It’s a chicken-or-egg conundrum when we look at the packaging of both tobacco products and candy products. According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (US) Office on Smoking and Health, the tobacco industry has updated their look to mirror the fresh, bright feel of sugary sweets packaging. Why? To increase the appeal for young adults. The truth is that the similarities between candy and tobacco packaging don’t end there.
In 2018, food companies spent “$20.7 million to advertise children’s drinks with added sugars, primarily targeting kids under age 12,” according to the UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. This is a drop in the bucket compared to the $9.1 billion tobacco companies spent in the same year. $8.7 billion of that was spent on point-of-sale promotions that have been found to attract youth smokers. They’re targeting a specific demographic and reaping the financial rewards.
Not only are these industries targeting kids with bright and shiny marketing, but they’re detrimental to the oral and overall health of our children.
Why it’s important to avoid tobacco and sugar
Whether inhaled or smokeless, tobacco can impact the way your mouth operates, which in turn affects your teeth. Problems with saliva production can lead to cavities having more time to damage enamel. Additionally, smoking slows down healing after surgeries and procedures, contributing to the development of infection. Gum disease can cause tooth, tissue, and bone loss, and it has been linked ailments like diabetes and heart disease.
When it comes to candy, the connection between sugar and tooth decay is longstanding. Plaque, a soft and sticky film full of bacteria, will eat sugars in the mouth and produce acids that ruin tooth enamel, leading to cavities. If left untreated, that bacteria can also cause gum disease. The FDA recommends no more than 12.5 teaspoons, or 50 grams, of added sugar each day.
Even if cavities don’t result in gum disease, the added sugar intake can impact overall health. This increases the risk of diabetes, weight gain, and more—many of which are connected to the mouth.
It’s important to pay attention to what we are consuming, but it’s equally important to have a healthy oral health routine to mitigate any indulgences you might enjoy throughout the day. When it comes to tobacco, the best way to prevent damage to your mouth or body is to quit.
If you’re a smoker, talk to your dentist about what the habit is doing to your teeth and ways you can work to quit. If you need help stopping, contact the Colorado QuitLine and check out what you can expect during the transition.
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