Each year on Halloween we are reminded of how much kids like candy-flavored products. An alliance of indviduals and organizations addressing tobacco use in Jefferson County believes a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report will frighten many who are concerned about the health of our children. On Tuesday of this week, the CDC released a report published in the Journal of Adolescent Health showing that more than 40% of middle and high school students who smoke report using either flavored little cigars or flavored cigarettes.
The Tobacco-Free Jeffco Alliance hopes community members will be alarmed by the expanding menu of candy-flavored, cheap tobacco products in stores. The Alliance will continue to educate the public about tobacco industry tactics that lure youth to tobacco such as using flavored products and low prices.
As part of its “What’s in Store for Our Kids” campaign, Jefferson County Public Health and the Alliance are educating residents about how the tobacco industry is targeting kids in Jefferson County. The campaign encourages youth and adults to get involved in local tobacco prevention efforts to make a difference.
“It’s alarming to see grape, strawberry, peach, and other sweet-flavored addictive and deadly tobacco products available for prices similar to candy,” said Sarah Davis, parent and member of the Tobacco-Free Jeffco Alliance.
Last March, the U.S. Surgeon General released a detailed report on the tobacco industry’s methods to entice youth and young adults. Citing published studies and once-secret tobacco industry documents, the report detailed how the industry has used a vast array of strategies, including targeted marketing, retail-level promotions, low pricing and manipulation of the product, including the use of flavors and additives to attract youth.
In July of this year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its second scientific report on the tobacco industry’s use of menthol, impact on public health, and ability to hook kids. Menthol use accounts for almost 57% of youth smokers ages 12-17 in the U.S., according to a study published in the August 30, 2013, edition of the journal Tobacco Control.
“These findings are not surprising when you can find candy-flavored little cigars for a dollar or two and a variety of new novel products such as flavored nicotine-delivering hookah pens and electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, in area stores. The impact that these flavored and novel products is having on kids is already evident,” said Bob Doyle, Executive Director of the Colorado Tobacco Education and Prevention Alliance and member of the Alliance.
The 2008 Tobacco Attitudes and Behaviors Survey indicated that the percentage of youth who smoke cigars in Jefferson County exceeds that of cigarette use. In addition, a study released in 2012 in Boulder County found the same outcome in all but one grade for 9th-12th graders.
Last month, the CDC announced that the number of kids who tried e-cigarettes in the U.S. had doubled from 2011 to 2012. To make matters worse for Coloradans, RJ Reynolds is testing its new e-cigarette, Vuse, exclusively in Colorado, complete with television ads. This marks the first time the tobacco industry has promoted products on television in more than 40 years.
“My hope is that other concerned parents, adults, and youth will join us in exposing and countering the tobacco industry’s ongoing attempts to addict another generation,” said Davis. “Now is the time to stand up for our youth.”
For more information about the “What’s in Store for Our Kids” campaign or the Tobacco-Free Jeffco Alliance, visit www.tobaccofreejeffco.com or call Donna Viverette at 303-275-7555.
For help with quitting: Call 1-(800) QUIT NOW – Colorado Quitline – for free phone coaching over multiple sessions to help you quit with a trained cessation specialist. Includes help to get nicotine patches. Visit the Jefferson County Public Health website with a list of additional resources for quitting.