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As cigarette smoking rates have dropped, the tobacco industry has created new products to keep users hooked and find new customers. These “other tobacco products” (OTPs) are harmful and addictive, plus they’re marketed aggressively and priced inexpensively. That’s not safe, not fair, and not good for Wisconsin.
The sweet flavors and candy-like packaging of these products makes it hard to believe that life-long smokers are the target audience. Strawberry, Grape, Apple and Chocolate are just a few of the kid-friendly flavors used for new products like little cigars and cigarillos. Some of the products even come in packaging that resembles markers and lip gloss. The reality is that these products’ harmless appearance and cheaper prices make them more appealing to young people.
With these new products on the racks, health professionals say it’s more important than ever to prevent tobacco sales to minors.
“Bright packaging, candy flavors, and the illusion of a safer product may make these products more appealing to teens,” said Cortney Draxler Assistant Coordinator of Western Wisconsin Working for Tobacco Free Living (W3TFL). “Retailers help their business and their community by checking IDs for all tobacco purchases.”
Selling tobacco products to minors can have serious consequences for retailers. Wisconsin State Statute 134.66 prohibits the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 18 and also requires training for staff that sell tobacco products. Retailers who sell to minors can receive fines as high as $500 for selling to minors and licenses can be suspended up to 30 days if they’ve had a prior violation in the previous year. Both retailers and any employees who make illegal sales are subject to fines.
Free tobacco sales training and certification is available for retailers at www.smokecheck.org, an online test developed by the Wisconsin Wins program. Wisconsin Wins is a program of the Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention and Control Program, and provides training, media and community outreach, and education to help retailers avoid hefty fines. To learn more about Wisconsin Wins go to www.wiwins.org