A group of concerned residents has started the 'Flavors Hook Kids' campaign, in an effort to halt the sale of flavored tobacco products.

Members of the campaign include youth activists, doctors, school administrators, and public health advocates. The initiative is based on statistics that show tobacco use among Maine's youth is skyrocketing, and blames flavored tobacco products used in vape mechanisms for the increase. Some of the flavors listed in the group's media release include winter menthol, peppermint mocha, cherry crush, banana blast, pop tart, and cotton candy. These flavors are also used in cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco.

"Data shows that 4 out of 5 kids who have ever used tobacco started with a flavored product," said Hilary Schneider of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network in the media release, "and that's not an accident."

She says the flavored products are not developed for adults, but rather, as a way to 'hook kids.'

Especially dangerous, according to Waterville pediatrician Dr. Jeffrey Stone, are products that contain menthol. He says the menthol makes smoking easier, as it numbs the throat and masks the harsh taste of tobacco. This enables the smoker to inhale more deeply, making it harder for them to successfully quit smoking compared to others who smoke non-menthol products. 

The initiative claims tobacco companies are targeting young adults of marginalized communities. They hope to educate lawmakers and encourage legislation that would ban the sale of flavored tobacco products. More information about the campaign can be found on the 'Flavors Hooks Kids' website.

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