LETTER: Protect our kids

To the Editor: 

I want to commend the Mendota Heights City Council for considering an ordinance to take flavored tobacco products out of stores in Mendota Heights where kids can enter. As a parent of school-aged children and a public health professional, I’m concerned about the devastating impact tobacco use has on youth and ultimately our whole community. 

For the first time in 17 years, youth tobacco use is on the rise in Minnesota. Now, more than a quarter of Minnesota high school students currently use tobacco products mostly due to the ubiquitous flavored tobacco choices available today in the form of e-cigarettes (“vaping,” “juuling”) and flavored cigars. These products come in a dizzying array of candy and fruity flavors like gummy bear, chocolate, grape and cotton candy. The growing popularity of flavored tobacco products among teens and the targeted advertising to the youth market are particularly concerning to me. 

Unfortunately, many teens have the misperception that flavored tobacco products are less harmful than products that aren’t flavored. Restricting the sale of flavored tobacco is a logical and promising way to prevent youth from using these addictive products. Local laws like this are among several strong policy recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Minnesota Department of Health to protect youth from nicotine addiction and the serious health harms resulting from tobacco use. 

I hope that Mendota Heights becomes the next city in Minnesota (it would be the seventh) to pass an ordinance to protect our kids from these addictive products.

Merry Grande, Mendota Heights

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