Gloucester passes flavored tobacco ban with youth support

Some+of+the+many+products+included+in+Gloucester%27s+flavored+tobacco+ban
Some of the many products included in Gloucester's flavored tobacco ban

Some of the many products included in Gloucester's flavored tobacco ban

Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids

Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids

Some of the many products included in Gloucester's flavored tobacco ban

CAROLINE ENOS, Staff Writer, Editor

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As of May 1st, 2018, the sale of all flavored tobacco products- excluding menthol and mint- is banned in any Gloucester store that does not exclusively sell tobacco or smoking products.

“It was important that the flavor ban was passed because the use of flavored tobacco products is such a prominent issue at GHS,” said Healthy Gloucester Collaborative member Rosie Favazza, who is a part of the Collaborative’s Gloucester Youth Council and a senior at GHS. “Not only are students smoking e-cigarettes in the bathrooms, but also in the halls and in class when the teacher isn’t looking.”

Gloucester joins 101 other Massachusetts cities and towns who have already adopted the ban, which also states that any person under 21 cannot enter the store even if with someone over the age limit.

The Board of Health passed the ban Thursday night with only Vice-Chairperson Robert Harris voting opposed.  Harris voiced concern to the board over how the ban will affect the margins of local stores, but agreed that these products were a threat to youth.

Diane Knight, Director of the Northeast Tobacco-Free Community Partnership, stressed to the board that in the towns and cities where this ban has already passed, no stores who sold flavor tobacco products have closed as a result of the ban.

According to Knight, Gloucester has done well in the last two compliance checks over the past year. In these compliance checks, the state sends trained youth into stores to try to buy tobacco products in order to track if tobacco carriers are selling to youth illegally.

At least one store will have to change their business plan to accommodate the ban. Sunny’s Variety on Railroad Ave sells flavored tobacco products, newspapers, snacks, and other merchandise, and will have to choose between carrying only flavored tobacco products, or only other merchandise.

The GYC argued that taking food and other products youth regularly buy out of these stores would give youth no reason to go into them at all- thus diminishing their exposure to flavored tobacco.

The owner of Sunny’s Variety spoke during the hearing, and the owner of Boston Smoke Shop on Washington street was in attendance. However, neither disputed the claims made by Knight and the youth, and commended the regulation already in place that prohibits the entrance of youth under 21 into their stores.

But as the Gloucester Youth Council presented to the board during a public hearing before the vote on the ban, preventing the illegal sale of tobacco products to youth is not the only reason for the ban’s implementation.

By making more than 8,000 flavors- like grape, strawberry, and chocolate- pricing them at only a few dollars, and putting their colorful and appealing packages at a child’s eye level or next to candy, Big Tobacco is actively trying to widen its margins through today’s youth,” said the GYC in their presentation to the board, and in their letter to the editor published in The Gillnetter and Gloucester Daily Times.

Over 89 percent of Massachusetts youth do not smoke cigarettes, and this number continues to rise. To make up for this loss, Big Tobacco companies create new ways to hook youth to their products.

As recounted by the GYC, “68 percent of GHS students reported that their first tobacco product was flavored. 60 percent of students who smoke flavored tobacco products said they would not use or were not sure if they would use tobacco products if they were not flavored.”

Flavored tobacco products- like JUULs and e-cigarettes- are designed by Big Tobacco to resemble pens, flash drives, and everyday items so that adults cannot identify them. The GYC stressed that this is not acceptable. 

“Big tobacco targets youth through specific tactics aimed at them,” said Favazza. “I don’t want Big Tobacco to make victims out of the youths in my community.”

 

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3 Comments

3 Responses to “Gloucester passes flavored tobacco ban with youth support”

  1. jeff on November 5th, 2017 1:29 pm

    this is one of the stupidest ideas. vaping is an over 18/21 product and should be used by adults only. you are making it so people have to keep smoking cigarettes by not helping them quit by proven flavors for vaping ejuices. How about taking on more important issues like the enormous herion epidemic in gloucester ?

    [Reply]

  2. Marta Hays on November 5th, 2017 3:41 pm

    It is sad that the reporter failed to research this topic while penning her article.

    Most e-liquid manufacturers are mom and pop operations started by former smokers who quit with e-cigs. In fact, we are skeptical of big tobacco companies, not part of them. My husband smoked 30 years. He quit with a vanilla custard vape liquid and used a refillable pen style device. This was four years ago.

    We now operate a lab and sell tobacco, fruit, and dessert flavored liquids to adults only, with and without added nicotine. Our basic advice is this: if you smoke, make the switch to vaping. If you don’t smoke, don’t vape.

    [Reply]

    Caroline Enos Reply:

    The flavored tobacco ban does not only apply to e-cigs. Big Tobacco uses a wide range of flavored products to appeal to youth through sweet, cheap, and easy to get tactics, as explained in the article.

    Mom and pop operations may make these products more safe than Big Tobacco would, but it is ultimately Big Tobacco who aggressively markets them as appealing products to youth. By taking all flavored tobacco products out of convenient stores- which youth regularly visit- less youth will be exposed to these marketing ploys and the idea that smoking/vaping any tobacco product is ok in the long term for their health.

    I’m glad your husband was able to fight off his addiction with a product that often has less nicotine in it than traditional cigarettes. However, e-cigs sold by Big Tobacco still have nicotine in them nonetheless, even when their packaging claims that there is 0 percent.

    Youth usually start smoking products made by Big Tobacco, not by mom and pop operations. Big Tobacco uses the tactics listed above to coerce youth into using these products, ultimately becoming addicted through the amount of nicotine still present in them, and eventually becoming life-long smokers.

    This is why the youth mentioned in the article wanted the ban to pass.

    [Reply]

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