Letter: Ceasing sales of menthol cigarettes will save lives in Minnesota

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Tuesday, Aug. 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 Minnesota residents to speak up and comment in support of these rules.

Commercial tobacco is still the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Minnesota, killing 5,910 residents each year. More than 13% of adults smoke in Minnesota and 28% of high school students use a commercial tobacco product. On top of that, smoking costs our state more than $2.5 billion each year.

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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 Minnesota residents. I encourage Minnesota residents to join me and the American Lung Association to share your voice at ActonMenthol in support of the FDA’s proposed rules for ending the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars before the Aug. 2 deadline.

Pat McKone, St. Paul
The author is the advocacy director for the American Lung Association in Minnesota.

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