City Council proposed ban on flavored tobacco is tasteless
What’s your favorite flavor of La Croix? I personally like the classics like lime, pampelmousse (grapefruit), lemon, etc. You know what flavor I rarely if ever find myself reaching for? Natural. It seems like common sense to want to ingest something with taste or flavor.
Quaker doesn’t sell natural oatmeal flavored oatmeal packets because that’s gross. If part of being an adult means adopting a diet of Grape Nuts, rice cakes and under-seasoned chicken breasts, give me the kids menu. Unfortunately, Aspen City Council might apply this rule to tobacco products.
If you want to vape, chew or smoke, get ready for strictly tobacco-flavored tobacco. I don’t Juul, rip grits or dip, but I do enjoy a flavored blunt wrap or a cigar on the golf course every now and then. However, if you prefer to puff Newports or any kind of menthol, you’re going to have to go downvalley because our parents, er, I mean City Council, knows best.
I’m not pro-cigarettes; I think they’re gross, but how far will City Council overstep its authority in the name of the children? Will flavored alcohol be banned next because it’s the preferred substance of people with less-developed palates? How about weed-infused gummies and other edibles?
By 2030, the only booze on the shelves will be rubbing alcohol and hops-less beer, weed will be cancer-flavored and smoking tobacco will be a fineable offense. Yes, teenagers are attracted to flavored vape pens, but so is everyone else who vapes.
A person who walks into an ice cream shop and orders vanilla over two-dozen actual flavors is a person you should question.
The more complex issue, though, is teenage substance abuse. I don’t have children and have no business telling anyone how to raise their kids. That said, the best advice I received from my parents was when my dad acknowledged that teens — including himself at one time — do experiment with drugs and alcohol. Obviously he emphasized that it’s not OK, but stressed that if you do try things, be safe.
Telling them they can’t do X because it tastes too good is like telling them they can’t have sex because it feels too good. The lone stance can’t be to “just say no,” especially in a town like Aspen that borderline glorifies drugs and alcohol.
How many “abstinence doesn’t work” studies do we need before people realize it doesn’t actually work?
I’m not saying introduce your children to illicit substances, because that’s shown to be terrible parenting. However, informing them how to deal with friends who indulge, how to be responsible when/if they do drink/smoke and how to handle other real-life situations is helpful.
I have a friend who went through an experience not far off from the tragic event that left a 16-year-old Basalt High School student dead due to drinking and driving Friday. He and some friends were drinking, got into a car wreck and one person eventually died. I’m not making excuses for the 18-year-old who made an awful decision Friday or my friend who was driving that night in the early 2000s; they made poor choices that led to the death of a friend. It was about as irresponsible behavior as you’re going to find.
As people get older, they typically get smarter and become more educated about drinking and driving or other substance issues, and that knowledge should be shared readily. It should be on parents, educators and mentors — not city government — to relate to youth how to imbibe responsibly because Aspen’s hard-partying culture isn’t going anywhere soon, unless City Council wants to implement a moratorium on drinking and smoking during daylight hours.
And this brings me back to my original point: I’m not sure it’s City Council’s job to regulate and pull products off the shelves that aren’t illegal.
They increased taxes on cigarettes and upped the age to buy tobacco, but can they definitively show that Shell is a hub for teenage tobacco sales?
Eliminating products that some adults enjoy and know how to use feels like a reach, even more so when you consider a few of them are on their way out. If council wants to deter teenagers from smoking, maybe try an education program put on by professionals rather than more or less identifying which tobacco products teens should try first.
Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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