first job and all that personal information may come back to haunt them.

Colleges are increasingly searching applicant’s names on the Internet.  Most college applications are submitted online, so an administrator only has to open a new tab to learn more about a hopeful candidate’s public profile. Background checks are easily available as well. 

The percentages of college admissions officers who say they have Googled an applicant (29%) or visited an applicant’s Facebook or other social networking page to learn more about them (31%) have risen to their highest levels yet, according to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2013 survey of college admissions officers*. When Kaplan first began tracking this issue in 2008, barely 10% of admissions officers reported checking an applicant’s Facebook page. Last year, 27% had used Google and 26% had visited Facebook — up from 20% and 24%, respectively, in 2011.

“As social media has skyrocketed from being the domain of a younger generation to societal ubiquity, the perceived taboo of admissions officers checking applicants online has diminished,” said Seppy Basili, Vice President, Kaplan Test Prep.  “Granted, most admissions officers are not tapping into Google or Facebook, and certainly not as a matter of course. But there’s definitely greater acknowledgment and acceptance of this practice now than there was five years ago.”

Nobody really knows how much importance colleges place on what they find online about a prospective student.

Mark Sklarow, CEO of the Independent Educational Consultants Association, a national organization of private college admissions advisers, tells teens to review their postings and profiles with a critical eye. For example, Sklarow would ask student: “Do comments make you sound like a misogynist? A bully? Do hundreds and hundreds of ‘selfies’ convey narcissism?”

Parents need to be connected with their kids on social media sites so they can know what their child is posting. You can do your own investigation by Googling your child to see what kinds of information is readily available such as pictures, threads and what they like on Facebook and other social media sights. 

Many children have already been told that whatever they post is on the web forever, whether they delete it or not.

The Kaplan Test Prep survey also revealed that 50 percent of high school respondents said they were “not at all concerned” about online searches hurting their chances of admission. While optimism is a wonderful trait, teens and adults may view online posts differently. What may seem like common language and behavior between teens may not translate the same to adults. Parents can help teens understand what is acceptable and what might be considered inappropriate to someone considering a college or job application.

Online posts can also work in a teen’s favor. Many young people volunteer, take an interest in the environment, support worthwhile charities, take extra classes or work part time.  These are all activities that can leave a positive impression and help a student stand out.

Parents can help their teen prepare for college in many different ways. Talking to your child about their online profile is a good start.  There’s no guarantee that the college of their choice will be checking them out online, but if it does make sure they will have nothing to be concerned about.

 Sources: Jacoba Urist, http://www.today.com/moms/application-angst-teens-social-media-could-hurt-college-chances-2D11641782

http://press.kaptest.com/press-releases/kaplan-test-prep-survey-more-college-admissions-officers-checking-applicants-digital-trails-but-most-students-unconcerned

Your Teen

“Little Cigars” That Taste Like Candy

2.00 to read

In another attempt to hook teens and young adults to a life-long nicotine addiction, tobacco companies are now offering “little cigars” as candy flavored tobacco.

Scientists compared the chemical flavorings, and the level of those flavorings, in candy, Kool-Aid and tobacco products.

Researchers found that there was a distinct similarity in the kinds of flavorings used in all three products. In fact, in some of the tobacco products, the levels of flavorings were much higher than in typical candy and Kool-Aid.

U.S. health officials are concerned that the sweet flavors may mask the bitter taste of tobacco, luring people into a very addictive habit that creates great health risks.

"The same, familiar, chemical-specific flavor sensory cues that are associated with fruit flavors in popular candy and drink products are being exploited in the engineered designs of flavored tobacco products," the researchers wrote in their letter. "What we are seeing is truly candy-flavored tobacco."

According to an October 2013 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than two out of every five teen smokers already use flavored products. Nearly 60 % of those smoking little cigars have no desire to quit, compared to 49 % of other cigar smokers.

Since 1990, flavored cigarettes haven been banned in the U.S., but tobacco companies have found a way to get around those regulations with the “little cigars”. They weigh slightly more than cigarettes avoiding regulation by the Food and Drug Administration. Currently, the FDA does not regulate cigars.

When the CDC report was first released back in October, agency officials warned of the health dangers inherent in these products.

"Flavored or not, cigars cause cancer, heart disease, lung disease and many other health problems. Flavored little cigars appeal to youth and the use of these tobacco products may lead to disfigurement, disability and premature death," CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said in an agency news release at the time. "We need to take comprehensive steps to reduce all tobacco use for all of our youth."

Another CDC official put it this way:

"Many little cigars bear a remarkable resemblance to cigarettes. In fact, some youth who are smoking cigarettes may be smoking flavored little cigars that they've mistaken for cigarettes," said Dr. Tim McAfee, director of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health. "The concern it raises for us is because little cigars are so similar to cigarettes, this represents a loophole in the FDA's ban on flavored cigarettes."

The sales of little cigars increased 240% from 1997 to 2007, with flavored brands making up almost 80% of the cigar market according to the CDC.

E-cigarettes are taking their cue from the success of flavored tobacco products. It seems that if a tobacco product is overly sweetened to the point of hiding an unpleasant taste someone will smoke, chew or inhale it.

It’s pretty obvious that tobacco companies know their golden goose is literally dying off and want to attract new consumers. They can’t advertise directly to kids and teens so they quietly add more and more products that appeal to adventurous young people.

Unfortunately, the sweetness will dissolve into a bitter addiction and possible life-long health problems for this new generation of users.

The analysis of the sweetened tobacco products was published online in the May 7 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Source: Robin Foster, http://consumer.healthday.com/cancer-information-5/smoking-cessation-news-628/little-cigars-popular-among-teens-just-candy-flavored-tobacco-report-687628.html

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