The new smokeless tobacco products are brightly colorful, smell great and look like candy – the ideal mixture to appeal to youth, Rock County anti-tobacco advocates state.
With cigarette smoking rates falling and more regulations prohibiting smoking in public places, cigarette manufacturers release new products to attract new customers hooked, health officials point out.
Cigarette manufacturers are trying to target youth to make the products look like candy
Youth, particularly girls, are using candy-flavored cigars that price anywhere from 89 cents each to a three-pack for $2.87, said Debbie Fischer, director of Youth2Youth of Rock County. The cigars are available in flavors such as chocolate, cherry and grape.
The products are taxed by weight and not by product type, so they’re barely taxed at all, Fischer said.
The Rock County Health Department highlighted the most common types of OTPs:
– Tobacco sticks, which look like toothpicks and dissolve within 10 minutes in the mouth. One stick contains three times the nicotine of one cigarette.
– Orbs, which resemble small Tic Tacs. They last about 15 minutes. One pellet includes 1 milligram of nicotine, which is the the same to one cigarette. A child could die from eating 10 of the pellets, Fischer said.
– Strips, which are identical to breath mint strips. It takes three minutes to dissolve. One strip includes a bit less nicotine than one cigarette.
– Snus are small pouches that contain tobacco. Snus is being sold to smokers to use when they aren’t able to buy cigarettes.
The orbs, strips and sticks are not sold in Wisconsin. Cigarette makers have launched the products in only several states, and Fischer speculated one reason they might not have spread yet is because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering regulations.
The pouches are becoming very popular in Rock County because of smoking bans, the ease of use and the absence of secondhand smoke, Fischer said.
In accordance with the 2012 Wisconsin Youth Tobacco Survey, 33 % of high school students asked have known the pouches, and 13 % have used smokeless tobacco. Also, 5.8 % said presently using smokeless tobacco or chew.
Using the products is not considered as a safer alternative to cigarettes, health officials claim. Effects include cancer, tooth loss, gum disease and increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
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