At Missoula Council meetings I have listened in on, several Missoula tobacco retailers celled themselves good neighbors and pillars of the community. But what good neighbor also says they will pull their support for local nonprofits when we ask them to stop marketing deadly products to our kids?
No doubt lawsuits will follow and monetary costs to community accumulate. Apparently, retailers care more about profit than children’s health.
National groups like Americans for Prosperity, R Street and RJ Reynolds have injected themselves into our local discussions, demonstrating the outside interests of companies beyond those of friendly "mom and pop" stores down the block. As is their history, Big Tobacco uses local retailers to target kids and maintain their clientele with newly addicted youth as the adults die off. The industry spends $1 million per minute on in-store marketing such as product displays and advertisements at children's eye level.
All of which is why it's so disappointing to see City Council exempting menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars and chew from its proposed flavored tobacco ordinance. These are "starter products" for tobacco addiction, a disease that begins for most in childhood. Not restricting them continues the supply of young victims for Big Tobacco.
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