Elkhart County panel discusses increase in youth smoking, impact of flavored tobacco products

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ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. - Leaders in Elkhart County held a panel Thursday to discuss the increase in tobacco use amongst teenagers and young adults and how flavored tobacco products have contributed to that increase.

According to panelists, 97% of the 192 tobacco retailers in Elkhart County sell flavored tobacco products.

Adrienne Thomas, Project Manager of Tobacco Control of Elkhart County, said flavored products enhance the tobacco flavor and decrease the social stigma typically associated with smoking.

Because of the amount of high school and middle school students using these products, the Elkhart County Health Department wants to ban all flavors.

Panelists recommended transparency between parents and students to help curb use.

"If a kid knows that they gonna get in trouble, they're not gonna tell you the truth," said Lt. Kris Hersehberger, a Wa-nee School Resource Officer. "We as parents know when our kids are lying, but giving them that option of let's talk about this, let me ask you some questions to see what you know, because they are walking into the bathrooms and seeing it."

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