Other Tobacco Products (OTP)
Tobacco is especially harmful to kids. Tobacco use changes the pathways of the adolescent brain and interferes with normal development. Adolescents who start to smoke are more likely to become addicted to nicotine and even to later develop mental illness and drug addiction.
The tobacco industry is targeting your kids—right in your own backyard. The tobacco industry depends on kids’ impulse buys - The impulse control part of adolescents’ brains is not fully developed, leaving them vulnerable to making decisions without thinking them through. The industry takes advantage of this, encouraging impulse buys of cheap “other tobacco products” (OTP) through three tactics: packaging, availability, and price:
- Packaging - fun packaging attracts kids - Colorful, fun packaging makes tobacco seem harmless and familiar. Many of these products are candy-flavored to disguise the bad taste of tobacco and further appeal to kids.
- Availability - the products’ placement makes them available to kids - Tobacco is sold in convenience stores, gas stations, supermarkets…even in pharmacies. This availability sends the message that tobacco is harmless and acceptable. It also makes it very difficult to properly control the sale of tobacco products.
- Price - low prices prevent second thoughts - Price is the most powerful tactic the tobacco industry uses.
We know that when tobacco prices are high, kids think twice about spending their money on these products. The opposite is also true, and the tobacco industry knows it. The tobacco industry is pricing these products very inexpensively to encourage impulse buys by young people. Some single cigars are sold for as low as 25 cents.
These products are still capable of causing addiction and serious health effects, even though many believe them to be a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes.
As state taxes have pushed the price of cigarettes up, the youth cigarette smoking rate in Massachusetts has been pushed down. But even as the youth cigarette smoking rate decreases in Massachusetts, young people’s use of these other, cheaper, tobacco products has increased. See www.makesmokinghistory.org for further information.
What can you do?
- Support statewide tobacco taxes
- Support local policy actions, such as:
- Ban on sale of single cheap cigars (packaging/price)
- Ban on sale of tobacco in pharmacies (availability)
- Strengthening youth access regulations (availability)
84% of Massachusetts youth don't smoke, and many are working to combat Big Tobacco’s influence on their communities. Visit www.the84.org to join the movement against the industry led by youth for youth and visit getoutraged.org to learn more about opposing the tobacco industry.