I cannot express strongly enough my support of T21. Limiting the sale of e-cigarette (vaping) AND tobacco products to people over 21 is a huge step in decreasing the rates of nicotine addiction by our youth. Rates of tobacco use had been declining steadily for years as older smokers quit or succumbed to tobacco related diseases. Big Tobacco saw their market base shrinking. They also know that 90-95 percent of people won’t start using nicotine containing products if they wait until they are 21 or over.
Suddenly the market has been flooded with colorfully packaged nicotine containing vaping liquids that are — despite industry claims to the contrary — targeted toward youth. The Marlboro man doesn’t need Grape Slushee flavored nicotine! One pod of some of these brands can contain as much nicotine as two packs of cigarettes. We also know that once one is addicted to nicotine, one is more likely to buy traditional cigarettes as well. As quitting is often difficult, Big Tobacco now has a long term customer base.
The Hibbing City Council has an opportunity to make it more difficult for our youth to get hooked. Younger students 13-17 tend to get their nicotine from older students. Raising the age to purchase nicotine products of all forms to 21 will help decrease the supply in our schools. A national survey showed that 75 percent of adults favor increasing the age for tobacco purchase to 21.
This is not about freedom of “choice.” This is about addiction, youth and preserving the public health of our community. One can get “into the weeds” as far as what the schools and others are doing as far as this epidemic. Only the City Council can pass an ordinance limiting the sale of these deadly and addicting products to those 21 and over. Please join me in urging our City Councilors to pass a T21 ordinance that includes both vaping and traditional tobacco products.
Jan Linse Baldwin, MD
Essentia Health Hibbing