Helen Bagshaw: Working together to reverse the youth smoking epidemic | Letters

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Working together to reverse the youth smoking epidemic

As a Winona resident, public health advocate, and community prevention worker, I am extremely concerned about the current youth smoking crisis.

Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States.

The FDA’s inability to remove all flavored e-cigarettes from the market has led to a dramatic increase in the number of flavored products still available.

Minnesota youth continue to vape at very high rates, with one in five high school students using e-cigarettes and 70% of high school and college users reporting signs of nicotine addiction. Seven out of 10 young people say they use e-cigarettes “because they come in flavors we like”. In Minnesota, 67% of high school smokers use flavored products.

Flavored products mask the harshness of tobacco AND LURE YOUNG PEOPLE TO ADDICTION. The tobacco industry deliberately uses flavors to attract the next generation of smokers. Nicotine is highly addictive, harms teenage brains and sets young people up for addiction. Today’s popular electronic cigarettes contain high levels of nicotine. Flavors in e-liquids are harmful when inhaled and can damage the airways and lung tissue.

People also read…

Restricting sales of flavored tobacco products can reduce tobacco consumption. More than a dozen Minnesota communities have restricted the sale of flavored tobacco products. Studies show that local flavor restrictions reduce the chances that teens will ever try tobacco products

Is Winona County ready to rid the market of all flavored tobacco products?

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates the need for strong tobacco prevention policies that put public health ahead of tobacco industry profits.

We can do more to prevent young people from becoming addicted and to protect the adults targeted by the tobacco industry. The youth tobacco epidemic demands prompt action from all levels of government.

I ask the Winona community to support public investments in tobacco prevention and treatment efforts. Let’s work together to reverse the epidemic of youth smoking and protect the health of all Minnesotans.

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