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Opinion: Youth Voices on Oakland’s Flavored Tobacc...

Opinion: Youth Voices on Oakland’s Flavored Tobacco Ban

By La Clinica de La Raza

The Sweet Influence of a Harmful Product and Addictive Habit.

Research proves many smokers today get hooked at a young age. Many of the youth from the Peer Health Education Program at La Clinica de La Raza have family members that smoke and have seen first-hand the unfortunate health risks they encounter and the financial disadvantages they struggle with. Therefore, many of the teenagers in the program choose to become involved in tobacco-prevention to help close family members become aware of the harms of tobacco use in hope that they quit.

The sweet influence of a harmful product is commonly used among teens, as Lizbeth Bautista, 16-year-old Life Academy student shares, “flavored-tobacco is incredibly popular among teens and the research shows the younger someone smokes the harder it is for them to quit. The tobacco industry purposely targets teenagers with flavored-tobacco because as they grow older the more tobacco they will buy, as addiction is a real thing.”

The tobacco industry uses packaging, pricing, and most importantly flavors to lure new young customers to picking up the addictive habit.

Lupe Hernandez, 15-year-old Life Academy student, has observed just like many of her peers the concern regarding flavored-tobacco products that are generally used by her peers.

She says, “Near my school there is a liquor store where I see classmates and other teenagers purchase flavored-tobacco products and use them at the park next to my school. It is a problem because these teenagers are exposing themselves to the addictive product that they are able to purchase for under a dollar without being carded. This issue affects my community in that young people are being targeted by the luring candy-flavored tobacco products.”

Many of the high school youth participants in the Peer Health Education Program at La Clinica de La Raza have been impacted in some shape or form by the tobacco products that seem to penetrate our most vulnerable community members, our young people! Many of the students have seen first-hand the struggles with addiction of tobacco products from the common use of seeing classmates and family members using tobacco products. It is these first-hand experiences in which have driven the youth to do something on this issue by speaking up about the importance of city-wide sales restrictions on flavored tobacco product, as they hope to prevent young people from becoming future smokers from the luring candy-flavors to the inexpensive access of purchasing these products. Addiction of tobacco is real, and preventing another generation of smokers is what the peer health educators aim to do.

The inexpensive, sweet candy tobacco-flavored products purposely targets youth to get them hooked at a young age at a high cost of long-term health problems. Two Peer Health Educators from Life Academy have shared their experiences of how tobacco affects their family, friends, and community and will continue to advocate for preventive solutions.

The Peer Health Educators from La Clinica de La Raza understand the importance of a city-wide ban on the sale of flavored-tobacco products and know this solution resides with moving into the right direction in protecting their peers to help prevent another generation of smokers.


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