The federal ban on flavored cigarettes that went into effect last week has forced Tempe smoke shops to remove certain stock from their shelves.
The Food and Drug Administration ban was passed to reduce the number of people who start smoking at an early age then transition into smoking more dangerous tobacco products, according to the FDA Web site.
The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act prohibits all cigarettes, tobacco, filters and rolling papers from being flavored with artificial, herbal or natural flavors excluding tobacco and menthol.
FDA spokeswoman Kathleen Quinn said the ban will be effective because these products typically appeal to a younger demographic.
“We do think this will make a difference because of the appeal and the access,” she said.
Although the purpose of the ban is to deter young people from smoking, some health officials and smokers don’t agree that the ban will have any significant influence on decreasing smoking rates.
Glenn Gaesser, the director of exercise and wellness for the College of Nursing and Health Innovation, said he doesn’t think the ban will stop smokers because the banned flavorings make up less than 1 percent of products.
“Two of the largest cigarette manufacturers in the United States have no products that are affected by it,” he said. “This is absurd.”
Ted Kaercher, manager of Headquarters, a smoke shop located on University Drive near Mill Avenue that caters mainly to ASU students, called the ban pointless from a business perspective.
“I just don’t want them telling people how they should live,” Kaercher said. “We’re supposed to be a free society. It’s hurting business at a time when businesses don’t need any more obstacles.”
Kaercher said he was prepared to pull flavored cigarettes off shelves and had been warning customers about the date the ban was going into effect, but he said the policy doesn’t clarify that flavored rolling papers are also banned.
“That came as a shock to everybody,” Kaercher said. “We’ve got all of that inventory, and technically we’re not supposed to be selling it.”
Kaercher said the government should come up with solution other than controlling businesses.
“I think they should work on educating people and not restricting the business industry,” Kaercher said. “A cigarette is a cigarette whether it’s flavored or not. Everything you do in life involves some type of risk.”
Some employees at local stores that carry flavored cigarette products said they don’t appreciate the government regulation, but some health-industry employees such as Gaesser said they aren’t sympathetic to how the regulation will affect businesses.
“I have no sympathy whatsoever,” Gaesser said. “[Cigarettes] are evil.
They pose a much greater threat to America than any other entity, including terrorism.”
Many ASU students who smoke flavored cigarettes said they have already been affected by the ban.
Journalism freshman Lauren Jordan smokes a brand of flavored cigarettes called PrimeTime, which she described as similar to mild, flavored cigars.
“I don’t think it’s fair,” she said of the ban.
Jordan hasn’t tried to buy flavored cigarettes since the ban was put into effect, but said she’s anxious about having to switch to another product once she runs out of flavored cigarettes.
“I get that they’re [banning] it because they’re advertised like candy,” she said, adding that she thinksthe FDA should put a warning label on the products instead of banning them completely.
Jordan smokes flavored cigarettes because of the added flavor and lower nicotine content and said she isn’t looking forward to making the switch to light cigarettes or menthols.
“A lot of people haven’t even heard of flavored cigarettes before,” she said. “I don’t think it’s going to make that big of a difference, but I guess we’ll see.”
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