Background: In the 1990s, youth use of alternative tobacco products including cigars, bidis, and kreteks increased. This article discusses the prevalence of youth use of cigars, bidis, and kreteks, and characteristics of users.
Methods: The Cigar Use Reasons Evaluation (CURE)-a questionnaire assessing alternative tobacco use and associated attitudes and behaviors-was administered to middle and high school students from 12 school districts across Massachusetts.
Results: Males were more likely to use all forms of alternative tobacco and females more likely to smoke cigarettes. Hispanics were less likely to smoke kreteks or use smokeless tobacco. Urban students were more likely to smoke bidis or use smokeless tobacco than suburban or rural youth. Most smokeless and alternative tobacco users were lifetime cigarette smokers. There was, however, a significant group of cigar smokers, associated with higher parental education, who were not current cigarette smokers.
Conclusions: Use of alternative tobacco poses a risk to the success of tobacco control efforts. While many alternative tobacco users smoke cigarettes, some alternative tobacco users are current cigarette smokers. Cigar use thus constitutes a potential serious risk for youth who otherwise might not be exposed to tobacco.