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Facing the Future of Nicotine & Tobacco

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28) -- It may look like candy, bubble gum, or even energy drinksbut look closer.

I guess some are naive - like I guess me - that don't know it's out there, parent Brooke Stuart said.

Health officials say the face of nicotine and tobacco is quickly changing.

There are a lot of new nicotine products that didn't exist even 10 years ago, said Katie Jones, Health Education Specialist at Linn County Public Health.

That why Jones and groups like Rural Communities Rising Above the Influence in Linn (http://www.rcrail.org/) are trying to stay one step ahead. The Area Substance Abuse Council is also trying to get the word out, as these products make their way into smaller communities like Lisbon and Mount Vernon.

Curt Wheeler with ASAC showed off some of those products to a room full of parents on Thursday night. Some of those products are twists on traditional cigars and cigarettes.

They can put a bead in it that offers flavor, so that has changed, Wheeler said, holding up a cigarette for the audience.

Others products provide a more subtle and secretive way to absorb a nicotine fix.

They're putting it in their socks, putting their socks on, putting it between their toes, Wheeler said.

The problem, experts say, is that not a lot of research has been done on this stuff.

A lot of these products are so new, we don't know what the long term health effects are because there hasn't been enough time to collect that data, Jones said.

From e-cigarettes to absorbable nicotine, to modern day snuff powder, parents say it's all a bit overwhelming.

I claim to be a know it all, but apparently I don't know as much as I should know, parent Chris Bradley said.

They understand it ultimately falls to them to keep up with the trends, and keep their kids clean.

I would sit them down and talk about it, then inform the school as well, Stuart said.

Its just one more challenge in raising the modern day teenager.

Several schools, including the Linn Mar and Cedar Rapids school district, have adopted nicotine free policies. Many health experts fear that by picking up a nicotine habit now, teens may move on to cigarettes in the future.
 
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