Movie stars smoke them. Sports heroes brandish them. Magazines are devoted to them. And more young people are responding to the trendy allure of cigars.
With the popularity has come growing complaints by public health agencies about health risks. Now California is taking action, beginning the nation's first advertising campaign aimed straight at the dramatic increase in cigar use among teens and young adults.
The state Department of Health Services plans to use several hundred thousand dollars from the state's 37-cents-a-pack tobacco tax to combat movie and TV smoking and tobacco sponsorship of sports and community events.
"We're dealing with a very savvy and very deep-pocket industry that takes a lot of different tactics that we just have to respond to," says Carla Agar, department spokeswoman.
Forget your grandfather's cigar. A survey found that one out of four American teens smoked a cigar in the past year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last year. The survey found that 26.7 percent of 16,417 youngsters ages 14 to 19 reported smoking one. Nationwide, that works out to an estimated 6 million teens, the CDC said. It found that 37 percent of young men had smoked a cigar, compared with 16 percent of young women.