IT IS high time the tobacco industry was held responsible for its efforts to start young children smoking. Thank you, Suffolk Superior Court jury, for deciding against Lorillard Tobacco Co. and ordering the firm to pay both punitive and compensatory damages (“Smoker’s suit wins award of $71m,’’ Page A1, Dec. 15; “Lorillard ordered to pay $81m penalty,’’ Metro, Dec. 17).
While tobacco companies may no longer be handing out free cigarettes to children in inner-city neighborhoods, in Boston the inexpensive, candy-like array of tobacco products currently on local store shelves is a cause for alarm. Shelves are stocked with $1 cigars in flavors such as grape, blueberry, and chocolate. The products are colorfully packaged with names like Wet Mango, Apple Martini, Peach Passion, and Blueberry Burst. The tobacco industry is still marketing its addictive and dangerous products in a way likely to appeal to children.
As cigarette smoking declines among youth, their use of these cheap, candy-flavored tobacco alternatives has risen dramatically. While the public health community rejoices in the victory of the Evans family over Lorillard, we know that the fight to protect our children from tobacco industry marketing is far from over.
Director Tobacco Prevention
and Control Program
Boston Public Health Commission