Bill would ban flavored tobacco in Utah

Published: Monday, Feb. 14 2011 11:33 p.m. MST

An example of flavored tobacco packaging, right, that could be mistaken for candy, left.

Matt Powers , Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill before the 2011 Legislature would outlaw flavored tobacco products targeted at children, but at least one shop owner says the measure would inadvertently ban certain types of pipe tobacco as well.

Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, said his bill, HB170, is an attempt to stop the sale of flavored tobacco products, which are similarly packaged like candy and gum, to children.

"They're really targeting children with their marketing, and we also have the nicotine candy, which if a toddler gets a hold of, three or four pieces could actually cause death to the child through the toxicity of the nicotine," Ray said.

He claims flavored tobacco is aimed at roping in the next generation of tobacco users — children.

The bill would make selling flavored tobacco a class-C misdemeanor for the first offense and a class-B misdemeanor for subsequent offenses.

But shop owners are asking: What about flavored pipe tobacco?

Fred Cvar, owner of The Tinder Box, says pipe tobacco is not marketed toward children.

"It's not the sort of thing that would be ingested by anybody, let alone some kid," Cvar said. "I don't think that they would want to chew on it. If they did, it would be spit out immediately and perhaps it would have a wonderful effect on the kid to where he would never again want to ingest tobacco."

He said his store refuses to sell the products Ray is referring to and that there is no reason pipe tobacco — which is popular with older men — should be included on the bill. Leaving it in would hurt sales and tax revenue for the state, said his wife, Joan Cvar.

Ray explained that his bill is directed at products that blur the line between candy and tobacco, and pipe tobacco isn't among them. But he added that flavored tobacco is flavored tobacco.

"You've got a bit of a tradeoff, but those adults, if they like that, as they go through another state and they want to buy that, possession of it is not illegal," Ray said. "We're just saying don't market it to our kids."

The bill is currently waiting to be assigned to a committee.

e-mail: jstagg@desnews.com

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