Yesterday afternoon, Gov. Walz, Lt. Gov. Flanagan and the administration addressed the youth tobacco-use crisis and announced an aggressive campaign to combat it. In response to the announcement of this campaign, Emily Myatt, Minnesota government relations director for American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) released the following statement.

“ACS CAN is deeply concerned about Minnesota’s dramatic increase in youth e-cigarette use and is pleased to see Gov. Walz urging action to address it. The state legislature should consider policies proven to reduce commercial tobacco use and make sure that policies regulate all commercial tobacco products including e-cigarettes.

“Every year 2,584 Minnesotans die from smoking-attributable cancer. The tobacco industry has targeted Minnesota’s kids, communities of color and the LGBTQ+ community. Minnesota’s legislature has an opportunity to pass bold policies that protect Minnesotans from the incalculable human costs of commercial tobacco.

“We hope the legislature will work with the Gov. to adopt more policies that are proven to reduce youth tobacco use like increasing funding for youth tobacco prevention programs. Securing more state funding for tobacco prevention will help to keep future generations from becoming addicted.

“It is time for the state legislature to increase the age of sale to 21 and restrict the sale of all flavored tobacco products including mint and menthol.

“Tobacco companies have long used flavors to aggressively lure kids into being lifelong customers. Restricting the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars, hookah and smokeless tobacco will also help protect our kids.

“Minnesota’s lawmakers shouldn’t wait to ensure our kids are protected from tobacco’s deadly toll. At current usage rates, 102,000 kids under 18 in Minnesota right now will ultimately die prematurely from smoking. What is our legislature waiting for?”