I love Mankato. This is a beautiful area and a wonderful town. I have grown up here and attended both high school and college in the area. Throughout my time growing up in this town, I couldn’t help but note the growing problem we have in our community: tobacco use among youth.

Today, I cannot travel on the bus, go to school or work, or socialize with my friends without being around tobacco products. According to Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation, disposable e-cigarette use has increased by 1,000% in high school students alone. Yes, 1,000%.

Despite efforts from the state to prohibit the use of some flavored tobacco products, Minnesota has not prohibited menthol flavoring. This oversight means that big tobacco companies can still market their mint flavored products to children.

Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation also notes that menthol makes it easier for kids to start smoking by masking the harshness of tobacco smoke.

It is a well-documented fact that big tobacco companies like Marlboro and Juul market their harmful products to children under 18. With the ever increasing prevalence of these products in our communities and schools, I believe it’s time to prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco in Minnesota.

Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation found that 74 percent of Minnesotans support this measure across all demographics and regions in the state. Minnesota’s kids deserve better, and it’s up to us to help them.

Contact your representatives and tell them: No more flavored tobacco in our state.

Jessica Hartwell Wessman

Mankato

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