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Proposed Flavored Tobacco Ban for MN Back on Table

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Thursday, March 23, 2023   

Youth advocates continue to sound the alarm over the impact flavored tobacco products have on teenagers, and hope Minnesota lawmakers take another close look at a proposed statewide ban.

Following attempts in previous legislative sessions, a bill has surfaced to prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars, smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes.

The coalition Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation said the region faces a youth tobacco epidemic.

Bethlehem Yewhalawork, program manager for NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, said enacting proposed restrictions can prevent things from getting worse.

"Passing a comprehensive flavor policy will really prevent youth addiction and improve health for all Minnesotans," Yewhalawork contended.

According to the coalition, one in seven 11th graders in Minnesota reports using e-cigarettes, and 88% of those students use flavored products.

Proposed bans often encounter pushback from the tobacco industry and retailers. A similar ban in the city of Edina recently survived a court challenge. Currently, 25% of Minnesotans are covered by a local flavored tobacco policy.

Preethika Naveen, a senior at Eagan High School, said while overall smoking rates have declined, use of flavored tobacco is prevalent among her peers.

"Many kids use menthol chew and vape e-cigarettes. Why? Because of the flavors," Naveen observed.

Advocates also argued the tobacco industry continues to use menthol products to target Black Americans, LGBTQ communities and youth. Groups such as the Children's Defense Fund have noted early exposure to nicotine can have lasting effects on a child's brain development.

Disclosure: The Children's Defense Fund-Minnesota Chapter contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, and Children's Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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