Watch CBS News

Candy-Flavored Smokes, City's New Target In War On Teen Smoking

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The Kenney administration took on Big Soda with a tax on sugary beverages, and now it's taking on Big Tobacco.

Health officials and community leaders unveiled the campaign Friday to target flavored products that it says are aimed at minority youth.

READ: Victim Who Lost Legs In Center City Building Collapse Awarded $95.6M

Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley hopes Philadelphia teens will find this anti-smoking rap as persuasive as the bright-colored, candy-flavored cigar-like smokes that beckon to them from convenience stores.

"And they push these cheap cigarillos primarily in low income and minority neighborhoods," he said.

Farley says there's been a decline in teen smoking, here, over several years, But, recently, an increase in cigar smoking.

They are calling the campaign to reverse that, "Break the Cycle."

ALSO READ: Bottle Cap Creator Crown Holdings Plan To Move HQ Out Of Philly

It's using not only ads, but influential community members such as Imam Mikal Shabazz.

"Big tobacco companies profit from the sale of products that are as dangerous as loaded guns," he said. "These products represent a form of violence against our children."

NAACP President Rodney Muhammad
NAACP President Rodney Muhammad -- Credit: Pat Loeb

NAACP president Rodney Muhammad calls it a civil rights issue.

"This is nothing short of a chemical assault, said Muhammad. "We have to go to war with these companies. They fight for profits. We're fighting for lives. It has to take on even more than a campaign. It's gotta be a crusade."

The health department is also stepping up enforcement of laws prohibiting tobacco sales to minors.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.