To the Editor: Choosing Kids Over Big Tobacco

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For the editor:

As a registered nurse, I cared for many people who were dying of tobacco-related illnesses and counseled many people struggling with addictions that dominated their lives. Now, as a grandmother, I am acutely aware of the need to give our children a fair chance at a healthy life free from tobacco addiction.

Right now, we have a crucial choice to make: to protect our children or not to protect our children from a clear and present danger. That danger is flavored tobacco products, developed by the devious tobacco industry, to lure and hook our youth and young adults into lives of addiction.

Big Tobacco, faced with the loss of revenue due to an earlier drop in tobacco use among young people and adults, now markets a range of tantalizing products with flavors that appeal to children. These products, with names such as Fruity Pebbles, Fizzy Lemonade and Gummi Bear, are used primarily by young people and young adults and not, as claimed by the tobacco industry, by adult smokers trying to quit. This is reflected in the fact that 8 out of 10 high school students who use e-cigarettes use flavored e-cigarettes. To make matters worse, young people who use e-cigarettes have been found to be four times more likely to switch to traditional cigarettes than their non-vaping peers.

At every moment that we delay, our young people are easy prey to the traps set for them. As a retired nurse and grandmother, I call on Governor Mills and our state legislators to take quick and direct action to protect Maine’s children by ending the sale of flavored tobacco products, and I encourage my fellow islanders and mainers to do the same.

Let’s choose our children, not Big Tobacco.

Catherine H. Richardson

Mount Desert

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