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Monday, October 18, 2021

The Gainesville City Commission’s stance against the sale of candy-flavored tobacco products will officially go on the record with the passing of a new resolution Thursday.

The City Commission’s resolution urges vendors around the city to stop selling and marketing flavored tobacco as a way to reduce exposure of the products to children and young adults.

Andrew Romero, a tobacco prevention specialist at the Alachua County Health Department, said Gainesville High School students from Students Working Against Tobacco originally brought the issue to light during a citizen’s comment meeting on Dec. 15.

The city commission decided to conduct its own research on the issue and heard from experts that the products were being marketed to youths using flavoring, he said.

Gainesville City Spokesman Bob Woods said the city is currently not considering a ban, but the resolution will be a way to raise awareness about the flavored tobacco issue.

Romero said research studies cited by the Food and Drug Administration have shown children and teenagers are more likely to use candy- and fruit-flavored tobacco products than adults.

“One in six youths between the ages of 11 and 17 has tried flavored tobacco here in Alachua County,” he said. “That’s roughly 2,300 Alachua County public school youths.”

In 2009, the FDA banned the sale of flavored cigarettes nationwide. The law does not currently apply to other flavored tobacco products, including dipping tobacco, cigarillos and smokeless tobacco.

Some cities have taken steps to ban the sale of the flavored products.

On Tuesday, the Miami-Dade County Commission preliminarily approved a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco in a 12-1 vote. Miami now joins New York City, Providence, R.I., Santa Clara, Calif., and other cities that currently ban flavored tobacco product sales.

Jason Lee, 27, general manager of the Land B4 Time Smoke Shop, said he disagrees with the city commission urging vendors to stop flavored tobacco sales.

Lee said the majority of his store’s sales come from flavored tobacco.

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He said he prevents underage children from buying his products by only allowing people 18 years or older in the store.

“There is no way kids are getting into my shop without an ID,” he said.

Several gas stations along Archer Road declined to comment.

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