Flavored tobacco and e-cigarettes are a hot topic in the media lately. From health issues associated with flavored tobacco and e-cigarettes to the FDA citing manufacturers of tobacco products for misleading the public that e-cigarettes are a “safer alternative” to regular tobacco, it seems like every day there is a new story about the concerns of e-cigarettes and flavored cigarettes harming youth and adults alike.
Following Michigan’s lead on bans of flavored e-cigarettes, many state and local legislators are working on stronger regulation of e-cigarettes and flavored tobacco. It’s great to know that so many people want to act on an issue that is has become as serious as this has. With 8 of 10 teens who have used tobacco stating that their first tobacco product was flavored, we must restrict access to flavored tobacco. However, as well meaning as many of these laws are, many of them leave out certain flavors or types of tobacco. This leaves a hole in local or state laws that mean that these laws are still not really protecting youth or our community.
What we are seeing in a lot of proposed legislation is that flavored products like mint or menthol flavors are being left out. We are also seeing that while some places are restricting e-cigarette access, they are not including other tobacco products like cigars or hookah tobacco. Laws that leave these products out ignore the realities of tobacco product use and don’t make our communities much safer from the risks of tobacco use.
Mint/menthol products mask the harshness of tobacco on the throat and mouth. That masks the danger of tobacco and increases the likelihood of tobacco addiction. In addition, restricting e-cigarette sales but leaving out other types of tobacco doesn’t fully address reducing tobacco use among youth or adults.
We need all proposed flavored tobacco legislation to include all flavors and all types of tobacco. Laws that don’t consider these issues are a good start- but we need more.
We ask that you stand with us in demanding comprehensive tobacco legislation that will truly help prevent tobacco use and ensure a healthier community for us all.