Teen smoking level mirrors those of adults; just under one in five. That's down from 27% 15 years ago when the state started its anti-smoking campaign. Now SWAT, or Students Working Against Tobacco, say they are being targeted once again through flavored tobacco.
"For instance, this orange tootsie roll flavor kind of looks like this cigar right here," said tenth grader Matthew Goodson. "So you think this is an obvious attempt to market to kids?" asked the reporter. Goodson answered, "I definitely agree. I definitely think so."
Students say the flavored cigars are popular on a high school campus.
"Maybe the smoking of cigarettes are down, but you see a lot of people smoking ‘blacks’, chewing tobacco.”
Federal law already prohibits the sale of candy flavored cigarettes. But a loophole allows for cigars and other products.
SWAT Coordinator Vincent Irving says the new products are a trick disguised as a treat. "The snus product is now marketed like a mint packaging. Like you see the small mints, just pop in your mouth, the same way this product is packaged, so it makes it a little bit more friendly for those who don't want people to know that they're using tobacco products."
Dozens of cities and counties have passed resolutions opposing the sale of flavored tobacco products, but Florida law pre-empts all regulation to the state
A spokesman for Altria, the nation's largest tobacco maker said his company was the only tobacco producer to argue in favor of the federal law banning flavored cigarettes. The law also requires merchants to keep tobacco products behind the counter and to require an ID for purchase. Altria does make some flavored smokeless products.