Tuesday, September 29, 2009

3 shops hit for underage tobacco sales

Three local businesses recently were found in violation of state laws against selling products to minors, according to a press release from the authorities.

the inspections were conducted by the Southington Police Department’s Detective Division and Special Investigators of the Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services, Tobacco Prevention and Enforcement Program.

Under the direction and supervision of the Department of Mental Health special investigators youths under 18 employed by the Tobacco Prevention Enforcement Program attempted to purchase tobacco products at 37 establishments.

The three establishments found to be in violation are Sam’s Foods Store, 2201 Meriden Waterbury Turnpike in Marion; Milldale Mobil, 1896 Meriden Waterbury Turnpike in Milldale and Quick Mart located at 802 West St.

The offending clerks at these establishments were each issued an infraction violation with a $200 fine.

The clerk at Sam’s Foods Store was identified as Iftikhar Ahmed, age 49, of Flushing, N.Y.. Ahmed sold two Dutch Master Cigars valued at $1 each.

The clerk at Milldale Mobil was identified as Arthur Riley, age 19, of Meriden. Riley sold one Vanilla cigar valued at $1.35.

The clerk at Quick Mart was identified as Parul Patel, age 43, of Glastonbury. Patel sold one pack of Camel brand cigarettes valued at $6.32.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tobacco laws to change in October

On June 22, President Barack Obama signed into law the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, or the FSPTCA. This law grants the FDA permission to control and regulate all tobacco products.

According to the FDA’s Web site, the FDA plans to, by October, prohibit cigarettes from having “candy, fruit or spice flavors as their characterizing flavors.” The FDA is expected to set in more regulations as time passes. Such regulations may include:

By January 2010, tobacco manufacturers and importers are expected to have to submit product information to the FDA.

By April 2010, the FDA plans to reissue a 1996 regulation aimed at reducing tobacco use among minors.

By July of 2010, it is expected that tobacco manufacturers will no longer be able to use the terms “light,” “low” or “mild” without a special order from the FDA. The FDA also plans to revise warning labels on smokeless tobacco products

By October 2012, the FDA plans to strengthen the warning labels on cigarette packs.
In St. Cloud, some businesses rely on the sale of flavored tobacco products.
The Smoke Shop, located on Division Street, is one such shop

The manager of the Smoke Shop, Alex Dodin, said that Djarum cigarettes and Dream cigarettes were going to be banned along with flavored cigarillos as of Sept. 22.

He said he was not sure what else would be taken off the market and said these news laws against flavored tobacco would strongly affect his business.

“What else are they going to smoke after this?” Didon added.

Ezekial Butler, SCSU junior and CA for Stearns Hall, had some opinions on the proposed ban.

He said that he occasionally enjoyed the Dream cigarettes and will stock up before the ban takes hold.

“They [The FDA] have a decent reason to ban flavored cigarettes, but it’s unfair to those who are of age that enjoy them,” Butler said. “Even though I plan on quitting, this new ban is not going to stop me from smoking.”

The new laws that are planned to be put into affect are aimed at decreasing smoking among adolescents, but it may also have consequences for those who sell and those who enjoy smoking tobacco legally.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Importer tries to get around clove smoke ban

The nation's top distributor of clove cigarettes is offering fans a new way to get their fix after the spice-flavored cigarettes are banned later this year — cigars.

The new filtered cigars — close to the size of a cigarette and flavored with clove, vanilla and cherry — allow Kretek International Inc., which imports Djarum-brand tobacco products from Indonesia, to avoid new federal laws banning flavored cigarettes other than menthol.

The ban on flavored cigarettes, which critics say appeal to teenagers, goes into effect at the end of September. It doesn't include cigars.

The difference? Cigarettes are wrapped in thin paper, cigars in tobacco leaves. While the cigars also are made with a different kind of tobacco, the taste is similar. The cigars come 12 to a pack, rather than 20 for cigarettes, but cost nearly half as much.

The ban is one of the first visible effects of a new law signed by President Barack Obama in June that gives the Food and Drug Administration wide-ranging authority to regulate tobacco, though it can't ban nicotine or tobacco outright.

The new law gives the FDA the power to ban other products like flavored cigars, but that hasn't happened yet.

Whether the cigars are truly different or just an attempt to circumvent the ban by making superficial changes is in the hands of the FDA, said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

"The key is the legislation gives the FDA the authority to respond to these types of frankly totally irresponsible actions," Myers said.

Myers joined executives from the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and the Amercian Legacy Foundation late last month urging the FDA to take a closer look at the issue.

Often associated with hippies and other bohemians, clove cigarettes may be the most well-known target of the ban. Some major cigarette makers experimented with mint- or chocolate-flavored blends earlier this decade, but many of those products are no longer made after coming under fire, accused of targeting children.

John Geoghegan, director of brand development for Moorpark, Calif.-based Kretek International, said the private company has been "puzzled about (the ban) since the very beginning" because clove cigarettes constitute less than 1 percent of cigarettes sold in the U.S.

"For people to say, 'Well, clove is a starter cigarette or a trainer cigarette' or something was just preposterous," Geoghegan said, citing company research about when and how consumers begin smoking.

Kretek International holds a 97 percent U.S. market share with its line of Djarum clove cigarettes, a staple of Indonesian smoking culture.

The U.S. market for clove cigarettes is about $140 million annually, with about 1.25 million clove smokers. Cloves have been imported to the U.S. since the 1960s and are mostly smoked by people younger than 30.

While Geoghegan said clove cigarettes make up about 65 percent of Kretek International's business, the ban is "damaging but not fatal" because of the company's other products like lighters and pipe tobacco.

Now, clove smokers are being forced to decide whether to switch to the new cigars, or quit. Many will likely stock up or try to buy product over the Internet.

And how the ban will work remains a point of contention for shop owners who sell clove cigarettes. But the FDA says the message is clear: Flavored cigarettes are banned, and the agency has the authority necessary to enforce the prohibition.

"So, what do we do with the stuff that's on the shelves? Who eats that? Is it legal to sell until it's gone or what?" asked Jim Carlson, owner of two CVille Smoke Shop stores in Charlottesville, Va., about 70 miles northwest of Richmond.

Carlson said he sells about 3,000 packs of the flavored cigarettes a year.

"You don't make a lot of money, but still it's income ... and it brings customers into the store," he said.

Lake Isabella, Calif., resident Terry Day, 42, used to drive 240 miles round trip to buy clove cigarettes when he lived in rural Valentine, Neb. He said he might try the cigars but was dubious about whether he would like them.

"I certainly don't like to be forced into that choice," said the clove smoker of 14 years. "I'm probably going to buy me enough to last until Oct. 1, then I'm just going to have to quit."