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Finally something Churchillian about Gen Z: Youngsters love CIGARS, study shows


Gen Z has revived the smoking of cigars after being inspired by their favourite sports stars and celebrities – and Winston Churchill.

The 350 per cent rise in adults using cigars, cigarillos, pipes and shishas over the past ten years is a public health worry, say cancer experts.

In September 2013, just 0.36 per cent of adults used the products, but it had risen to 0.46 per cent by 2020, according to The Telegraph. 

It surged to a peak of 1.97 per cent in May 2022, when 910,000 adults were smoking cigars or other non-cigarette tobacco products.

The resurgence of cigars among youngsters is thought to be down to celebrities such as rapper Jay-Z, and singers Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez.

Channeling their inner Churchill: The former prime minister smoking a cigar in 1950

Channeling their inner Churchill: The former prime minister smoking a cigar in 1950

The resurgence of cigars among youngsters is thought to be down to celebrities such as rapper Jay-Z, and singers Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez

The resurgence of cigars among youngsters is thought to be down to celebrities such as rapper Jay-Z, and singers Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez

Pep Guardiola with a cigar while at Manchester City

Pep Guardiola with a cigar while at Manchester City

Michael Jordan is known to be a keen cigar smoker

Michael Jordan is known to be a keen cigar smoker

Manchester City’s treble-winning manager Pep Guardiola often sparks one up to celebrate, as well as other well-known faces such as Piers Morgan and Therese Coffey.

The 2020 Netflix documentary Last Dance, which told the story of basketball stars Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen also featured the pair puffing on cigars. 

More than five times as many people are smoking them than a decade ago, research found.

With people increasingly turning their backs on cigarettes, the ‘concerning’ trend means one in 10 smokers now use alternative tobacco products.

But scientists are most concerned about the rise in use among young people. 

In September 2023 3.2 per cent of 18-year-olds smoked the alternative products, up from just 0.19 per cent a decade earlier.

Experts said the shift to non-cigarette tobacco products was particularly pronounced among young adults, but could also in part be down to the rise in vaping. 

The 350 per cent rise in adults using cigars, cigarillos, pipes and shishas over the past ten years is a public health worry, say cancer experts (stock image)

The 350 per cent rise in adults using cigars, cigarillos, pipes and shishas over the past ten years is a public health worry, say cancer experts (stock image) 

Manchester City's treble-winning manager Pep Guardiola sparked up a cigar to celebrate. Pictured in June 2023 at the victory parade

Manchester City’s treble-winning manager Pep Guardiola sparked up a cigar to celebrate. Pictured in June 2023 at the victory parade

Piers Morgan has also been getting involved in the cigar craze

Piers Morgan has also been getting involved in the cigar craze

University College London researchers (UCL) studied monthly survey data between September 2012 and 2023, involving more than 200,000 adults in England.

They found 772,800 people now exclusively smoke tobacco other than cigarettes, up from 151,200 in 2013.

This means that in 2022/23, around one in 10 smokers exclusively used non-cigarette tobacco, according to the study. 

Use was consistently higher among men and current vapers, with highest rates among 18-year-olds, they found.

Cancer Research UK, which funded the study, said there had been a ‘step level increase’ in the use of these products at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Possible explanations include concerns about cigarette smoking worsening coronavirus symptoms, leading some to switch to products they believed to be less harmful.

Financial difficulties may have also caused people to switch from cigarettes to cheaper options, they said, while a ban on menthol cigarettes in 2020 is also likely to have played a part.

In 2022/23, around one in 10 smokers exclusively used non-cigarette tobacco, according to the study (stock picture)

In 2022/23, around one in 10 smokers exclusively used non-cigarette tobacco, according to the study (stock picture)

The rise in non-cigarette tobacco smokers from 2020 onwards was 'most pronounced among younger adults' compared to older ages, according to the findings published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research (stock picture)

The rise in non-cigarette tobacco smokers from 2020 onwards was ‘most pronounced among younger adults’ compared to older ages, according to the findings published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research (stock picture)

Lead author Dr Sarah Jackson, of UCL’s Institute of Epidemiology and Heath, said: ‘Although rates of cigarette smoking have fallen, our data show there has been a sharp rise in use of other smoked tobacco products, particularly among young people.’

The study found 0.36 per cent of the population were exclusive non-cigarette tobacco users in 2013, which rose to 1.68 per cent in 2023.

The rise in non-cigarette tobacco smokers from 2020 onwards was ‘most pronounced among younger adults’ compared to older ages, according to the findings published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research.

Researchers suggest this could be due to the rising popularity of vapes.

‘This pattern of results may reflect greater exploration of different products among younger adults,’ they wrote.

‘Over the same period when exclusive non-cigarette tobacco smoking increased, there was also a marked increase in vaping among adolescents and young adults, which may have prompted experimentation with other nicotine products..’

It comes after the government pledged to create the first smoke-free generation with legislation so children born on or after 1 January 2009 will never be legally sold tobacco.

Experts have urged ministers to ensure that the new age of sale legislation will include all tobacco products.

The paper concludes: ‘The inclusion of non-cigarette combustible tobacco products under the proposed ‘smokefree generation’ policy is therefore likely to be important for achieving the greatest reduction in youth uptake of tobacco smoking, as it would ensure young people who are unable to legally buy cigarettes do not buy other combustible tobacco products that are similarly harmful to health.’ 

Dr Ian Walker, Cancer Research UK’s executive director of policy, said: ‘Tobacco kills one person every five minutes in the UK. Research like this shows that the issue of smoking isn’t just about cigarettes – all tobacco products are harmful and cause cancer, no matter what form they come in.

‘That’s why it’s crucial that the Government’s age of sale legislation applies to all tobacco products.

‘If implemented, this policy will be a vital step towards creating a smokefree UK, preventing future generations from ever becoming addicted to tobacco.’



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