Death Never Tasted So Sweet

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There’s berry, vanilla, chocolate, and green apple. There are flavored cigars, tobacco leaves, smokeless, chew, snuff, snus, hookah and dissolvable tobacco. In short, a wide variety of candy and fruit flavored tobacco products are available in communities throughout Florida despite overwhelming evidence that these deadly products appeal to youth and can lead to a lifetime of tobacco addiction.

In recent years, the emergence of new flavored tobacco products, presented in colorful and playful packaging and backed by hefty marketing budgets, have parents, teachers, health advocates, physicians, and communities rightly concerned. Flavored tobacco appeals to younger audiences. In Florida, one in six kids between the ages of 11 and 17 had ever tried flavored tobacco. 1

Many of these kids erroneously believe these products are less harmful than their non-flavored counterparts. Using any kind of tobacco product increases the risk of developing serious health problems, including various types of cancer, heart disease and lung disease.2

Youth have always been an important target for the tobacco industry. Numerous internal tobacco industry documents reveal that companies perceive youth as a key market. In April 2009, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, H.R. 1256, a U.S. federal law that gave the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) power to regulate the tobacco industry, paved the way to ban production and marketing of fruit and candy flavored cigarettes. However, the ban does not currently include menthol cigarettes or other types of flavored tobacco such as smokeless tobacco and cigars.3 4

The FDA is currently examining options for regulating both menthol cigarettes and other types of flavored tobacco products like smokeless tobacco and cigars.

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  • Flavored tobacco products include smokeless tobacco, chewing tobacco, snuff, snus, cigars, cigarillos and dissolvable tobacco.5 These products, containing flavors like vanilla, orange, chocolate, cherry, and coffee, are especially attractive to youth.
  • Candy and fruit flavors mask the bad taste of tobacco, making it easier for kids to start using tobacco products. Once they start using one tobacco product, they are more likely to experiment with others.6
  • Studies of youth expectations around flavored tobacco products like bidis and hookahs have found that young smokers report choosing flavored products over non-flavored cigarettes because they “taste better” and are perceived to be “safer.” 7
  • According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), young people are much more likely to use flavored tobacco products than adults, and tobacco industry documents show that companies have designed flavored cigarettes with kids in mind.8 9
  • Under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which gives the FDA power to regulate the tobacco industry, the sale of cigarettes containing certain characterizing flavors other than menthol became illegal as of September 22, 2009. The ban currently exempts menthol cigarettes and flavored tobacco products other than cigarettes. 10
  • The FDA is currently examining options for regulating both menthol cigarettes and flavored tobacco products other than cigarettes, including chewing tobacco, cigars, cigarillos, bidis, dip, shisha, snuff, snus and other smokeless tobacco products. Most of these products can currently be purchased at any convenience store.11
  • In Florida, one in six kids between the ages of 11 and 17 had ever tried flavored tobacco.12
  • In 2011, 19.7 percent of Florida high school students had tried a flavored cigar and 9.8 percent had smoked a flavored cigar on one or more occasions during the past 30 days.13
  • In 2011, 7.9 percent of Florida high school students had tried flavored smokeless tobacco and 4.6 percent of high school students had used flavored smokeless tobacco in the past 30 days. 14


References

1Florida Youth Tobacco Survey (FYTS), Florida Department of Health, Bureau of Epidemiology, 2011

2U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A Report of the Surgeon General: How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: What It Means to You. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 2010

3GovTrack.us. H.R. 1256:Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Web. 7 March 2011.

4U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Candy and Fruit Flavored Cigarettes Now Illegal in United States; Step is First Under New Tobacco. FDA.Web. 7 March 2011

5“Tobacco Free Kids.” Smokeless Tobacco and Kids. 17 March 2011. < http://www.tobaccofreekids.org/research/factsheets/pdf/0003.pdf>

6U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA Parental Advisory on Flavored Tobacco Products – What You Need To Know. FDA.7 March 2011. http://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/ProtectingKidsfromTobacco/FlavoredTobacco/ucm183196.htm

7Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1999. Bidi use among urban youth – Massachussetts, March-April. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 48, 796-799

8U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA Parental Advisory on Flavored Tobacco Products – What You Need To Know. FDA.7 March 2011.

9Primack, BA, Sidani, J, Agarwal, AA, Shadel, WG, Donny, EC, Eissenberg, TE. Prevalence of and associations with waterpipe tobacco smoking among U.S. university students. Ann Behav Med 2008 Aug;36(1):81-6.

10U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Flavored Tobacco Product Fact Sheet. 1 February 2011..

11U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Flavored Tobacco Product Fact Sheet. 1 February 2011..

12Florida Youth Tobacco Survey (FYTS), Florida Department of Health, Bureau of Epidemiology, 2011

13Florida Youth Tobacco Survey (FYTS), Florida Department of Health, Bureau of Epidemiology, 2011

14Florida Youth Tobacco Survey (FYTS), Florida Department of Health, Bureau of Epidemiology, 2011