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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Crackdown on flavored tobacco leaves smoke shops in a haze

    Ashlee Salamon
    Ashlee Salamon

    For smokers of flavored tobacco, Sept. 22 was a dark day..

    However, for dedicated smokers of brands like Dreams or Djarum, much about the ban on flavored tobacco remains a mystery. While the Food and Drug Administration is committed to cracking down on flavored tobacco consumption by minors, legal smokers are still in a state of confusion about what the new regulation means for them.

    “”My whole take on it is that they are banning flavored tobaccos because it appeals to kids,”” said Christian Handley, an employee at The Glass Bottom Smoke Shop. “”I mean, I understand — I remember when they banned the Camel ads because (they) appealed to kids.””

    Nevertheless, as of yesterday, smokers who crave cherries will no longer be able to purchase and light up their Cherry Dreams in front of the smoke shop. Many smoke shop patrons will have to find new outlets.

    “”We have regular customers once a day or twice a day or every other day and they will get one of (the flavored cigarettes) or a selection of those and they don’t get anything else,”” Handley said.

    Hippie Gypsy manager Lauren Adkisson takes the new rule in stride. “”We live in a weird society right now. We have rules for everything,”” she said.

    “”We are at that point where it’s like, ‘Oh, another weird rule? Let’s just take it under our belt and deal with it.'””

    Although Adkisson is not a smoker herself, she disagrees with the FDA’s decision.

    “”I know that the reasons are because it’s being marketed towards kids. However, in my experience with underage smokers, they wouldn’t go for the $8 or $9 sparkly cigarette boxes, instead they go for the cheapest Marlboro or Parliament that they can find,”” she said.

    Adkisson does not think kids are the target audience for flavored cigarettes. “”You will have the 6-foot-tall football player that wants cherry flavored cigarettes and the brand new 18-year-old, meek-looking girl that wants the Marlboro 72s or (Marlboro) reds.””

    Handley agrees that kids aren’t the only ones coming into the shops initially looking for the peach-flavored cigarettes.

    Michael Cameron, clinical director of The Arizona Smokers Helpline, a local quit-smoking hotline, thinks otherwise.

    “”The tobacco companies are increasing ways at reaching a youth market,”” Cameron said. Unlike many non-smokers fighting the cause against its effects, Cameron knows what it is like to be young and under pressure to smoke.

    “”I know, I smoked around the age of 14 and it was hideous,”” Cameron said. “”Virtually everyone smoked and it was a social pressure, so everyone was going to pretend they liked the tobacco.””

    Smoke shops are still preparing for the worst. Hippie Gypsy started putting the flavored tobaccos on super-sale long before the cutoff date, and plans on purging the rest or distributing it to their employees.

    “”There is so little factual information out that everyone just has their own idea of what’s going on,”” Handley said. “”I heard that they are going to (ban) flavors that aren’t really associated with fruit like purple flavor as opposed to grape.””

    Adkisson speculated that cloves will be marketed as cigarillos (a shorter smaller version of a cigar), in order to escape the jurisdiction.

    Cameron thinks the ban is just the beginning on the crackdown on tobacco rights. “”It won’t happen overnight,”” Cameron said. “”But in a year or so, the FDA is going to start seriously regulating nicotine content.””

    The confusion has led concerned consumers of the product to seek answers from their local smoke shops.

    “”The reactions have been very mixed, from ‘what the f,’ to ‘that makes sense, I will purchase them while I can and move on to something else’ and everything in between,”” Adkisson said.

    Despite the mixed feelings, in many ways business is usual at Tucson’s smoke shops.

    “”If anything we have been having people order more of them,”” Adkisson said. Buying in bulk is all flavored tobacco connoisseurs can do until tobacco companies figure out a new way to counteract the regulation.

    For Cameron, it is a step in the right direction. “”Tobacco companies, including flavored tobacco, are targeting towards young people and we are tying to attack it in the same way that cigarette companies do. That is extremely difficult to do,”” Cameron said.

    Adkisson is just riding it out until the concerns and frustrations settle.

    “”I understand their reasoning for it, I just don’t find it entirely accurate,”” she said. “”I’m just taking it with the ebb and flow of the tides.””

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