America is less accepting of smoking than it once was. Smoking bans in hospitals, airports, restaurants, bars and public spaces have helped curb the growth of smoking in the United States education campaigns and regulatory changes have also taken their toll on traditional cigarette smoking. As smoking continues to decline, a slew of alternative tobacco products have emerged. Among them are:
Cigars – Cigars are nothing new, but the cigars on today’s convenience store shelves bear little resemblance to their predecessors. To skirt cigarette taxes designed to discourage smoking, tobacco companies have begun marketing “little cigars that resemble cigarettes.” These mini-cigars come in numerous flavors including grape, strawberry, apple, rum and tequila. Flavoring agents mask the unpleasant smell of tobacco, and the cigars are often placed on store shelves near candy where their colorful packaging attracts children’s attention.
Hookah – Hookahs are water pipes used to smoke flavored tobacco known as shisha. Shisha is often mixed with molasses and fruit flavors to mask the taste and smell of the smoke. In recent years, hookah bars have enjoyed a dramatic rise in popularity. Because hookah smoke is “filtered” through a layer of water, it is often perceived as a safer form of tobacco use. Nothing could be further from the truth. Like cigarette smoking, hookah use causes lung disease, heart disease, oral cancers and other ailments.
Tobacco Pouches – Tobacco pouches contain smokeless tobacco conveniently contained in a small teabag-like sack. One such product is known as “Snus” (pronounced “snoose”). A Camel-branded product, Snus, is promoted as a nicotine-replacement product for environments unfriendly to cigarette smoking. Ads for snus promote use in airports, hotels, and at work.
Orbs, Sticks and Strips – Both R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris have developed nicotine delivery mechanisms that resemble candy. “Orbs” resemble tiny mints and come in a variety of flavors. “Sticks” resemble toothpicks, and “Strips” melt in the mouth to deliver a powerful and addictive dose of nicotine to the user. These products are designed to be swallowed in order to make the use of the product more discrete.
Tobacco is Tobacco
Despite efforts to rebrand its product, smoking alternatives contain both nicotine and disease-promoting toxins. As U.S. regulators ratchet up pressure on tobacco companies, history suggests they will find alternative methods of packaging and marketing their products. By staying aware of their marketing tactics, you can help make your community tobacco-free.