Smokeless tobacco products are apparently a big hit with Holmes County teenagers.
Christopher Lauen,Tobacco Prevention Coordinator, says, "They commonly think that smokeless, not being cigarettes or cigars, it's somehow healthier and in many times, they think it tastes better, it looks better, it must be better for you."
But Holmes County Health Department Tobacco Prevention Coordinator Christopher Lauen says the effects of smokeless tobacco are just as harmful.
And he's worried the latest entry into the category, candy-flavored tobacco products, will attract even more users. The products include chewing tobacco, snuff, 'snus' which is a modern version of snuff and dissolvable tobacco.
He says those products "...are just like the Listerine strips that you would pull out of your packet, place on your tongue, they would basically instantly dissolve."
Lauen accuses the tobacco companies of using a 'back-door' approach to market to teenagers. The Holmes County Health Department is working with community organizations to educate people about it's 'sweet deception.'
"So many flavors, the flavors are endless, it's really ridiculous at how creative they've become."
In fact, the county currently ranks 2nd highest in the state in the number of teenagers who use smokeless tobacco.
Health officials say 1 in 4 male students admitted to using it in the last 30 days. In less than 5-minutes, Lauen purchased this 6-dollar can of peach-flavored (Skoal) Snuff from the local BP store known for selling the products to teenagers.
"He told me 'peach is very, very good so take the peach, as we open it up and smell it, it is exactly that, it's very sweet smelling."
The health department is hoping local government leaders will pass an ordinance banning the products.
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