Convenience stores, smoke shops and other vendors will be urged to eliminate the sale of tobacco that critics say is designed to encourage use by children.
County commissioners approved a resolution to ask those businesses to stop selling candy-flavored tobacco products.
There was strong reaction to the fact that tobacco companies are creating chewing tobacco, cigars and other products that have flavors such as chocolate-chip cookie dough, vanilla and midnight berry.
“This is just mind-boggling,” said Commissioner Carolyn Mason.
“I think (it) is unconscionable,” Commissioner Jon Thaxton said. “It’s reprehensible. It’s sick.”
The product packaging looks similar to candy packages, and some shops don’t keep the candy-flavored tobacco products behind the counter, instead placing them next to the candy shelf.
According to the Tobacco-free Partnership of Sarasota County, 33% of the county’s school kids have admitted to using some sort of tobacco. Statewide the rate is at 22%.
Kisha Gaines, tobacco specialist at the Sarasota County Health Department, said children are more familiar with the products than their parents know.
One in five children, ages 12 to 17, have seen candy-flavored tobacco products or seen advertisements for them, while just one in 10 adults has.
Three young members of the group Students Working Against Tobacco urged commissioners to take action.
“No one in their right mind should be advertising this,” said Dylan Kona, 14.
Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].