COLLIER COUNTY, Fla.- Collier County Health Department says it's a shameless ploy that's gaining steam.
"They know that children are attracted to sweet products, and if they get them hooked on the sweet products then they have a lifetime user," Rachel Kleist of the Collier County Health Department said Wednesday.
Dip, cigars, and cigarillos are now offered in flavors from grape to sour apple, and showcased surprisingly close to candy.
"The flavors don't make them any safer, don't make them any less dangerous. They just mask the harsh taste of a regular tobacco product," Kleist said.
According to a 2010 statewide survey, the candy-flavored tobacco trend is catching on. 17.6% of Collier County youth between the ages of 11 and 17 have tried it and 19.9% in Lee County.
One new product raising eyebrows looks strikingly similar to a breath mint.
"The tobacco companies have created a product called Orbs. They are packaged in a container that looks exactly like a Tic-Tac package. You put them in your mouth and suck on them just like a Tic-Tac," Kleist said.
But the minty flavor only masks the health hazards. The Health Department says most flavored tobacco products pack in more nicotine than cigarettes and are difficult for parents to detect.
"You could be sitting there and not even know they're in the mouth of the person," Kleist said.
Collier County Commissioners passed a resolution asking local stores to pull flavored tobacco products from their shelves.
The FDA banned flavored cigarettes back in 2009, but right now, there are limited restrictions on smokeless tobacco products and cigars.