Health board efforts help keep teens tobacco free
To the Editor:
I am writing to commend the Wareham Board of Health for recently passing comprehensive Enhanced Youth Access Tobacco Regulations. By restricting the sale of flavored tobacco products to adult-only establishments, requiring minimum cigar packaging, and raising the age of sale to 21 among other provisions, the Board of Health is doing their part to protect Wareham’s youth.
The policies that the Board of Health is considering will protect youth who are particularly vulnerable to nicotine addiction and are targeted by the tobacco industry. In a recent report, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies concluded that increasing the minimum legal age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21 will have a positive impact on reducing youth initiation of tobacco use, particularly in adolescents aged 15 to 17. According to the report, if the minimum legal age was raised to 21 now, by the time today’s teenagers are adults, we would see a 12 percent decrease in smoking rates.
By restricting the sale of flavored tobacco products, a variety of products such as bubblegum, passion fruit, blueberry and strawberry banana will only be sold in adult-only tobacco retail establishments. Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Surgeon General have deemed flavored tobacco products “starter products” that help establish smoking habits that can lead to long-term addiction. Without local regulations like these, big tobacco can continue to target young people with products that are cheap, sweet, and easy to get.
I thank the Wareham Board of Health for fighting back against these tobacco industry tactics and working hard to update their tobacco regulations, which will be implemented on April 1. With coordinated action between community members and governing bodies, the next generation could be tobacco free.
Southeast Tobacco-Free Community Partnership,
Seven Hills Behavioral Health