Menthol, mint and candy flavors are the gimmicks being used by tobacco companies to hook the most vulnerable on tobacco use. That has caused the formation of a campaign – “Flavors Hook Kids” – today to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products in Maine. A coalition of concerned parties called out the tobacco industry today in the Maine legislature for their targeting of youth, young adults, Black and Brown, indigenous, LGBTQ, low income and other marginalized communities to get hooked on tobacco products.
“Tobacco use among Maine youth is skyrocketing,” said Hilary Schneider, Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action.
“Data shows that four our of five kids who have ever used tobacco started with a flavored product, and that’s not an accident. Tobacco companies have developer an array of menthol, mint and candy-flavored products because they know that’s how to addict their next generation of customers. These flavored products aren’t for adults. Flavors Hook Kids.”
There are now over 15,000 flavored tobacco products on the market. Examples include Winter Menthol, Peppermint Mocha, Cherry Crush, Banana Blast, Pop Tart, and Cotton Candy. Flavors are used in a variety of tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes.
“It would be difficult to name another widely available commercial product that has caused more deadly harm to African Americans than menthol cigarettes, said Kaylin Kecina, a young community activist from Bath who now lives and works in Portland. “The continues appropriation of Black, indigenous and people of color for the sale of tobacco must end. This is about justice and fairness and confronting racial health disparities that are created and perpetuated by the tobacco industry. This is about getting a deadly product off the store shelves.”
Tobacco use among Maine youth is on the rise. Maine’s high school smoking rates are higher than the national average and the second highest in the Northeast.
The Flavors Hook Kids campaign is already supported by over two dozen statewide and community partners. They intend to build their coalition, educate lawmakers, and raise the voices of Maine’s vulnerable community calling for an end to tobacco-caused health disparities and a chance for the next generation of Maine kids to grow up tobacco free.
For more information, visit www.flavorshookkidsmaine.org