COLLIER COUNTY, Fl. (WBBH) - Florida's Collier County Health Department is concerned about candy-flavored tobacco they say targets children.
Unfortunately, they can't do anything to keep the products off store shelves.
"Some of these products might be located in your home and parents might not even know they are tobacco products just because of the way they are marketed," said Rachel Brandhorst with the Collier County Health Department.
Brandhorst says candy-flavored tobacco products target children, using fruit and candy flavors to mask the harsh taste of tobacco and get kids hooked early-on.
"A lot of kids are doing it," said Nicole Cardenas, a Collier student who is part of the 'Students Working Against Tobacco' group. "Their parents might not know, they're probably getting it off the streets, from friends and even family members."
Cardenas says students are tricked into thinking candy-flavored tobacco isn't as harmful as regular tobacco-but the health effects are the same.
"Tobacco use is leading preventable cause of disease and death," said Brandhorst.
In 2009, candy-flavored cigarettes were banned in Florida, but flavored cigars, cigarillos and chewing tobacco weren't included in the ban.
"The tobacco industries create products every year to try and get around those restrictions."
Anyone 18 years and older can legally buy the candy-flavored tobacco at convenience stores across Southwest Florida and county health officials say there's nothing they can do about it.
Collier County had passed resolution urging vendors to stop selling the products, but only a state law can actually ban them.
"A resolution really doesn't have teeth," said Brandhorst. "We are passing them just as a way to bring awareness to this issue."