ORLANDO— Orange County Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) and Tobacco Free Florida are joining the fight against candy-flavored tobacco products as part of Kick Butts Day 2011, a national day of activism that empowers youth to speak up and take action against Big Tobacco.
Studies of youth expectations around flavored tobacco products, like bidis and hookahs, have found that young smokers report choosing flavored products over cigarettes because they “taste better” and are perceived to be “safer.” In observance of Kick Butts Day on March 23, Orange County SWAT Chapters want community members to know that candy-flavored tobacco products are as addictive and carry similar health risks as regular tobacco products. Orange County SWAT youth in conjunction with the Orange County Tobacco-Free Partnership will hold a Town Hall Meeting at the Orlo-Vista Park and Recreation Center located at 1 North Powers Drive, Orlando from 5:00-7:00pm on Wednesday, March 23, 2011. The public is encouraged to attend to learn more about the dangers that the youth in our community face and how we can better equip them to deal with them.
“We know that the tobacco industry is spending a lot to advertise these candy-flavored products that we see at convenience stores around our schools and neighborhoods,” said Shontreal J., Orlando, a SWAT student. “We want to inform other kids that these products are just as dangerous and addictive as cigarettes.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that in 2004 a study found that 22.8 percent of 17-year-old smokers reported using flavored cigarettes over the past month – compared to just 6.7 percent of smokers over the age of 25.
In September 2009, an FDA ban on flavored cigarettes went into effect under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Menthol cigarettes and flavored tobacco products other than cigarettes were exempt; although, the FDA is currently examining options to regulate these products.
A poll conducted in March 2008 found that one in five youngsters between the ages of 12 and 17 had seen flavored tobacco products or ads, while only one in 10 adults reported having seen them. Young people are much more likely to use flavored tobacco products than adults, and tobacco industry documents show that companies have designed flavored products with kids in mind.
“Parents need to be aware of how common the use of candy-flavored tobacco products is among young people, and should talk to their kids about the dangers of trying these products,” said Dr. Kevin M. Sherin, Director of the Orange County Health Department. “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, however, they are more likely to experiment with others.”
Tobacco Free Florida offers a number of free resources to help smokeless tobacco users quit.
- Phone: Call the Florida Quitline at 1-877-U-CAN-NOW to speak with a Quit Coach who will help assess the user’s addiction and create a personalized quit plan.
- Online: Enroll in online counseling with the Florida Quitline, where each user can create a personalized, web-based quit plan. Visit https://www.quitnow.net/florida to enroll.
In-person: Visit the Florida Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Network’s website, http://ahectobacco.com, to locate a local AHEC and sign up for Quit Smoking