Move over, cigarettes. Make room for limitations on cigar sales... at least in Baltimore.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the city council has adopted a proposal that would make Baltimore, Md. the first city in the United States to limit sales of small, individual cigars known as "blunts" or "loosies" in neighborhood stores.
The law is specifically aimed at teenagers influenced by popular hip-hop singers, the Sun reports, and each cigar contains much more nicotine than a cigarette. In addition to packing more of a nicotine wallop, the newspaper says, the cigars are artificially sweetened, adding to their appeal to adolescents.
The sale limitation could be implemented by the city's health department within days, the Sun reported, and would prohibit selling the cigars individually, at about 50 cents each. Because the cigars would have to be sold in minimum packs of five, city officials theorize the increased cost could reduce the number of teenagers smoking cigars.
Cigars don't fall under U.S. government regulations against selling cigarettes to minors, the newspaper reports, and this may have led to a 2007 study by Johns Hopkins University researchers that found nearly 24 percent of Baltimore residents between 18 and 25-years-old had smoked a small cigar within the past 30 days.
While scientific studies on the impact of long-term cigar smoking aren't as comprehensive as those that looked at cigarette smoking, the U.S. government's National cancer Institute says that research "has shown that cancers of the oral cavity (lip, tongue, mouth, and throat), larynx, lung, and esophagus are associated with cigar smoking."