The COVID-19 pandemic has been a wake-up call that we must do more to improve our community’s health.

One huge area for improvement is reducing tobacco addiction, especially among youths targeted by tobacco industry marketing. Though it hasn’t been in the news much lately, tobacco use remains a huge problem.



Flavored tobacco products drive youth tobacco use, which remains at epidemic levels. More than eight in 10 youth who ever tried tobacco started with a flavored tobacco product — including menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars, hookah and e-cigarettes.



The 2020 Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey found that one in five Minnesota high schoolers is vaping e-cigarettes. The survey also found 70 percent of youth who vape show signs of nicotine dependence.



No matter how it’s delivered, nicotine harms the developing adolescent brain, interrupts learning and creates addiction pathways which can impair kids for a lifetime.



As our elected leaders explore new strategies to improve health and advance healthy equity, I urge them to join the growing list of Minnesota communities that have ended the sale of flavored tobacco products.



Clearing the market of flavored tobacco products would prevent youth addiction and improve lung health, eliminating a leading cause of health issues in adult life.

Dee Pretty lives in Moorhead.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

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