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Flavors Attract Kids

Dear Editor,

I am concerned about the tobacco industry using flavors in their toxic products to lure kids into a lifelong addiction. Unfortunately, the tobacco industry does not stop at the use of flavors. It also uses kid-friendly packaging and advertising to deceive kids into thinking their products are harmless. This, coupled with unchecked online purchasing, gets tobacco products past parents and teachers and straight into the hands of kids. All of this is a recipe for disaster.

The tobacco industry’s use of flavors is intentional and the nicotine-disguised-as-candy strategy focuses on the age group most susceptible to addiction. Flavors hook kids. Our local youth face enough challenges during their adolescent development. We should be setting them up for success, not saddling them with tobacco addiction that could torment them the rest of their lives. They deserve better. Tobacco products are any manufactured product containing tobacco or nicotine including but not limited to cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, snuff, chewing tobacco, dipping tobacco, bidis, snus, dissolvable tobacco products and a variety of electronic nicotine devices.

As the new Reality Check/Youth Engagement Coordinator with Advancing Tobacco Free Communities of Delaware, Otsego, and Schoharie Counties (ATFC-DOS), I ask community members and decision-makers to keep our kids safe from an industry that is determined to do them harm. Did you know that stores popular among adolescents contain almost three times more tobacco marketing materials compared to other stores in the same community? The average age of a new smoker in New York State is 13 years old and 90 percent of adult smokers say they first tried smoking by age 18.

The U.S. Surgeon General has indicated the tobacco industry’s advertising and promotional activities causes the onset and continuation of smoking among adolescents and young adults. Evidence supports that limiting the number of businesses selling tobacco products in a community and reducing advertising signage and promotions have been effective ways localities across the country have addressed the issue. Making public parks and shared outdoor spaces tobacco-free as well as encouraging businesses and multi-unit housing to go tobacco-free are other actions communities have taken to limit the amount of tobacco products, litter and smoke/aerosol to which young people are exposed.

Let’s work together to help make the next generation the first tobacco-free generation. Contact ATFC-DOS at 518-255-5387.

Bonnie Peck, Reality check