Letter about Lanesboro Tobacco Ordinance…
To the Editor,
On July 11, the Lanesboro City Council approved a draft of a new tobacco ordinance designed to protect kids from the harms caused by tobacco. But inexplicably, when adopting the proposal the council voted (4 to 1) to allow the sale of flavored tobacco products, and to increase the number of tobacco licenses. The council heard no public testimony on the changes.
Adopting these changes was a serious mistake. Research (which I have since presented to the council) shows that the changes are sure to lead kids to becoming addicted to nicotine. Two points stand out from this research:
• Nearly 90% of people who smoke (including vaping) begin before the age of 18; and, overwhelmingly, underage users start their commercial tobacco use with flavored products. A 2022 Minnesota Department of Health study showed that 100% of Fillmore County ninth graders who vaped in the past 30 days used flavored e-cigarettes. What’s more, three-fourths of underage users say they would likely stop if the products were not flavored.
• Banning flavored products would have virtually no effect on adult users, only a small percentage of whom buy flavors. In other words, allowing the sale of flavored products does not meaningfully add choices for adult smokers – it only sets a trap for kids.
When considering this issue it is critical to remember that tobacco products are in a category by themselves. Unlike other products that might be “bad for you,” nicotine is a medically addictive chemical, and smoking remains a leading cause of death and disease. Lanesboro, and every other community, deserves an ordinance protecting youth from tobacco addiction.
Very truly yours,
Thomas F. Pursell