Selling flavored tobacco products could be prohibited in Miami-Dade

Flavored tobacco products, a favorite of high school kids, could be prohibited from sale in Miami-Dade County.

Commissioners on Tuesday are scheduled to take a preliminary vote that could lead to Miami-Dade joining New York City, Providence, R.I., and Santa Clara, Calif., as municipalities that have banned selling funky-flavored cigars and chewing tobacco that are popular among teens.

Cigars Pile

A handful of cigars

The ordinance, sponsored by Commissioners Barbara Jordan and Sally Heyman, would impose a $500 fine for selling the products. It comes on the heels of anti-smoking campaigns in Hialeah and across Miami-Dade.

Federal law outlawed the sale of candy-flavored cigarettes in 2009. But some local governments felt the measure did not go far enough, as retailers simply began selling more flavored chewable tobacco and flavored cigars.

A large rack of Swisher Sweets cigars — including blueberry, peach, grape, strawberry and other flavors — fill a large piece of wall on one side of his shop. He got angry when told of the pending plan.

Chewing tobacco, popular among baseball players, has found its way to Marlins Park, where it is estimated that a third or more of the ballplayers chew. But no Marlins are believed to chew flavored tobacco.

The ordinance has caught the attention of Jacksonville-based Swisher International, which plans to lobby commissioners against a ban before a second and final vote on the issue. No date for that vote has been set.

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