The media and certain local elected officials are working overtime to ban flavored tobacco and menthol products from retail shelves. The latest article centers around a study performed by the USC Health, Emotion, and Addiction Laboratory.
Adam Leventhal, Ph.D., studied 478 Los Angeles students and based on students answers, in response to a questionnaire provided by USC, it was determined that students were “hooked” on the products because of the flavors.
2UrbanGirls read the article, published in the Los Angeles Times, and had many questions, because the root of the problem was not addressed, so we reached out to Leventhal for clarity.
Retail stores are facing bans despite many following the rules of not selling to persons under the age of 21, so it was confusing as to how Leventhal had 478 10th and 11th graders using tobacco products for nearly a year.
We asked Leventhal if his study questioned HOW the teens were able to obtain these products.
No, we did not ask them that.Adam Leventhal, Ph.D.
Leventhal declined to answer whether the study participants were offered referrals for their “addiction” to tobacco, fully aware that their is a concerted effort to link flavored tobacco to recent deaths allegedly tied to the product.
Another respected researcher had issues with Leventhal’s study too.
Bruce Nye, president of the board of the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Assn., said the number of students included in the study was too small for researchers to draw concrete conclusions about a link between vaping flavors and teens’ vaping habits. He added that the researchers didn’t conduct any tests to see whether making sweet favors off-limits led to reduced vaping and called the study “junk science.”
Prior studies show that long term smokers are diagnosed with either emphysema and/or lung cancer. Recent deaths are just identified as lung related.
What could elected officials do besides an outright ban?
Commission more studies. One would be providing a task force between law enforcement and the school districts.
By assembling a similar task force, as those tasked with catching fare evaders on the bus or train, they would be able to learn if kids are being enabled by adults who are buying the products for them.
Law enforcement would also be able to learn if retailers are selling to minors and/or if the teens are asking adults, who either loiter or panhandle in front of the liquor/tobacco store, to purchase then hand them the product once the purchase is made.
Retail establishments shouldn’t be punished for following the law. Adults who enable teens to smoke, by supplying them with tobacco products, should be.