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Letter: Ceasing sales of menthol cigarettes will save lives in North Dakota

McKone writes, "Menthol cigarettes make it easier to start smoking and harder to quit. That is why flavors, including menthol, are one of the primary reasons kids start using commercial tobacco products."

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Tuesday, August 2, is the FDA’s deadline for comments regarding their proposed rules to end the sale of all menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. I encourage North Dakota residents to speak up and comment in support of these rules.

Commercial tobacco is still the leading cause of preventable death and disease in North Dakota, killing 980 residents each year. More than 17% of adults smoke in North Dakota and 35.5% of high school students use a commercial tobacco product. On top of that, smoking costs our state more than $325 million each year.

For far too long, tobacco companies have targeted the youth, Black and LGBTQ+ communities with advertising for menthol cigarettes. Menthol cigarettes make it easier to start smoking and harder to quit. That is why flavors, including menthol, are one of the primary reasons kids start using commercial tobacco products. Close to half of all youth who smoke begin with menthol cigarettes. It is estimated that nationally, one-third of all people who smoke use menthol cigarettes.

We have a tremendous opportunity to save lives and reduce the toll of commercial tobacco on the health of North Dakota residents. I encourage North Dakota residents to join me and the American Lung Association to share your voice at Lung.org/ActonMenthol in support of the FDA’s proposed rules for ending the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars before the August 2 deadline.

Pat McKone is an advocacy representative for the American Lung Association in North Dakota.

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

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