To the Editor;
I am writing this letter to congratulate the Marion Board of Health for recently passing a comprehensive Enhanced Tobacco Youth Access Regulation. In light of the Surgeon General’s Report on Tobacco released in January on the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s Report, the new regulation is more critical than ever. The report confirms that the tobacco products that our youth may be trying out are more dangerous than ever before.
In addition, two more recently released studies warn that today’s cigarettes are highly engineered products that increase addiction and are more dangerous than ever before. The 32nd Surgeon General’s Report, “The Health Consequences of Smoking – 50 years of Progress,” shows that even though today’s smokers smoke fewer cigarettes than those 50 years ago, they are at a higher risk of developing lung cancer due to increased levels of nicotine and chemicals inhaled while smoking. The report reveals that low-tar cigarettes do not reduce the risk of lung cancer, contrary to previous claims, and are, in fact, more lethal than ever before.
What does that mean for our youth who are able to access tobacco products? It means that they will be even more addicted to nicotine than the last generation. This is great news for the tobacco industry, and terrible news for our kids.
To make matters worse, the report states that if current rates continue, 5.6 million Americans younger than 18 years of age who are alive today are projected to die prematurely from smoking-related disease. And now the report adds that smoking causes colorectal and liver cancer and increases the failure rate of treatment for all cancers. As if that were not bad enough, the report states that smoking causes diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis, and immune system weakness. None of the report is good news for the next generation. I wonder when we are all going to finally say to the tobacco industry, “enough is enough”.
But the good news locally is that many Boards of Health in southeastern Massachusetts, including Marion, Rochester, and Wareham have passed Enhanced Youth Access Regulation to fight back against these tobacco industry tactics. The enhanced regulations restrict the sale of electronic cigarettes to those 18 years of age and older, require that cheap flavored cigars be sold in packages of four, prohibit the sale of flavored blunt wraps, and prohibit the sale of tobacco products including e-cigarettes in all health care institutions including pharmacies.
I recommend that readers take a look at the New Surgeon General’s Report online and share it with any young person they know. They need to understand that trying that first cigarette, cigar, or e-cigarette can be the most deadly decision they ever make.
Tobacco-Free Community Partnership
Seven Hills Behavioral Health
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