Many kids believe flavored tobacco products are less harmful than their non-flavored counterparts. In fact, the 2011 National Youth Tobacco Survey showed, more than 40 percent of U.S. youth (grades 6-12) who currently smoke, reported using flavored tobacco.

Despite a 2009 federal ban on candy and fruit-flavored cigarettes, tobacco companies continue to lure kids with cheap, sweet-flavored cigars, menthol cigarettes, and candy flavored smokeless tobacco. There’s berry, vanilla, chocolate, and cotton candy flavored cigars, e-cigarettes, chew, snuff, snus, hookah and dissolvable tobacco. Even here, in Gallatin County convenience stores, it is common to see brightly packaged fruity flavored cigars and e-cigarettes placed near and among candy; attracting kids and giving risk taking teens a false sense of safety. Check it out… shiny, single fruity flavored cigarillos are sold within 1000 ft of Bozeman High School and can be purchased for less than the price of tic-tacs.

As the FDA diligently looks for ways to extend its jurisdiction over more tobacco products than cigarettes; the communities of Bozeman, Belgrade, or Three Forks have the opportunity to effectively exercise our ability to protect our kids. The largest prevention gains can be made at the local level. New York City and Providence, Rhode Island, have successfully banned the sale of some or all flavored tobacco products. What does prevention at the local level look like to you?