This month marks the American Cancer Society’s 44th annual Great American Smokeout, a day dedicated to helping people quit tobacco. To mark this important occasion, our lawmakers should work to address one of the most disturbing ways tobacco is impacting our communities: youth tobacco use.

Young people are using tobacco products at an alarming rate. In 2019, 27.5% of high school students reported currently using an e-cigarette, a rise of 125% over the last two years.

Big Tobacco has created this epidemic by targeting our kids with flavored tobacco products. Flavors drive youth to try tobacco; more than 80% of kids who have used any tobacco product report the first product they ever tried was flavored, and almost every young person who has ever used an e-cigarette first tried a flavored e-cigarette.

Big Tobacco uses flavored products to lure kids into a lifetime of addiction. The industry pairs flavors like fruit, candy, menthol and mint with flashy marketing campaigns to appeal to youth. And it has worked — research shows flavors are a leading reason young people start to use tobacco products, and they perceive flavored products as less harmful.

It’s time for our lawmakers to stand up to Big Tobacco and protect our kids from a lifetime addiction by restricting the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes.

Nicholas Merritt

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network volunteer

Fair Haven

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