Friday, February 29, 2008

All the SNUS that's fit to print: News-Sentinel on tobacco targeting kids

Great story by Jennifer Boen in yesterday's News-Sentinel: "Kids are tobacco targets." Boen details the latest round of products that appear to be aimed at minors:

Kauai Kolada Camel cigarettes, strawberry Liquid Zoo cigarettes, Black & Mild apple-flavored pipe tobacco cigars or peach-flavored Swisher Sweets small cigars, to name just a few. If cigarettes or cigars are not the tobacco product of choice, there is Kayak's smokeless grape-flavored chewing tobacco or Camel's spice or frost SNUS, which are a smokeless, spit-less tobacco product.
And if you're going to give a kid a Camel, you'll have to market it to him, too:
A report released Feb. 20 titled “Big Tobacco's Guinea Pigs: How an Unregulated Industry Experiments on America's Kids and Consumers,” blasts the tobacco industry's use of flavorings, youth-appealing packaging and market strategies that include large ads in magazines such as Rolling Stone and Sports Illustrated, which have high youth readership.


South Side [High School students] Jessica Rosales...[and Jose] Bardallo...[agree that] flavored products or those with eye-catching packaging are wooing young people. The sleek hot pink-and-black packaging of Camel No. 9s, introduced last year, is especially appealing to teenage girls, she said. The 2004 Brown & Williamson Kool Mixx campaign featured young rappers, disc jockeys and dancers on cigarette packs and advertisements.


Bardallo and Rosales said another issue affecting sales of tobacco to youths is that more outlets such as gas stations, particularly in lower-income parts of town, are selling more affordable single products rather than just packs.
The root of the debate is whether the FDA should regulate tobacco products, a measure that has failed several times in the past. But lawmakers, including Indiana's two senators, seem serious this time:
“With new marketing campaigns targeting younger audiences each year, consumers must be aware of the potential health consequences of the tobacco products they purchase and use, as well as uncertain claims that one product may be less detrimental to one's health than another,” [Richard] Lugar said in a news release issued with the report. The bill has bipartisan support, with 56 Senate co-sponsors and 215 House co-sponsors. Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., has also signed on in support.
The big tobacco companies apparently haven't learned from previous controversies surrounding its efforts to market products to children. What they seem to forget is that the fallout from these controversies helped fuel the anti-tobacco sentiment that persists to this day. Now they have people fired up again, they might just be one step closer to digging their own grave.

No comments: