Wakulla Commissioners Look to Repeal Flavored Tobacco Restriction

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By: Garin Flowers

Crawfordville, FL - January 22, 2013

A local county commission has decided to get rid of an ordinance banning the sale of flavored tabacco.

They had first voted it in last year, but have now changed their minds.

It was one of the first items discussed on Tuesday evening's agenda at the Wakulla County Commission meeting.

Commissioners decided whether they should keep an ordinance banning the sale of flavored tobacco in certain establishments in their county or get rid of the ordinance.

In a unanimous 5-0 vote, they decided to get rid of the ordinance, meaning stores will be allowed to sell flavored tabacco to customers that are 18 years of age or older.

The law was first voted in back in November 5, 2012.

It only allowed stores serving people 21 years of age and older to sell the product.

County officials say it was meant to keep flavored tobacco away from teens. The ordinance was supposed to go into affect February 1st of this year.

But, now they have turned around that decision after businesses complained it would take money out of their pockets.

Several people stood up at the meeting to speak in favor of keeping the ordinance.

"Me and my friends go into stores and when we see these candy flavored tobacco products, we know that it's not good for us, but the younger kids, younger than us do not know that," said Andrew Walked, a Wakulla Middle 7th Grader.

During their discussion, commissioners said this is not the final say for this topic.

They will consider other options that will help protect its citizens, but not hinder businesses from making money.

By: Mike Springer

Crawfordville, Fl-January 21, 2013

Flavored tobacco products are a big business in Wakulla County. At Mack's Country Meats, they estimate they sell about $40 worth of flavored tobacco products a day.

"The economy already is bad. People's money is tight. When you have a small business such as ours, any sale is a good sale," said Lisa Saavedra, co-owner of Mack's Country Meats.

In November, the County passed an ordinance restricting the sale of flavored tobacco products.

Now the County is calling for a repeal after businesses say it would hurt them.

Under the ordinance, only stores that serve those 21 and older could sell the product. The County says it was meant to keep tobacco away from underaged teens.

"There's also a moral responsibility not to promote a lifestyle with our youth that will continue into their adulthood," said Wakulla County Commissioner Howard Kessler

While Kessler expects the ordinance to be repealed, he says it may come back in a revised form.

If it does, business owners hope they're part of the conversation.

" Ultimately, are you going to get what you wanted out of it? Because somebody who's going to buy that is going to buy it no matter what," said Saavedra.

If it's not repealed, the ordinance takes effect February 1.

The meeting is set for 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Wakulla County Commission Complex.

Wakulla County Board of County Commissioners Release

Crawfordville, Florida – On November 5, 2012 The Wakulla County Board of County Commissioners adopted an ordinance that goes into effect February 1, 2013 restricting the selling or distribution of flavored tobacco products at stores that sell to minors. Through this ban Wakulla joins other communities on the frontlines of public health, helping to reduce the prevalence of teen tobacco use.

Flavored tobacco is tobacco products like cigars, cigarettes, snuff, chewing tobacco, smokeless tobacco products and blunt wraps that have had artificial or natural flavors added to them. In 2009, the FDA banned the sale of candy flavored cigarettes across the country, but other existing and new tobacco products were left exempt to be handled by future action.

According to Tobacco Free Florida over the last few years the emergence of new flavored tobacco products, presented in colorful and playful packaging and backed by hefty marketing budgets, have parents, teachers, health advocates, physicians, and communities rightly concerned. Flavored tobacco appeals to younger audiences. In Florida, one in six kids between the ages of 11 and 17 has ever tried flavored tobacco. The tobacco industry’s own documents show that these sweet tobacco products are designed to get children to start using tobacco products. Taking these products out of stores where our kids shop is a huge step forward towards keeping our youth tobacco free.

Starting February 1, 2013, convenience and grocery stores will not be able to sell candy flavored tobacco products which will be enforced by the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office. Any other stores that only allow access to people over the age of 21 are able to continue selling flavored tobacco products.

For additional information related to this story, please contact Jessica Welch, Communications and Public Services Director at (850) 926-0919 ext. 706.

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