SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – Snohomish County tobacco retailers no longer may sell flavored cigarettes that appeal especially to youth. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) banned their sale effective September 22, 2009, to help reduce the availability and desirability of tobacco to minors. Now-illegal flavors include clove and cinnamon, licorice, orange, vanilla, chocolate, cherry, and coffee. Menthol cigarettes currently are exempt from the law and may still be sold.
“The FDA’s directive endorses better health by pulling the plug on clever marketing to addict youth to tobacco,” said Dr. Gary Goldbaum, Health Officer and Director of the Snohomish Health District. “Flavored cigarettes were designed to attract young consumers, essentially ensuring future profits by hooking a new generation of smokers—which means a new generation of chronically diseased adults whose lives are shortened by illness.”
The Health District’s Tobacco Prevention and Control staff and community volunteers visit tobacco retailers throughout Snohomish County to remind them about tobacco laws restricting sales to anyone under age 18 as well as the new ban on selling flavored cigarettes. Flavored cigarettes may not be sold, even if retailers purchased the products before the September ban. The TPC team is a resource to retailers, and is available to answer questions and explain which products may still be sold: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Violations of the sales ban can be reported electronically to the FDA at www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts.
Clerks who sell tobacco to minors can be fined $50 for a first offense. The business owner is fined $100 for a first sale to a minor, $300 for a second one, and $1000 for a third plus a six-month suspension of the store’s tobacco license. A fourth illegal sale within two years will cost the retailer $1500 and a one-year license suspension. Further violations result in the permanent cancellation of the store’s tobacco license.
While Washington has made great strides in reducing smoking rates, about 45 youth start smoking each day in our state, and about 8,000 Washingtonians die each year from tobacco-related diseases. Anyone in Washington state can call the Quit Line (1-800-QUIT-NOW, and in Spanish, 1-877-NO-FUME) and receive free information, counseling, a personalized quit plan, a quit kit and referrals to local resources. Local resources for quitting also are listed on TPC’s Tobacco Resource Line: 425.339.5237.
Celebrating its 50th year of public health service to Snohomish County in 2009, the Snohomish Health District works for a safer and healthier community through disease prevention, health promotion, and protection from environmental threats. Find more information about local public health and H1N1 at www.snohd.org and www.snocoflu.com.