Davenport’s Cigarette Outlet store has a policy that goes into effect Tuesday: Anyone under the age of 30 will be carded before they buy tobacco products or liquor.
“That’s our new company policy,” said Jessica Nicholson, the store manager. “They have to prove their age.”
The legal age to smoke remains at 18 years, but federal law has forced changes in advertising and marketing at convenience stores such as the Cigarette Outlet. Stores are working to comply.
At the same time, people who smoke say a different package or warning device won’t dissuade them from buying cigarettes in the first place.
Thomas Garcia Sr. is more concerned about the price of cigarettes than the labeling, but the 36-year-old does want to know whether a cigarette has “low tar” content or is “mild” in taste.
“That would be my concern,” the Davenport man said, explaining that he wants to know the taste of the product before he buys it.
Garcia’s questions about taste are common, said K.C. Ramesh of the Aman Travel Center in downtown Davenport. The store is busy with customers who buy cigarettes, but confusion is common as the packages change to very simple trademarks and color designs.
Tightened federal regulations mean more accurate information is required on the products so that consumers can make better decisions, said Brooke Barnes, the Scott County coordinator for Tobacco Free Q-C.
“With the youth smoking rate in Iowa hovering at around 19 percent, the new FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) regulations will help heighten awareness for youth about not starting smoking and tobacco use,” Barnes said in an e-mail.
Different cigarette packages don’t bother Amanda Connolly, a 28-year-old student at Scott Community College’s Kahl Educational Center in Davenport. Connolly, who has smoked since she was 15 years old, uses the habit to calm
“The packages won’t change me,” she said, noting that she does try to quit smoking from time to time.
Bob Thennis, 56, of Davenport has smoked for more than 40 years and has seen a lot of package designs in that time. The various warning labels don’t affect him, and he’s not planning to stop smoking anytime soon, he said. Thennis picked up the smoking habit as a teen, particularly when he served in the military. He is also a student at the Kahl Educational Center.
Dennis Green, 43, of Davenport doesn’t care whether cigarette containers come in “hundreds of different colors,” he said. While the bright colors might attract more youth interest, it won’t affect his own decision on whether or not to smoke, he said.