Kicking the habit

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhy these photogenic dumplings are popping up in Los Angeles“Anecdotally, we’ve been hearing that it’s becoming more and more of a problem in the high schools,” she said. “A lot of celebrities are smoking cigars and it sets the trend for a lot of youth.” Cigars today come in several varieties – from thin cigarillos to cigars flavored with peaches and other fruits. Rap star 50 Cent is featured in ads for one brand of cigar, while rapper Jadakiss sells a slow-burning, natural-leaf cigar. “Our governor smokes cigars and makes no qualms about smoking cigars at the Capitol,” Aragon said. “It makes sense that young people would be following in the footsteps of those they look up to.” To counter the effects of tobacco advertisements, county health officials Wednesday launched “It’s Quitting Time, L.A!” – a campaign to get 200,000 smokers to quit by 2010. The campaign will enlist pharmacists and physicians to refer patients to anti-smoking programs and will particularly target ethnic communities, Aragon said. The Health Department study showed that smoking among all county residents is at an all-time low: Only 14.6 percent of residents light up. But Asian and Latino men are smoking twice as much as their female counterparts, the report showed. “Asian men do tend to smoke more than their non-Asian counterparts,” said Nisha Varghese, director of health programs at the San Gabriel-based Asian Youth Center. “Many of the men are immigrants from countries where smoking’s the norm.” African-American and white men are also smoking at higher rates. Nearly 27 percent of African-American men and 16.9 of white men are lighting up. “Los Angeles County has made great progress in reducing smoking rates and the health burden associated with tobacco addiction,” said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, acting director of the county Health Department. “But this survey tells us is that we must continue our efforts so all of our residents can avoid the disease and death caused by tobacco use.” The county spends $4.3billion a year on smoking- related health problems, most of which are preventable, said Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke. “Obviously for L.A. County, when we talk about costs, we talk about the cost of health care. We talk about the fact that we have neonatal units that care for babies that, some of those babies would not be there if their mothers had stopped smoking,” Burke said. araceli.esparza@sgvn.com (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3024160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Cynthia Torres of Pico Rivera considers herself a social cigar smoker. She said she started smoking cigars more frequently after her group of friends recently took it up. “I enjoy the experience of it, and I enjoy the socializing part that comes with it,” said Torres, 24. As the county Department of Public Health kicked off its latest anti-smoking campaign Wednesday with the release of a study showing minority men are lighting up more frequently, cigar smoking among young people seems to be on the rise, said Linda Aragon, director of the county’s Tobacco Control and Prevention program. last_img read more