Is It Candy or Tobacco?Sibley's ALMAS group investigates tobacco products and the marketing of these products in local shops and service stations.
By: Laura Pena, Sibley Scribe
Five million is a big number. Unfortunately, according to some sources, that is how many children living today will die prematurely because of a decision they will make as teenagers – the decision to smoke cigarettes. Smoking has been a major problem in society for decades. Evidence shows that it is harmful and even deadly to human beings. Tobacco itself, though, is really not the problem; it’s the tobacco companies who are trying to “hook” young people to the substance. The group ALMAS (Anglos Latinos Motivados a Superarse) at Henry Sibley, led by Robert Hansen, has been investigating tobacco companies’ marketing of new products for months. The newly targeted customers seem to be younger citizens, including children. ALMAS did some research around the Twin Cities area, and the results were surprising. In the many gas stations and stores, these tobacco products are located near children’s products such as silly bands with the apparent purpose of attracting children’s attention. New smokeless products come in many sizes and styles, and many come in “candy-like” form, which is also a way to attract young people. One can now even find the tobacco products in a shape of small pills resembling tic-tacs. Some products are even marketed as “non-cancerous.”
ALMAS held a presentation about their findings in December 2010. It was a way to inform the community about this major problem. The group believes that these marketing practices should be put to an end, but the help of the entire community is needed in order for this to happen.