The prevalence of tobacco use among urban African American persons aged 18 to 24 years not enrolled in college is alarmingly high and a challenge for smoking cessation initiatives. Data from inner-city neighborhoods in Baltimore, Md, indicate that more than 60% of young adults smoke cigarettes.
The overall objective of this study was to describe community-level factors contributing to this problem. Data from focus groups and surveys indicate that the sale and acquisition of “loosies” is more pervasive than previously thought and may contribute to the high usage and low cessation rates. In addition to cigarettes, the study found that little cigars, which are sold individually for less than $1 each, may also be contributing to the high percentage of young adult African Americans who smoke.
The study served as a wake-up call for Baltimore public health officials, who have stepped up efforts to raise the price of little cigar products to the same level as cigarettes. The city is also working on restricting the sale of single little cigars.