Grand Rapids Finds Shocking Results in Tobacco Sales

Story by Liz Ptaszynski, Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of 

Whether you are a smoker or not, most people know how the buying of cigarettes goes. You choose a box amongst dozens from the wall behind the counter and have your ID ready to prove that you’re old enough to purchase them. Or at least that’s the way it’s supposed to go.

After a three-month investigation done by the police and Cherry Health, it was found that 24 percent of retailers sold tobacco products to minors. Though this statistic may sound small, that’s 22 stores out of 90 that are willing to sell to people below the age of 18. In the north and west area of the city, over 11 percent of retailers sold to a decoy minor while in the city’s east and south side a whopping 36% of retailers were found to have sold to a decoy minor. It is stated under the Michigan Youth Tobacco Act that any person who is caught selling tobacco products to a minor will not only receive a misdemeanor on their record but also a $50 fine.

But what does this mean to us as a city? It means that we are making the purchase of these products more accessible for minors. The question here is not whether or not smoking is good or bad, but, rather, should minors be allowed to partake in it? Especially when there is talk major tobacco industries are interested in selling more than just cigarettes with tobacco in them.   

Since at least the 1960s, there has been rumors of major tobacco companies preparing to enter the green market in anticipation of legalizing marijuana. Such rumors have been discredited without hesitation up until now. Just recently Philip Morris, the world’s largest cigarette manufacturer, announced that Marlboro Tobacco will be taking part in the increasing market of legal marijuana by distributing marijuana cigarettes under the name of Marlboro M.

Support in heading this brand is Vice President of the company George Mchadden. In an interview, he not only claimed that Marlboro purchased hundred of acres of land in California, Nicaragua, and Amsterdam to begin major cultivation of their supply, but also that the company has made several deals with U.S. Border Protection and Customs so they can exclusively transfer such product from foreign lands to the U.S. for production. It was also mentioned in the same interview that Marlboro has always been interested in the cannabis market and have been pushing for legalization of it in Colorado, New Jersey, Washington, and California. Marijuana has become legal in just two of these states, so this January, Colorado and Washington State will be the first states to be able to purchase Marlboro Ms.

It is too soon to decide whether this is good or bad. We have yet to find out what effects it will bring on the economy and health. However, if the rates of selling to minors continue to increase, we are allowing them to have products such as Marlboro M, and the question of whether or not society can handle that is the one we should be asking.

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