October 31, 2017
Jennifer Miller, 608-266-1683
Elizabeth Goodsitt, 608-266-1683

Health Officials Launch "Tobacco is Changing" Campaign to Inform Parents About Flavored Tobacco Products

The Department of Health Services (DHS) today launched a campaign to inform parents about brightly packaged, candy-flavored tobacco products targeted to appeal to children. The “Tobacco is Changing” campaign is scheduled to run through February in various media.

“Some 80 percent of youth tobacco users say their first tobacco product was flavored, and we want parents to be able to talk with their children early about these products,” said State Health Officer Karen McKeown. “Cigarettes are now just one small part of a larger tobacco conversation.”

Thirteen percent of Wisconsin high school students report using e-cigarettes, compared to 8 percent who use conventional cigarettes, and 88 percent of high school teens say they wouldn’t try e-cigarettes if they weren’t flavored, according to the 2016 High School Youth Tobacco Survey.

The new campaign features pictures of the range of tobacco products now available, including e-cigarettes and e-liquids that come in flavors like Gummy Bear, cherry, grape and root beer float; flavored small cigars and cigarillos; and smokeless products like chew and snus. In recent focus groups, Wisconsin parents expressed surprise and concern about the new products, their flavors and bright packaging.

Nicotine can harm the parts of the brain that control attention and learning, according to the U.S. Surgeon General. Tobacco is the state’s leading cause of preventable death, costing over $4 billion annually in health care and lost productivity, according to the 2015 Burden of Tobacco in Wisconsin report.

Parents can view the campaign’s materials to learn more about the new tobacco products. Tobacco users who want to stop smoking can get free help by calling 1-800-QUIT NOW.