Camel orbs are the size and color of Tic-TACs and packaged as breath mints. But each ball packs about the same amount of nicotine as a cigarette. Snus is another product that comes in a bright tin box with Camel logo on the lid. Tiny sacs contain soluble tobacco in mint or vanilla flavors.
Snus also has the same nicotine hit, like cigarettes. Big Tobacco is also a marketing nicotine strips that dissolve on the tongue. Some cigars are now in flavors such as grape and cherry.
The R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co, for its part, insists on the fact that these products are instead for the adult consumer to which we would reply: Yes, true. What part of the adult tobacco craves white grape flavored blunts?
We recognize that nicotine delivery systems such as patches, chewing gum and even nicotine mints serve less harmful alternative to cigarettes and may help some smokers quit. Those products, many of which were previously available only by prescription, can be targeted to adult users.
But nicotine sold in the form of chocolates can only have one main objective: Getting kids hooked on one of the drugs in the world. And while regulators have taken reasonable measures to keep cigarettes out of the hands of children, they seem to be behind the curve, which prohibit the use of “new tobacco” and other nicotine products minors.
Jane Alleva, director of the local drug and alcohol abuse education coalition All Council On, attended seminars where she learned more about the risks associated with these products. She said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined fashion as “high risk” teenagers.
She told the assembly of local health directors last week that children can die from ingesting lethal amount of nicotine. For decades, from the 1970s, health officials have seen a steady decline in teenage smoking. But efforts hit a wall in 2009, when the decline leveled down.
In 2011, nearly 30% of high school males and 18% of women use some form of tobacco. This included both cigarettes and forms a “new tobacco.”
Among middle school students, 10% of boys and 8% of girls were using tobacco products. And now, 18 - 25 year olds have the highest rate of tobacco use in any age group in the country.
To some extent, this result is less public money spent on anti-smoking campaigns throughout the country. During the economic downturn, such programs have been among the first to be cut. And in some states, including South Carolina, have traditionally had little anti-smoking efforts in the first place.
But another factor is certainly the marketing of alternative tobacco products to young people. Let them hooked in high school, and they are customers for life - even if that life is reduced to the use of tobacco.
Health officials fought teen smoking for decades with great success, but these new products represent a growing threat and the new strategy on the part of Big Tobacco. Tobacco companies sell the same product in new packaging.
This is a threat that must be addressed not only to the health authorities, such as Alleva, but also by both government regulation and law enforcement. It’s quite simple: Don’t let the market tobacco addictive substance for our children and hit the sale of any tobacco products to minors.