Chocolates and candies are a Valentine’s Day tradition! Unfortunately, candy flavors like grape, cherry, and apple are also making Other Tobacco Products (OTPs) more popular with kids. Teens, like me, see flavored tobacco products every time we walk into a gas station or convenience store. Sometimes when they’re right next to each other it’s hard to tell the difference between the flavored OTPs and candy.
Last year, the Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention and Poverty Network (WTPPN) FACT group I’m a member of conducted environmental scans at retail stores in Milwaukee. Our goal was to examine the way tobacco companies advertise products, especially flavored ones, in our community.
Participating in important activities like the scan is why FACT, Wisconsin’s youth tobacco prevention movement, is able to spread awareness that tobacco products, even ones flavored like “gummy bear” or “chocolate covered cherry” aren’t treats and that they’re sometimes placed next to real treats in stores to confuse teens.
We don’t want teens to be fooled by candy flavors and bright colors. During Valentine’s Day Fact groups around the State are doing Trick Not Treat activity that shows how tobacco products can easily be mistaken for candy due to their colorful packaging and fruity flavors.
Remember, these flavors may seem like a sweet treat, but really, tobacco addiction is actually harsh and deadly.