Saturday, July 26, 2008


As participants gathered Friday for much-needed lunch, Baltimore City's Health Commissioner Joshua M. Sharfstein M.D., outlined successes of the host city. "When I took office," he says, "people called me to say you'll never see Baltimore smoke-free." Their prediction: Wrong.

In February, Baltimore's smoking ban in restaurants and bars became law-- and the economy hasn't gone up in smoke. Still, tobacco execs are firing back. They are marketing hip, new products-- especially mini-cigars-- that are gaining popularity with young people.

"One-third of young men in the city say they are smoking Black and Mild," Sharfstein says, referring to the popular pipe-tobacco cigar. Using regulatory power vested in the agency in the 1800s from the days of Yellow Fever, Sharfstein hopes to bring these products under scrutiny. First up: Forcing companies to sell cigars in packs of five, rather than marketing them cheaply as an individual smoke.

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