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Tobacco Free Zone Spotlights the Industry’s Practice of Target Marketing Flavored Tobacco Products to Young People

“Twisted berry” “Frooty Lemonade” “Slushy Tropical” and “Smooth Ice” are some of the names of tobacco products marketed toward youth. The marketing and sale of flavored tobacco products is a key strategy of the tobacco industry to recruit new users. More than 80% of youth who have ever tried tobacco started with a flavored product.

Ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products is a critical piece in preventing kids from ever starting to use these products. Flavored products are easier to start and more difficult to quit – no matter if it’s a vaping product, little cigar, or smokeless product. New York State enacted an important step to ban the sale of all flavored e-cigarette products, but didn’t address loopholes and limitations in enforcement ability that have enabled continued access and promotion of these products to youth. When kids have easy access to tobacco, it’s setting up them for many years of addiction, lung damage and other life-threatening illnesses.

Flavors mask the dangers to tobacco, with many kids not recognizing the risks they pose. Once youth start using these products, nicotine addiction keeps them smoking into adulthood. Nicotine is particularly harmful to adolescent brain development, possibly causing difficulties in learning and attention, memory lapses, increased stress levels, and symptoms of anxiety and depression. The Surgeon General also found that using nicotine in adolescence can increase risk of future addition to other drugs.

Tobacco use continues to be the single most preventable cause of disease, disability and death. A coordinated effort across different sectors, including well-crafted policy and environmental change, is critical in changing the norm around tobacco use, tackling addiction and improving public health. Visit the Tobacco Free Zone of Cortland, Tompkins & Chenango website for more information and to learn how you can be involved in local change. The Tobacco Free Zone program includes Reality Check. Reality Check is a statewide outlet for teens who are compelled to expose the deceptive marketing practices of the tobacco industry and seek to advance a tobacco-free norm in their community.

Support is available for people who want to quit

The New York State Smokers’ Quitline is a confidential service for all New York State residents who wish to overcome tobacco use, including e-cigarettes. Free offerings include individualized coaching and assistance with quit-planning from highly trained Quit Coaches, text and chat support and free shipping of stop-smoking medications such as nicotine patches or nicotine gum for those 18 and older. Residents of all ages may contact the Quitline for support and educational materials. In additions, the Quitline encourages teens and young adults (ages 13-24) to text “DROPTHEVAPE” to 88709 to join “This is Quitting,” a free texting support program for help with quitting vaping. Visit NYSSmokeFree.com anytime for more information or call 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8489) seven days a week, beginning at 9am.

Written by: Jennifer Hamilton, Tobacco Free Zone Community Engagement Coordinator, Cortland Co. Health Department.

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