The Prior Lake City Council is considering restricting the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. As a nurse and parent, I support this move and encourage the council to do even more to help curb the impacts of tobacco on our community, and especially our young people.
Youth have long been the target of the tobacco industry through appealing flavors and manipulative marketing. Today’s e-cigarettes can deliver very high levels of nicotine, with many of the popular e-cigarette products containing more nicotine than a pack of cigarettes. It is known that no amount of nicotine is safe for the adolescent brain and can lead to future addictions later in life.
That’s why it’s crucial for cities to protect youth by taking steps like the one proposed in Prior Lake. However, only addressing e-cigarettes and vaping is a short term solution to a long term problem. Tobacco use, including vape products, cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco, remains the number one cause of preventable disease and death in Minnesota.
Tobacco costs us more than 6,000 lives and $7 billion in health care costs and lost productivity each year. If we truly want to get to the root of the issue, we need to tackle the sale of all flavored tobacco. Let’s not give an industry whose product kills more than half its users a pass in our city.