LAUREL HILL — The City Council on Tuesday unanimously adopted a resolution that urges local retailers to cease flavored tobacco sales following two students’ presentation on the issue.
Students Working Against Tobacco members Shania Weekley, 15, and Gage Bailey, 16, gave a PowerPoint presentation opposing the products that particularly attract younger customers. Teens think bidis — Indian hand-rolled cigarettes — and hookahs taste better and seem safer than cigarettes, according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration studies.
Further, the FDA reports that some tobacco companies’ internal memos indicate marketing efforts for youth-targeted cigarettes.
A clerk with Laurel Hill’s Tom Thumb gas station said the store sells around 40 types of flavored tobacco.
A popular chewing tobacco brand can offer several flavors, Gage said.
"It can be found in peach, apple and even chocolate flavors," he said.
Flavored tobacco acts as a "starter" product that could lead to lifelong tobacco addiction, according to the Food and Drug Administration website.
"Almost all of Florida has a city or county with a resolution” discouraging such products’ sale, Shania said.
The city of Crestview in November 2011 passed a similar resolution that urges tobacco retailers to stop marketing and selling flavored tobacco products within city limits.
Following the students’ presentation, the council adopted a resolution that urges local retailers to discontinue flavored tobacco product sales.
Council Vice President Robby Adams motioned to adopt the resolution with a second from Betty Williamson. Including votes from Clifton Hall and Larry Hendren the resolution unanimously passed.
SWAT is a statewide youth organization that actively works against the tobacco industry and particularly aims its message at youth, according to the Florida Department of Health’s website.
The program, which has 25 students in different grade levels, participates in several community activities, Officer Joe McLaughlin of the Okaloosa County Sheriff ’s Office said.
McLaughlin said that many of SWOT’s members became aware of tobacco use’s potential effects through personal experiences.
"A lot of the kids here have had family members who have died as a result of (using) tobacco," McLaughlin said.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.