Teen activists work to ban flavored tobacco

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Local teen activists are on a mission to outlaw some tobacco products they say specifically target them.

They’ve found 83 percent of New Mexicans think flavored tobacco products appeal to youth more than regular tobacco – and that’s a big problem.

That group is using their findings to ask the FDA to extend a ban on flavored cigarettes to all flavored tobacco products.

Between April 2013 and January of this year, teens from 15 New Mexico high schools surveyed nearly 2,500 New Mexicans about flavored tobacco use.

This campaign – called Distasteful – was funded through the state’s Health Department.

The teens say 17 percent of people surveyed thought flavored tobacco was probably safer than regular tobacco. Eighty-five percent of youth polled say they would be more likely to try a flavored mini cigar than an unflavored one. One teen says he got involved because of that very reason.

“A couple of years ago, I had no idea that flavored tobacco was as dangerous as non-flavored. It’s this common misconception that every teen has that it’s OK,” said Jonmichael Weaver.

The teens will send signed banners, more than 1,000 cards from those polled, and their survey results to state lawmakers.

The group is now launching a new initiative called Clear the Haze that targets hookah use.

The teens say 63 percent of people polled supported extending a ban to cover all flavored tobacco.

The FDA is already examining its options.

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