Flavored nicotine candies and mints, tobacco and moist snuff would be outlawed in Utah under a bill introduced yesterday at the state legislature. Representative Paul Ray’s bill is a stricter version of a failed proposal from earlier this year. He says it’s intended to protect children attracted to the flavors like bubblegum, grape, cherry and chocolate. And this is something he knows from first-hand experience.
“I actually had some samples of the nicotine candies at home one day. And my seven-year-old came up with the packet one day, I had them sealed in a package, and said, ‘Dad, can I have some of your candy?’ I no longer keep that at my house anymore,” Ray said.
The Utah Department of Health conducted a study on nicotine novelties that shows children are confused by the products, thinking they’re candy, and 40 percent of the children polled said they’d consider trying them just based on the packaging.
But Dave Davis, who represents Utah merchants, told the committee the flavored products aren’t intended for children. And he said the state would be embarking on a slippery slope.
“Today, we’re talking about tobacco and tomorrow it may be caffeine, because it has some of the same characteristics as well,” Davis said. “And further on down the road, the government may decide that maybe that Twinkie is not so good for you, or trans-fats.”
The FDA banned flavored cigarettes last year, but exempted menthols, smokeless tobacco and cigars. Ray’s bill makes it a misdemeanor to buy or sell flavored tobacco and nicotine candies, but exempts electronic cigarettes and tobacco cessation products.