East Texans speak-out about new tobacco regulations

By Jena Johnson - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - "I lost both of my parents to cancer and you'd think I'd learn from that, but I didn't," said Darlene Crawford, owner of Smokey T's Tobacco Shop in Lufkin.

Darlene Crawford has been hooked on tobacco for years. She said the FDA's involvement is long overdue. "I'm glad FDA's in it, I wish that would have gotten into it a long time ago," said Crawford.

She owns Smokey T's Tobacco Shop in Lufkin and refuses to sell flavored cigarettes. She said they target teens. "It's like a grape soda pop and then a coke, there's a difference, they're going to drink a grape sometimes before they will a coke," said Crawford.

But some disagree. "I do not believe that it's a necessary bill...at all...." said Anthony Rivera, Dragon's Breath Gift Shop store manager.

Rivera said the FDA will need cooperation from other outlets. "If they see it on MTV, they're going to be appealed to it," said Rivera.

In three months flavored cigarettes will be pulled from the shelves. Crawford said cutting these products will trickle down the line. "I'll make less money, they'll make less money, but maybe there will be less sickness," said Crawford.

Crawford said she doubts a new label will keep away new customers. "Whether it says lights, ultra lights or full flavors, they're still going to smoke," said Crawford.

As customers drove through the line to purchase cigarettes, some even said they agree with FDA's decision to regulate tobacco companies. Sharon Rodgers, smoker, said she wish she would have known the health risks of cigarettes years ago. "I'm almost up to two packs a day and it's very hard for me, it's hard for my baby too," said Sharon Rodgers.

Crawford hopes the FDA's new regulations will help break the cycle of cigarette addiction. "Once you go with the crowd, you stay with it the rest of your life," said Crawford.

Under the new FDA regulations, tobacco companies must disclose the ingredients in their products within 15 months from now.