"In the past several years, an abundance of new tobacco and nicotine products have come on to the market, including in our local community," said Lynne DeMoor, who coordinates Tobacco Reduction Coalition for the Health Department. "These products are heavily marketed to young people through advertising and the use of colorful packaging and flavoring."
Thirty-six agencies conducted the scan in 806 venues located within 45 Michigan counties. Scanned venues included gas stations, convenience stores, grocery stores, pharmacies, and others. The Health Department of Northwest Michigan participated in the scan, visiting 33 venues in Antrim, Otsego, Emmet & Charlevoix Counties.
Among all venues scanned statewide, 98% sold newly emerging products. Snus and e-cigarettes were the top two products sold. Other products sold included hookah, orbs, dissolvable strips or sticks, nicogel, crush, and nicotine drops. The products were available in a variety of flavors including mellow, mint, frost, peppermint, winterchill, robust, citrus, vanilla, cherry, and many others.
The tobacco industry markets these products as an alternative to smoking cigarettes and portrays the products as less harmful than smoking cigarettes. However, there is no evidence indicating these new products are any safer. Quitting tobacco use is one of the best steps that people can take to improve their health.
According to DeMoor, the most challenging aspects of these new products are that they can be used discretely and they are appealing to young people. "Kids can begin a lifetime of addiction to nicotine with these products, and be at risk for all of the health issues associated with tobacco use," she said. "During this busy and exciting time as kids head back to school, we want parents, caregivers, school staff, and area youth to be aware that these products are being sold in our community and that they are not a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes."
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For more information on the results of the community scan, contact DeMoor at 231-347-4640. For help in quitting tobacco use, talk with your healthcare provider, visit www.nwhealth.org, or contact the Michigan Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-784-8669.