News and Events

Highlands County Board of County Commissioners Adopts a Resolution Asking Retailers to Stop the Sale of Flavored Tobacco Products that Target Youth.
June 18, 2013

On June 18, 2013, the Highlands County Board of County Commissioners unanimously passed a Resolution encouraging local retailers to voluntarily halt the sale of flavored tobacco products targeting youth.

The resolution was brought forward by the Tobacco Free Partnership of Highlands County to draw attention to the growing problem of flavored tobacco products that are not currently regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  While the FDA banned the sale of flavored cigarettes in September 2009, flavored cigars, spit tobacco, and electronic cigarettes have exploded in the marketplace.  The FDA has been granted the authority to regulate these products under The Family Tobacco Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (2009), they have yet to exercise that authority over the growing list of flavored products.

June Fisher, The Highlands County Administrator, read the Resolution into the public record before the vote.  “Research published in 2005 from the Harvard School of Public Health found that cigarette makers are targeting young smokers with new candy and liqueur-flavored brands that mask the harsh toxic properties found in tobacco smoke.  National studies have found that the vast majority of consumers of these flavored tobacco products are youth and young adults, and local research indicates that most of the local tobacco retailers sell various flavored tobacco products… that appeal to those same consumers.”

June Fisher
June Fisher, Highlands County Administrator, reads the Resolution.

“They have become the ‘starter-products’ of choice among children and teenagers,” said Dr. Barry Hummel of Quit Doc Research and Education Foundation. “This is especially important since 85% of new tobacco users start between the ages of 12 and 17, prior to the legal age”. Many of these tobacco products are sold in the retail outlets where teenagers most frequently shop. Some of the products, such as snus, do not even identify that the package contains tobacco. This leads to confusion among store clerks, making it easier for underage teens to purchase tobacco without providing identification.

Prior to the vote, there was some brief discussion regarding the resolution.

“Does this have any teeth in it?” asked District 2 Commissioner Don Elwell, “or is this just our wishing that it weren’t happening?”

“All we’re doing is just urging them to [stop]”, replied Vice Chair and District 5 Commissioner R. Greg Harris.

Highlands County Commission

After the unanimous vote to adopt the resolution, Patrice Ayala thanked the Board of County Commissioners on behalf of the Tobacco Free Partnership of Highlands County. “We are greatly appreciative, and we will definitely get the message out.”

By taking this action, Highlands County joined a growing list of local governments requesting that retailers stop selling products that are aimed at youth, enticing underage minors to try tobacco.  The cities of Sebring, Lake Placid, and Avon Park have all passed similar resolutions.  At last count, 162 individual municipalities and 50 of Florida’s 67 counties have passed similar resolutions, encouraging retailers to voluntarily stop the sale of flavored tobacco products or change the manner in which they are displayed.