In a new poll released by the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Vermont and the Flavors Hook Kids Vermont Campaign, 68% of Vermonters say they support legislation pending in the state legislature to end the sale of flavored tobacco products. Big Tobacco has relentlessly targeted youth with flavored tobacco including fruit and candy-flavored e-cigarettes, menthol-flavored cigarettes, and other flavors. A bill to end the sale of flavored tobacco products, S.18, which has already passed the Senate, will be in front of the Vermont House of Representatives in January.
The poll found that support for ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products comes from a broad-based coalition of Vermonters, including voters across the political spectrum and in every area of the state.
“Vermonters are incredibly concerned about the rates of youth tobacco addiction, and they value protecting kids’ health over profits for tobacco companies,” said Tina Zuk of the American Heart Association. “79% of Vermonters are concerned about young people in their communities smoking cigarettes and using vapes or other tobacco products. This poll tells us there is incredible support for ending the sale of flavored tobacco products in Vermont.”
The poll also found that, by a more than 2-to-1 margin, voters think that ending the sale of flavored tobacco products is a good idea because flavored tobacco gets young people to become addicted to tobacco products (66%) versus just 28% of voters saying it is a bad idea because it interferes with adults’ freedom to purchase tobacco in the flavors of their choice. Notably, after hearing an equal number of messages for and against the legislation, support for ending the sale of flavored tobacco increased to 72%.
“Our members, school leaders throughout the state, are seeing students become addicted to nicotine through vaping,” notes Jay Nichols, head of the Vermont Principals Association. “Vaping often starts because flavored vaping products appeal to our students, often getting them ‘hooked’ as early as middle school.”
More than 2.8 million middle and high schoolers still use tobacco products, with e-cigarettes being the most popular. Today nearly 90% of youth e-cigarette users are using flavored products, according to the 2023 National Youth Tobacco Survey.
Vermont pediatrician, Dr. L. E. Faricy said, “Pediatricians, parents, and schools continue to struggle to support a large number of youth with nicotine dependence. Young people tell us they start using electronic cigarettes in part because the flavors are appealing and make the product seem benign. Flavors in tobacco products help introduce kids to nicotine at a critical developmental stage and can be very damaging to brain development. Young people in the state of Vermont deserve to have a good chance of reaching adulthood without being targeted for addiction to substances by corporations. The bill before you is what prevention looks like – reduce the appeal of and demand for harmful products by eliminating flavors as a hook.”
Methodology: The research firm Expedition Strategies conducted 500 total interviews in Vermont with a sample of likely 2024 general election voters. The interviews were conducted November 14-19, 2023. The margin of error for overall results is ±4.38% and higher among subgroups.
The Flavors Hook Kids Vermont campaign includes the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Vermont and dozens of local, state, and national organizations dedicated to protecting kids from all tobacco products and addiction. More details can be found at https://flavorshookkidsvt.org/.