Volusia steps up fight against sale of candy- flavored tobacco to children
BY PENNY DICKERSON
The Florida Department of Health has announced that all cities in Volusia County have signed and passed non-binding resolutions to urge retailers not to sell or market candy-flavored tobacco products. The Volusia County Council additionally passed a resolution covering the unincorporated areas.
Non-cigarette tobacco products in flavors like kiwi-strawberry, chocolate and sour apple are available across the state and in Volusia County. Many children and teens mistakenly believe these products are less harmful than their non-flavored counterparts.
Nationwide reports prove that youth are indulging in record numbers despite overwhelming evidence that these deadly products both appeal to youth and lead to a lifetime of tobacco addiction.
Once youth start using one tobacco product, they are more likely to experiment with others.
“Nearly 90 percent of adult smokers start before their 18th birthday,” said Ron Rondeau, interim director of the Florida Department of Health in Volusia County. “Volusia County is no exception, with one in six youth reporting that they have even tried flavored tobacco.”
More SWAT students
Volusia County is seeing an increase in participation in Students Working Against Tobacco or SWAT, the health department announced this week.
There are 13 schools that indicated they would participate this year. Last year, there were seven SWAT chapters. Each school will have its own SWAT advisor who is trained to guide the students through the meetings and activities.
According to the health department, SWAT is Florida’s statewide youth organization “working to mobilize, educate and equip Florida youth to revolt against and de-glamorize Big Tobacco.’’
The SWAT clubs for the new school year are: Basilica School of St. Paul (Daytona Beach), Creekside Middle School (Port Orange), Deltona High School, Holly Hill School, New Smyrna Beach Middle School, Ormond Beach Middle School, Reign Homeschooling Academy (Daytona Beach), Silver Sands Middle School (Port Orange), Southwestern Middle School (DeLand), Spruce Creek High School (Port Orange), Taylor Middle School (Pierson), Taylor High School (Pierson) and Word & Praise Christian Learning Center (Daytona Beach).
Cheap smoke screen
Smokeless tobacco products includes chew, dip, snus (smokeless tobacco that users slip between the lip and gum) and a host of emerging products and compared to cigarettes, these products can contain more nicotine. The flavoring and lower costs of these non-cigarette smoked tobacco products make them especially appealing to youth.
In 2009, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act banned fruit-and candy-flavored cigarettes. However, menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars, cigarillos and smokeless products were not included.
According to the health department, all of these tobacco products can cause cancer, heart disease and other smoking-related diseases. Traditional smokeless products, like chew and dip, contain 28 cancer-causing agents and users of these products have an 80 percent higher risk of oral cancers and a 60 percent higher risk of pancreatic and esophageal cancer.
The 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s report released last January concluded that unless youth smoking rates drop rapidly, 5.6 million youth up to age 17 will die early from a cigarette smoking-related illness.
With cigarette smoking rates on the decline, the tobacco industry has created products and strategies that attract a new generation of tobacco users. The array of flavored tobacco products that appeal to youth present new challenges and concerns in the fight against tobacco use. These products help create a new generation of lifelong nicotine addicts and of life-threatening diseases.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Office of Adolescent Health) reports that more than 450,000 12-to-13-year-olds and around 4.4 million 14-to-17-year-olds have smoked.
Although tobacco use by adolescents has declined substantially in the last 40 years, nearly one in 15 high school seniors was a daily smoker in 2014.
Substantial racial/ethnic and regional differences in smoking rates exist. Among high school students, White teens are more likely to smoke than are their Black or Hispanic peers and smoking rates are typically higher in nonmetropolitan areas, and in the Southern and Midwestern regions of the country.
Tobacco products used by adolescents include cigarettes (both store-bought and hand-rolled), cigars, pipes, hookahs, smokeless tobacco and newer oral products such as e-cigarettes, pouches, lozenges, strips and sticks. All of these products deliver tobacco’s toxic effects.
Tobacco Free Florida is a statewide cessation and prevention campaign funded by Florida’s tobacco settlement fund. The program is managed by the Florida Department of Health, specifically the Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida. The campaign’s website includes a wealth of information on the dangers of cigarettes and ways to quit.
For more information, visit www.tobaccofreeflorida.com.