Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hendry Health Department Exposes Tobacco Targeted To Kids

By Valarie James, Hendry County Health Department

Flavored Tobacco Sold In 80 Hendry Stores - Marketed Toward Youth
Tobacco companies have long denied they are targeting youth with their flavored tobacco products, but in fact a recent poll by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that one in five youth between the ages of 12 and 17 had seen flavored tobacco products or ads, while only one in 10 adults reported having seen them.  

When the FDA was given the authority to regulate tobacco products on June 22, 2009, their first act of business was banning the distribution and sales of flavored cigarettes.  This was a profound first step in protecting Florida's youth against Big Tobacco's pattern of targeting youth with their flavored tobacco products and advertisements.  

However, flavored tobacco still comes in a variety of products such as cigars, cigarillos and smokeless with flavors ranging from cool mint to vanilla to chocolate chip cookie dough.  These products have an alluring appeal and are often referred to as a gateway for children and young adults to become regular tobacco users.  

According to the FDA, young tobacco users choose flavored products because they "taste better" and are perceived "safer". 

Another way Big Tobacco is targeting youth is through product packaging.  Flavored tobacco products tend to resemble candy packaging with bright colors and bold graphics.  In a study done by the FDA, 52% of youth smokers between the ages of 13 and 18 who had heard of flavored cigarettes reported interest in trying them, and nearly 60% thought that flavored cigarettes would taste better than 
regular cigarettes. 

Glades County Commissioners Sign Resolution Against Flavored Tobacco

Sarah Litchy, of Moore Haven's S.W.A.T. reports three students from the Moore Haven Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Club asked the Glades County Commission for a resolution on candy flavored tobacco on May 10th.
The students were rewarded for their hard work with a 5-0 vote in favor of the resolution. The students gathered signatures from community members, gave presentations at community events, gathered data on candy flavored tobacco in Glades County, and practiced their presentation for the County Commission many times.  

Litchy says "The students have created awareness in the community about how tobacco companies target youth with their marketing of candy flavored tobacco products. Tobacco products like chocolate chip cookie dough and honey blunt warps, grape cigars, peach Skoal, and buttercup smokeless tobacco are just a few that are available in Glades County."

Hendry Students Fighting Flavored Products

On June 10, 2011, Melissa Franco and Christina Bracciale of the Clewiston High School Students Working
Against Tobacco (SWAT) chapter conducted a presentation during the Tobacco-Free Hendry County Partnership monthly meeting.  

The young ladies presented information from a local standpoint and presented data that we currently have 84 licensed stores in Hendry with approximately 95% of those stores selling Candy Flavored Tobacco Products.  "Of the 84 licensed stores in Hendry County, 6 are located with 1 mile of our schools in Clewiston and 2 within 1 mile of LaBelle schools," stated Christina Bracciale.  

They also notified the partnership that we currently have over 500 signatures from youth and adults in Hendry County seeking a resolution to ban the sale of Candy Flavored Tobacco Products in Hendry County.  "We are not trying to keep tobacco retailers from making a living, we just want to prevent youth from beginning a very addictive and deadly habit" stated Melissa Franco.  

The Tobacco-Free Partnership of Hendry County and SWAT are seeking a communitywide resolution to ban the Sale of Candy Flavored Tobacco Products in Hendry County.  The same resolution will be sought from the County, Clewiston, and LaBelle cities.  

Having the city and countywide ban will provide a communitywide network of support and collaboration.  The TFP, SWAT and the department of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (ABT) will collaborate to bring the necessary trainings to the County Commission, City Commission, Tobacco Retailers, and community at large.  

For More Information And Free Presentations

If you would like a presentation for adult audiences from the Hendry County SWAT on Candy Flavored Tobacco or you would like to receive any other SWAT tobacco trainings or to join the Tobacco-Free Partnership of Hendry County please contact Valarie James at 863-674-4056 ext 128.  


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