Fruit of tobacco intended for children, FL

Rainbow Fruit blunts, line the shelves behind the counter at the convenience of Eustis Mobil store on U.S. Highway 441.

Tobacco users have a choice: apple, grape, peach and more. But the movement is gaining momentum throughout the state of the flavored tobacco. Local officials say candy, the taste and bright, colorful wraps are designed to attract children’s attention and get them hooked on tobacco products.

About 100 resolutions - including several in Central Florida - have been adopted throughout the state, urging the company to stop selling fruit and liqueur with the taste of tobacco, including cigars, chewing tobacco and snuff.

“Young people perceive these products are safe, both because of the taste of candy,” said Dr. Bonnie Sorensen, director of the Volusia County Health Department.

Although scented products seem “benign,” Sorensen warned they are addictive as regular cigarettes. As part of the movement against flavored tobacco, she talked with government officials in several cities in Volusia, including Port Orange, who has decided to ask him to quit the business sale. Kissimmee, St. Cloud and Lake Mary have also adopted the resolution.

Lake County this month became the latest Central Florida to join the efforts of the government after the Department of Health officials cited the 2010 poll found one in five middle school students and reported using flavored tobacco. Of the more than 40 shops studied, health officials said that all carried the flavored tobacco products.

In Orange, more than 150 stores were surveyed, and all done by different flavored tobacco, said Mary Petiprin, tobacco prevention specialist of the Department of Health District. One of six children from 11 to 17 reported using flavored tobacco, which they get from the older teens, Petiprin said. She plans to ask city and county officials to adopt a resolution in a month or two. Osceola Health Department officials are working with the district on a similar resolution.

Flavored cigars have been around for many years. Nevertheless, dozens of new flavors were introduced to the market, said Sorensen. Tobacco pellets, which resemble Tic Tac mints and toothpicks nicotine connections are also available, she said. Many of these products have been creeping into the local convenience store area in the last two or three years, said Sorensen.

Tobacco pellets and sun, kind of smokeless tobacco products are manufactured by RJ Company Reynolds Tobacco, but do not focus on children, said John Singleton, director of communications at the parent company, Reynolds American Inc He said RJ Reynolds, the second largest cigarette manufacturer in the U.S., working with an average schools across the country to prevent children from smoking.

“We are in line with the aim of this work,” says Singleton. “We have another way to go about doing this, though.”

State and local authorities should work to ensure compliance with laws that prohibit minors from smoking and stiffer penalties for people who are selling or providing tobacco to children, rather than a ban flavored tobacco, Singleton said.

Others also questioned the need for resolutions that have no teeth. Local authorities can not ban tobacco in their communities so that they are at the mercy of retailers to put out the scented products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has the authority to regulate tobacco, flavored cigarettes banned, except for menthol, in 2009. Petiprin the federal government needs to take other flavored tobacco products, as a serious threat to children.

But Lake County Commissioner Jennifer Hill, who voted against the resolution earlier this month, called it a “slippery slope” for local governments to seek retailers not to sell flavored tobacco. She asked whether the wine and chocolate and cotton candy vodka will be next on the list of matches.

Geoff Baker, a convenience store owner Eustis, said it would be difficult to convince businesses that are already prohibited from selling tobacco to minors voluntarily discarded fruit items, which are also legally be sold only to adults.

“It makes no sense,” he said, adding that such responsibility lies with the parents.

Nevertheless, Petiprin said that parents often do not realize that their children use the flavored tobacco. Brilliant and colorful candy wrappers, as can be deceiving, she said.

Robert Hurtado, 17, Orlando said she did not know, candy flavored tobacco existed until she heard about it in the students working against tobacco program at Pine Castle Christian Academy. Robert, president of the group, and then began to focus more on the juicy taste of her visits to the stores.

“It’s like Starbursts” Hurtado said the class, which includes strawberry, cherry and orange. “I can not believe companies are so desperate to users that they will be targeted at children. Advisable to meddle with the health and minds of children, it’s dirty.”


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