While our nation navigates through the current pandemic, another epidemic has escalated in the background.

The youth tobacco epidemic is an increasing issue in Minnesota teens and young adults. Nearly 16 percent of 10th graders and 26 percent of 11th graders reported having vaped in the last 30 days, according to the 2019 Minnesota Student Survey.

E-cigarettes are used at five times the rate of conventional cigarettes and nearly 13 percent of adults age 18-24 regularly use e-cigarettes.

The tobacco industry targets kids and young adults with alluring marketing and popular flavors in order to get them addicted as early as possible. The U.S. Department of Health reports that the contents of e-cigarettes, like Nicotine and flavorings in e-liquid, are highly addictive, can harm the developing adolescent brain and cause damage to the airway and lung tissue.

We could be doing more to prevent our community from becoming addicted by banning the sale of all flavored tobacco products in Minnesota, starting here in Mankato. Mankato has been a leader in the past for necessary tobacco reform in Minnesota by passing Tobacco 21, and many believe it is time we do it again. In a Statewide Issues Survey published in January of 2020, 74 percent of Minnesotans already supported prohibiting the sales of all flavored commercial tobacco products.

My friends and I have been the tobacco company's key demographic for years, but as we move into adulthood big tobacco will shift over to targeting the new young and naive generation of possible consumers. I chose to stand for a smoke-free generation where flavored tobacco products will no longer be a temptation. Will you?

Madeline Meyer

Mankato

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