LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Thanks for protecting youth from the harms of tobacco

candy-flavored-cigarettescigar-pile-01 0The Minneapolis City Council unanimously passed an ordinance designed to protect our youth from the harms of flavored tobacco. This ordinance removes cheap, flavored tobacco such as cigars and cigarillos from convenience stores and increases the price of these products to $2.60 each. Previously, these products were available for as little as two for a mere 88 cents. Cheap and attractive to our youth!

So, as a community Elder, I’d like to thank the council for its focus on a healthier community and protecting youth; especially in north Minneapolis. Did you know that Minneapolis was the fifth city in Minnesota to raise the price of these cheap cigars but the first to limit youth exposure to the addicting products by removing them from stores in our neighborhoods? These products will only be allowed in licensed 18-over tobacco stores beginning on January 1, 2016 – “Happy New Year!”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibited flavors in cigarettes back in 2009 but did not include other products, opening a door for the tobacco industry to target youth with these cigars, cigarillos, and smokeless tobacco products. This is a big step which closes the door on that loophole.

Again, kudos to the city council for taking this first step! There is more to be done. Menthol-flavored tobacco products were not included in the ordinance. Of those in the African American community who smoke, 88 percent smoke menthol-flavored cigarettes. The African American community is disproportionately harmed by tobacco use. Now, let’s look to restricting the sale of menthol-flavored cigarettes. You help is needed – STOP smoking! Let’s take control of our own health and save the lives of our precious children.

September 2, 2015
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