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Reader's view: Fight to keep teens tobacco-free

We are a mother and daughter from the Lincoln Park Children and Families Collaborative in Duluth. We want to help other families avoid the pain we have experienced of losing a loved one to tobacco-related illness.

We visited the state Capitol in St. Paul on Feb. 22 to talk with our Sen. Erik Simonson and Rep. Liz Olson about efforts to create a smoke-free generation. We discussed how the tobacco industry targets young people with colorful packaging, fruity flavors and other kid-focused marketing. The tobacco industry wants to addict young people for life because they know most addicted smokers start when they are teens.

Nearly 20 percent of young Minnesotans still use tobacco products; and that rate is even higher among some communities, such as LGBTQ people and American Indians (for whom it is very important to keep tobacco sacred).

We also talked about policies proven to help protect young people, including raising the tobacco age to 21, restricting the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored tobacco products, and keeping tobacco prices high.

If there are community members who would like information about how to get involved in reducing commercial tobacco's harms, or information on smoking cessation, please visit the Lincoln Park Children and Families Collaborative at lpcfc.org.

Melissa and Isabella Meyer

Duluth

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