Herbal cigarettes ignite criticism
New York, Jan. 17- For those looking for an alternative to tobacco, an herbal cigarette may seem like the perfect solution. You can still smoke without the addictive nicotine. And the makers of some of these products say that theyâ€™re enjoying a booming
YOU MIGHT NOT even notice Herbal cigarettes with names like Herbal Gold or Ecstasy among other cigarettes, but sometimes they are prominently displayed. The packages boast that they are tobacco free and nicotine free. Instead they may contain a variety of herbal ingredients, including ginseng, passionflower, wild lettuce and even catnip. According to the Centers for Disease Control, when they burn these products still produce tar and carbon monoxide and cancer-causing agents.
The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs reports that stores selling these cigarettes to minors may not be violating the law.
Right now, itâ€™s certainly unconscionable, but it certainly seems to evade the definition of tobacco products under New York state law, said DEC Commissioner Jules Polenetsky.
In fact, Polenetsky said that the cigarettes seem to be targeted to kids because of the bright colors, the names and the flavors. When Consumer Affairs asked teen-agers, they readily knew where to buy them and reported that they did purchase them.
Theyâ€™re also dangerous because they make kids used to the idea of smoking something that smells like a cigarette, looks like a cigarette, even though they donâ€™t have nicotine, Polenetsky said.
When NewsChannel4 spoke to the manufacturers of Ecstasy and Herbal Gold, they said that the critics have it all wrong.
Alternative Cigarettes, Inc. reports that theyâ€™re proud to offer herbal cigarettes to smokers as an alternative to tobacco and nicotine. They pointed out their herbal packs warn that they are not intended for sale to minors along with various health warnings.
The Temple of Ecstasy Corp. insists that it takes thorough measures to make certain that kids donâ€™t purchase their cigarettes. They said that each pack has the Surgeon Generalâ€™s warning and, as of March, a clear note that indicates that sales to minors are prohibited.
Some high school students said that the products could encourage their classmates to smoke.
Later this week, the New York City Council is expected to raise fines and toughen penalties against stores selling tobacco cigarettes to minors.
Polenetsky said that there could need to be further legislation to prohibit the sale of non-tobacco cigarettes to minors.