There has been a steady outcry against the sale of flavored tobacco products in recent months, and the backlash is well deserved.
The 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act banned flavors in cigarettes because of the product’s appeal to youth.
But the ban doesn’t currently apply to other flavored tobacco products, like cigars. The Food and Drug Administration, however, is proposing new rules that would give it authority over cigars, e-cigarettes and pipe tobacco.
Here in New Mexico, a number of teen activists are getting into the mix, releasing a survey late last week that shows strong support for extending the current ban on flavored cigarettes to all flavored tobacco products.
Evolvement, a youth program funded by the New Mexico Department of Health’s Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Program, collected the surveys from a convenience sample in 87 communities across the state.
More than 2,400 New Mexico residents were surveyed, and 63 percent of them support extending the ban on flavored cigarettes to all flavored tobacco products. The survey also found that 83 percent of those surveyed think flavored tobacco products are more appealing to youth than regular tobacco products, and there have been scientific studies that back up that perception.
“These survey findings further demonstrate that flavored tobacco products are not only more appealing to youth because of their flavors, bright packaging and affordability, but are also perceived as a safer alternative to non-flavored tobacco products,” Benjamin Jacquez, the program manager for the Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Program, says. “These types of tobacco industry strategies to attract youth are counter to tobacco control efforts which seek to prevent youth tobacco use initiation, and ultimately, death and disease due to tobacco use.”
As far as we’re concerned, the proposed new rules to give the FDA authority over cigars, e-cigarettes and pipe tobacco can’t take effect soon enough.
Flavored tobacco products are more likely to appeal to young people, and the last thing we need is another generation addicted to tobacco.
Also concerning is the perception that flavored tobacco products are safer than regular tobacco. Seventeen percent of those surveyed in New Mexico thought that flavored tobacco is probably safer than regular tobacco. And 21 percent of current youth tobacco users surveyed thought that flavored tobacco is probably or definitely safer than regular tobacco.