LITTLE ROCK, AR -- MISRGO at UAPB was established in 2002 as an initiative of the Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement. The Office is responsible for addressing tobacco consumption within Arkansas’ minority communities by preventing the initiation of use among youth, promoting cessation, eliminating exposure to secondhand smoke, and identifying and eliminating disparities of tobacco use among different population groups. Tobacco companies are marketing flavored cigars, cigarillos, snuff, and other products such as dissolvable strips that are mint, cherry, strawberry, watermelon…all kinds of flavors we would normally associate with Jolly Ranchers. Tobacco companies are packaging these products to look like gum and candy to attract the eyes of kids who recognize the colors and designs. Parents particularly should continue talking to their kids about the dangers of using tobacco of any form. Be honest with your kids about how tobacco companies are trying to target them specifically. Flavored cigarettes were banned federally in 2009. But, tobacco companies get around that by calling the products cigars and cigarillos (although it is essentially the same thing.)
Cities have a right to ban flavored products as can the state. Gather other concerned citizens and champions on city councils to take a stand on banning flavored products in their town via a city ordinance.The Minority Initiative Sub-Recipient Grant Office recently awarded over $1M to twenty nonprofit organizations across the state to further tobacco prevention and cessation in minority communities. Many of their sub-grantees will include in their programs education about the implications of flavored tobacco especially with kids.
Minority calls to the Arkansas Tobacco Quit Line, 1-800-QUIT-NOW, have increased by 6% in the last year and continue to do so each month. We are very proud of this and want to continue with this success and that means actively responding to new challenges such as flavored tobacco products.
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