Utah - bill introduced that makes it a misdemeanor to buy or sell flavored tobacco products..

August 20, 2010 - Flavored nicotine candies and mints, tobacco and moist snuff would be outlawed in Utah under a bill introduced yesterday at the state legislature. Representative Paul Ray’s bill is a stricter version of failed proposal from earlier this year. He says it’s intended to protect children attracted to the flavors like bubblegum, grape, cherry and chocolate. And this is something he knows from first-hand experience.

“I actually had some samples of the nicotine candies at home one day. And my seven-year-old came up with the packet one day, I had them sealed in a package, and said, ‘Dad, can I have some of your candy?’ I no longer keep that at my house anymore,” Ray said.

The Utah Department of Health conducted a study on nicotine novelties that shows children are confused by the products, thinking they’re candy, and 40 percent of the children polled said they’d consider trying them just based on the packaging.

The FDA banned flavored cigarettes last year, but exempted menthols, smokeless tobacco and cigars. Ray’s bill makes it a misdemeanor to buy or sell flavored tobacco and nicotine candies, but exempts electronic cigarettes and tobacco cessation products.

Back in March 2010 the Utah County Health Department was turning its attention to tobacco lozenges. Kari Schmidt, with the department's promotions division, said the department will work on a public-education campaign targeting dissolvable tobacco products, such as Camel Orbs. The products look like lozenges, breath strips or candy sticks, yet contain up to three times the amount of nicotine found in a cigarette.

Schmidt told the Utah County Board of Health that an effort to regulate the products, which are packaged like candy or mints, failed to pass the legislature.

Health officials say the products are the tobacco industry's latest attempt to hook people as smoking itself becomes restricted or socially unacceptable. The new products, Schmidt said, appear to be targeted at youth.

Provo, Utah - county warns about dangers of dissolvable tobacco products..

But Dave Davis, who represents Utah merchants, told the committee the flavored products aren’t intended for children. And he said the state would be embarking on a slippery slope.

“Today, we’re talking about tobacco and tomorrow it may be caffeine, because it has some of the same characteristics as well,” Davis said. “And further on down the road, the government may decide that maybe that Twinkie is not so good for you, or trans-fats.”

References: Flavored Tobacco Ban Gets First Legislative Hearing by Elizabeth Ziegler, KCPW, 8/19/2010; Utah lawmaker wants to ban flavored tobacco, Daily Herald - Associated Press, 8/17/2010.

Other Utah news briefs:
Utah - governor does not prevent tobacco tax increase from becoming law..;
Provo, Utah - county warns about dangers of dissolvable tobacco products..;
Utah - lawmakers approve one dollar increase in tax on a pack of cigarettes - now measure goes to governor..;
Utah - increase tobacco excise tax by $1.00 - we doubt it will happen..;
Proposal to increase Utah cigarette tax falters..;
Utah - philanthropist Jon Huntsman Sr., supports big boost in tobacco tax..;
Utah Bars Go Smokefree January 1, 2009..;
Utah moves from a tax based on the percentage of sales price to one based on the weight - independent of price of smokeless tobacco product..