Fired Up over New Tobacco Regulations

Harrisburg, Pa. – People who like to light up are fired up over new rules concerning how tobacco can be bought, sold and advertised. Those rules come straight from the federal government.

Smokers feel singled out and picked on. Here in Pennsylvania, every time there’s a budget crunch, cigarette taxes get raised. The state recently passed an indoor smoking ban. Now come new laws from the Food and Drug Administration. The intent is to keep kids from getting hooked, but some say those laws go too far.

The folks at Puff N Snuff are in a huff over new federal regulations of tobacco. Advertising’s been removed for being too colorful or too appealing to kids. Warning labels on smokeless tobacco must be much larger than in the past. And at this store, no one under 18 can enter – not even with a parent.

“A lot of people are very upset,” said store manager Lori Kelley. “We’ve had people that said they’re still going to bring their children in regardless. And frankly, they’re tired of the government telling them what to do, and I’m tired of them telling me how to manage my store.”

The problem for stores like Puff N Snuff is that not all of their tobacco products are behind a counter. If they were, kids would be allowed to come in without a problem. But they can’t because of all the self-serve products on shelves.

“I think it’s ridiculous, because it’s a store, and nobody’s going to buy their children cigarettes,” said customer Tammy Paulsen. “They’re going to bring them and in buy their own cigarettes. You can’t leave your child in the car, because then you get in trouble for that.”

“I think people should be able to bring their kid in just to get cigarettes and leave,” she said. “I think that’s ridiculous.”

“In Pennsylvania, 29 percent of hs students use some form of tobacco,” said Joy Meyer of the American Lung Association. She says the new regulations will save lives, and critics are wasting their breath.

“If youth get the message that it’s wrong for them to go in there, maybe they will also correlate that tobacco use is harmful – not just to them, but to their parents as well,” she said.

But the Puff N Snuff manager says what’s really unhealthy is governmental intrusion into parenting and legal enterprise. She worries the new rules will just chase her customers to grocery stores and gas stations.

“It’s very restrictive,” she said. “It’s the government telling you what to do how to go about your daily business, and its wrong.”

She also questioned why tobacco rules are far stricter than liquor. Why, she asked, are kids allowed in liquor stores and beer distributors but not tobacco shops? The new restrictions take effect next week.


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