With names like Kauai Kolada, Caribbean Chill and Twista Lime, the products sound like refreshing carbonated beverages. But these are candy-flavored cigarettes and their manufacture and marketing is leaving a sour taste in the mouth of Illinois anti-tobacco groups who accuse tobacco companies of targeting children.
“The proliferation of candy-flavored cigarettes shows that the tobacco industry, if it had any left, has lost all moral authority,” U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) said Sunday at a news conference in the Chicago Children’s Museum. “These names and the flavors contained in them are aimed directly at attracting child smokers.”
Tobacco companies have denied targeting children with the tasty-sounding cigarettes, which they said are meant to give adult smokers more variety. Surrounded by representatives from the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association, Kirk urged Congress to authorize the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products to crack down on marketing and sales to children.
In July, the U.S. Senate approved legislation that would give the FDA that regulatory authority. But the House of Representatives passed a version of the bill that does not include expanded FDA oversight.
“The U.S. Senate got it 100 percent right,” said Joel Africk, chief executive officer of the American Lung Association of Metropolitan Chicago. “If these products were just sold as mints, they would be regulated. By adding the tobacco they are not regulated. The time has come for our federal government to wake up on the issue of FDA regulations.”
In August, Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle asked tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds to end the marketing campaign for its limited-edition summer blends: coconut-flavored Kauai Kolada and the citrus-flavored Twista Lime. The ads, which Lingle called offensive, featured a girl in grass skirt holding a coconut drink in one hand and a lit cigarette in another.
Tobacco manufacturer Brown & Williamson has introduced its Kool Smooth Fusions cigarettes, featuring flavors such as Mintrigue and Caribbean Chill.
Kirk said while the tobacco industry has a powerful lobby in Washington that might thwart attempts at regulation, FDA regulation “is an idea whose time has long since come.”
Read More: Electronic Cigarette Flavors