Disappointed with commissioners’ action

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To the editor:

It was with great sadness and surprise that I read the article entitled “County snuffs out teens’ tobacco resolution” in the Jan. 4, 2012 edition of the Williston Pioneer. Having grown up in Williston, I have great interest as to what my family members are exposed.

As a Registered Nurse, high school teacher, S.W.A.T. advisor and one who has lost several family members to tobacco use, I was disappointed in the commission’s rejection of the resolution. Almost 89 percent of tobacco users begin using by age 18.

My understanding of the resolution, and the one that was passed in my current home of Gulf County, is that the resolution does not BAN the sale of candy flavored tobacco, but instead, urges retailers to stop the sale and marketing of the products.

Many of these products contain two-to-five times the amount of nicotine found in a cigarette. People who use smokeless tobacco are 50 times more likely to get cancer of the cheek and gum. We are allowing our children to be exposed to these products and it needs to STOP!

My experience has proven that most parents do not even know that there is such a thing as candy flavored tobacco. However, youth do know about it and are getting their hands on it through other people purchasing it for them or, sadly, stealing the products. A recent study about flavored tobacco showed that 25 percent of youth questioned knew about flavored tobacco products compared to only 10 percent of the adults. Youth are twice as likely to recall seeing advertisement for the products as adults. Retailers need to know that when they have these products in direct view, teens and children will be intrigued by the bright packaging and similarity of packaging to other gums and candies.

Parents cannot shield their children from things of which they are not aware. The tobacco companies will have you believe that tobacco isn’t dangerous, isn’t addicting and isn’t deadly. Please believe me when I say, it is addicting, dangerous and deadly. Visit a respiratory care floor or an oncology floor at a hospital and see the results of tobacco use.

Take a look at the State of Florida’s website on tobacco at www.tobaccofreeflorida.com to learn more. 

I commend the S.W.A.T. students who presented their case to the commission and hope they are successful in their future endeavors.

I urge the Levy County Commissioners to look strongly at passing the resolution when it is revisited. It is the responsibility of all of us, including the retailers, to help protect our future. 

Thank you for your time.

Lana Harris Harrison

Williston High School Graduate Class of 1986