BY JAMES HARPER
Daytona Beach commissioners voted on a resolution this month urging retailers to stop the sale and marketing of flavored tobacco products within city limits.
Susan Cerbone, Daytona Beach public information officer, said one of the reasons the commissioners supported the resolution is because “tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable deaths in the United States and nearly 90 percent of users start before the age of 18.”
“While the resolution is not an outright ban on sales, it sends a clear message that Daytona Beach cares about its youth,” Cerbone said.
According to information obtained by the Daytona Times, in Volusia County, 12.2 percent of middle school students and 26.3 percent of high school students reported using some form of tobacco one or more times in the past 30 days.
Also in Volusia County, 7.4 percent of middle school students and 16 percent of high school students report having smoked cigarettes one or more times in the past 30 days.
Health department pleased
Dr. Bonnie J. Sorensen, director of the Volusia County Health Department, says the agency is pleased that the city has adopted a resolution urging tobacco retailers to stop selling and marketing candy-flavored tobacco products. All of the convenience stores surveyed sell the candy-flavored products stores in Volusia County.
“Daytona Beach joins a growing list of municipalities taking a stand against candy-flavored tobacco products. There are 88 people dying daily in the state of Florida from tobacco-related illnesses. Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death in the United States,” said Sorensen, who also spoke before the city commissioners voted on the resolution.
Impact on Blacks
Stefany Strong, spokesperson for the Volusia County Health Department, said each year approximately 45,000 African-Americans die from a preventable smoking-related disease, which represents more than 10 percent of the estimated yearly smoking related deaths in the U.S.
Strong also noted that smoking is responsible for 87 percent of lung cancers.
African-American men are at least 50 percent more likely to develop lung cancer than White men.
Blacks disproportionately suffer from chronic and preventable disease compared to White Americans. And of the three major causes of death in African-Americans – heart disease, cancer and stroke – smoking and other tobacco use are key contributors to these illnesses, Strong elaborated.
Resolution includes flavored cigars
Signed on June 6 by Mayor Glenn Ritchey, the resolution urges all local retailers who sell tobacco products to cease the sale and marketing of all flavored tobacco products, which are defined as loose tobacco, including snuff flour, plug and twist tobacco, fine cuts, chewing tobacco, snus, shisha tobacco, smoking or snuffing tobacco products.
The resolution also limits “all other kinds and forms of tobacco, including but not limited to cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco products, and blunt wraps prepared in such a manner with the purpose of chewing, inhaling, smoking, or ingesting in any manner which have been flavored through the addition of natural or artificial flavorings, herbs, spices, or other means with flavors characterizing fruit, candy, alcohol, or other similar flavorings with the exception that menthol will not be included in this definition.’’
Other information provided by the health department to persuade commissioners to support the resolution include:
• Ninety percent of today’s smokers started before they were 18 years old.
• Candy and fruit flavors mask the bad taste of tobacco, making it easier for kids to start using tobacco products.
• These products containing flavors like vanilla, orange, chocolate, cherry and coffee are especially attractive to youth.
• Young people are much more likely to use candy and fruit flavored products than adults. Tobacco industry documents show that companies have designed these products with youth in mind.
• Flavored cigars, cigarillos, bidis, shisha, snus, blunts and smokeless tobacco are just as harmful as flavored cigarettes and are heavily marketed to youth.
City commissioners in Port Orange, Holly Hill, Deltona and New Smyrna Beach also have voted to urge retailers to stop selling candy-flavored tobacco products.
The Volusia County Health Department initially made a presentation to the Volusia Council of Governments earlier this year requesting that it asks local cities to adopt resolutions urging tobacco retailers to stop the sale and marketing of candy-flavored tobacco.