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County urges ending flavored tobacco sales

Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 4:04 pm

By Ken Jackson

Staff Writer

Osceola County commissioners voted on Monday to adopt a resolution urging tobacco retailers to stop the sale and marketing of flavored tobacco products in the county.

Commissioner John Quinones, a supporter of the resolution, which was adopted as part of the consent agenda Monday, said offering tobacco in berry flavors, chocolate and vanilla could make those appeal more to minors.

“We have to be careful when it comes to tobacco and our youth,” he said. “This measure is less about enforcement, and more about asking retailers to be careful with how they market those products.”

Larry Langston, who owns Cigars Plus in downtown Kissimmee, said on Tuesday that it was the first time he heard about the ordinance when asked about it. His store does sell a small amount of the flavored tobaccos, but it amounts to less than 10 percent of his overall sales and said the few customers that buy it are older who smoke it in traditional, old-fashioned pipes.

“I get referrals from other places, and if I didn’t have people asking for it I probably wouldn’t restock it when it’s gone,” he said. “But to stay in business I need to cater to all customers.”

Langston said he and his clerks are adamant about checking the identification of younger customers, and the store follows the law by not selling any tobacco to anyone under 18.

“We’re not selling anything to minors,” he said. “They can urge us not to sell it, but the law says anyone over 18 can purchase any of our products.

“Now if this ordinance said we couldn’t sell it then I wouldn’t, but I would be in opposition to that. I’m curious as to why nobody heard about it until after it was voted on.”