Flavored tobacco

Flavors Lure Kids

Candy flavors lure kids.

Remember the story of Hansel and Gretel?  How one day when they had taken too much of their parents neglect or cruelty (whether perceived or real) they ran away.  They felt if they left a trail of breadcrumbs, they could find their way back.  Instead, the breadcrumbs were eaten by the birds and they got lost.  As they tried to find their way, they ran instead into a cottage made of candy, where a wicked witch, masquerading as a kindly old woman invited them in to enjoy whatever they pleased.

Rather than enjoying a sumptuous banquet of never-ending sweets, they became imprisoned.  The witch fattening them up to become her future dinners.

What an apt metaphor for the tobacco industry!  The tobacco industry, like any industry, is always in search of new customers.  The uniqueness of the tobacco industry, however, is that their product kills half of its long-term users.  When so many of your customers die from the use of your product you are always in need fresh replacements.   Who better than youth?  Which one of us did not have at least one day where we thought our parents were being unfair (whether they were or not) and threatened to run away?  Or loudly proclaimed “You’re not the boss of me!”?  We couldn’t wait to grow up and make our own decisions.

While many of us in our youth felt outrage over what was likely good parenting, there are many more youth that do experience hardships at home or at school that leaves them feeling lost and alone.   The tobacco industry directs its marketing at that lost feeling, showing tobacco to be an attractive adult activity: images of the rugged cowboy astride the wide-open range, socializing with the most attractive people, having the most fun without a bit of teenage awkwardness.   Add a dash of candy flavoring and you can hook a kid for life.   Some of the flavors used in tobacco products are the exact same flavors used in candies popular with adolescents, like Zots and Skittles.  It is no wonder that almost everyone who becomes addicted to tobacco started in their teen years.

A touch of menthol helps the poison go down, in the most insidious way.  In the same way that menthol is used in cough medicine, to sooth throats, it is used by tobacco industry to smooth the roughness of tobacco, making smoking easier for the person trying their first few cigarettes.  And it only takes a few to become addicted.  Once the harshness of smoking is reduced, menthol also allows people to inhale more deeply and more frequently.  This increases the level of addiction, making smoking, vaping, hookah and all forms of inhaled tobacco and nicotine harder to quit.  Menthol is also known to help open the airways so more particulate matter can gain access to the deepest parts of the lungs.

Aside from their being no reason to have a commercial tobacco industry at all, an industry solely for the purpose of selling an addictive and deadly product that is the leading cause of death, disease, and disability in the US and around the world, why would any sane society allow such a product to be made more addictive and deadly?

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