While most teenagers in the United States have stopped buying cigarettes, that doesn’t mean they've kicked their tobacco habit. Instead, cigarettes substitutes, known as “little cigars,” are the new addiction, and they come in appealing flavors like watermelon, vanilla, and chocolate that give high school kids more of a reason to buy them, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"The so-called small cigars look like cigarettes, addict as much as cigarettes and they kill like cigarettes," Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, told the Associated Press.

A cigar refers to tobacco rolled up in a tobacco leaf that can come in three forms, including a large cigar or around a half-ounce of aged tobacco, a cigarillo or about three grams of tobacco rolled in a narrow cigar, and a little cigar that is the same size as a cigarette and includes a filter. Cigars contain just as many harmful chemicals as cigarettes and could be just as deadly.

According to data compiled in the 2011 National Youth Tobacco Survey, around four in 10 middle and high school-aged kids admitted to smoking a flavored cigar. In an effort to reduce smoking among the youth in American, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned flavored cigarettes in Sept. 2009. However, popular cigar brands like Black & Mild and Swisher Sweet do not fall under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act because they are technically not cigarettes.

“Flavored little cigars are basically a deception,” Frieden told NBC News. “They’re marketed like cigarettes, they look like cigarettes, but they’re not taxed or regulated like cigarettes. And they’re increasing the number of kids who smoke."

Although cigars, cigarillos, and little cigars are not considered cigarettes, they can cause just as many health problems due to the same toxic and carcinogenic compounds. Over time, cigar smoking can lead to gum disease, tooth loss, coronary heart disease, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis. Cigar sales reached $8 billion in the U.S. as of 2009.

"This is new data, and it's very disturbing. It finds that about 4 out of 10 kids who smoke are smoking flavored little cigars," Frieden told WILX. “Flavorings do make it easier for people to start to smoke. They mask the harshness of tobacco, and because of that, they're particularly used for kids and they're more likely to result in kids getting addicted."