You may ask: what are flavored cigarettes? According to the FDA, flavored cigarettes are defined as any cigarette tasting of cloves, fruit, or candy. The term “flavored cigarettes” does not include menthol cigarettes at this time. The sale of flavored cigarettes in the United States was banned on September 22, 2009 as part of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. This ban was put in force with the intent of preventing more children from picking up their first smoke, never dreaming they may be on the road to an adult addiction.
Why flavored cigarettes are a threat to children
Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, the FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner and a pediatrician to boot, reports that “Youth are twice as likely to report seeing advertising for these flavored products as adults are.” That is a frightening thought, and seems as if the tobacco companies are deliberately targeting our youth. The target group for advertising of any cigarette should be adults, as they are of legal age to smoke. Why target children if they can’t even legally buy the product? According to this New York Times article, Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg states “These flavored cigarettes are a gateway for many children and young adults to become regular smokers.”
What is a “Gateway Drug” then?
A gateway drug is a substance that seems to bring you little or no harm, yet will lead to the use of more powerful and harmful drugs and/or substances. You can read the exact definition of gateway drug at The Free Dictionary here. A study at Columbia reports that children who use or used gateway drugs are up to 266 times more likely than another to try cocaine. The National Center for Victims of Crime reports that fifty percent of the people arrested for crimes in the United States are under the influence of drugs at the time of their arrest, and that there is a direct link between drug use and those that commit robbery. Most people would agree that gateway drugs are a serious threat to our children and to society as a whole.
How you can help
You can start helping right now with your own children. Conversation and education are tools against drugs. If you don’t have children and would like to help, maybe you have a younger brother or sister that could use some guidance. Big Brothers Big Sisters is a quality organization always looking for qualified volunteers. There are a multitude of online resources you can use in the fight against tobacco, other gateway drugs, and drugs. D.A.R.E and Time to Talk can get you started and off in the right direction.