I know I speak for many parents like me across Texas when I say I’m deeply concerned about our youth becoming addicted to tobacco products.

Big Tobacco has targeted kids with aggressive marketing and flavored products — and it has worked. In 2019, more than 6 million kids reported currently using a tobacco product, and more than 1-in-4 high school students reported currently using e-cigarettes. Just last week, the New York Times reported that the tobacco industry is being sued for placing ads on kid-friendly websites and TV channels in order to entice them into trying their products.

This disgusting behavior is nothing new for the tobacco industry, which has a decades-long history of doing everything it can to bring in new customers. A critical piece of Big Tobacco’s strategy is pushing flavored products; menthol flavoring in cigarettes masks the harshness of smoke, and flavors in e-cigarettes and other tobacco products attract kids while addicting them to nicotine.

That’s why I’m joining the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and calling on Rep. Vicente Gonzalez to support the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act to stop Big Tobacco from addicting a new generation of customers to their products. This bill would prohibit all flavored tobacco products and save kids from a lifetime of nicotine addiction.

Let’s act now to protect our kids’ futures.

Barbara Behal, Seguin

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(3) comments

Shepard

Though I applaud your enthusiasm and cause, I would like to mention a couple of things which may have some impact to your letter.

Flavoring of tobacco products has been going on for quite awhile, with menthol cigarettes going back as far as 1927. The FDA thought to regulate it before and were moving to a ruling, but backed out due to anticipated lawsuits / court action to stop it.

I believe that most are missing the boat when it comes to tobacco and the ways to influence the rate of use.

Tobacco companies have been driving the percentage of nicotine up over the last 3 decades, through bio and chemistry. A possible approach to helping with addiction, and adverse health effects, would merely be to declare anything over a certain nicotine amount to be illegal for sale, perhaps moving the percentages back to the 1995 level, or before.

E-Cigarettes are a much more critical problem if your thrust is to protect the younger people. Brought to market with little study or oversight, it now is a widely used product world wide, one which had an opportunity to grow without the regulations it deserves. Again, the best way to regulate it is for the content of the nicotine.

I will say that I am adamantly opposed to the age limitation that was recently adopted; it is an affront to anyone who believes in the Constitution and Self determination. No one has the right, no government entity or representative, to arbitrarily choose an age whereby the right to purchase or consume a product which other citizens have access to is infringed upon. Telling a 20 year old man that he cannot buy a pack of cigarettes or chewing tobacco smacks of authoritarian overreach, and it should be challenged and defeated in court.

Otherwise I wish you luck in your endeavors and hope that you are able to contribute to the adoption of better regulation of the tobacco industry, they certainly need it.

Dldmny

Shepard, I disagree with your position regarding age restrictions on the sale of tobacco and other products representing significant health threats. As long as the government is involved in funding the treatment of those related health problems, it has the right to attempt to prevent them.

Shepard

Though I understand and respect your opinion, I still feel the issues go deeper than a health issue.

What is the age of adulthood? Is it 16? 18? 21? 30?

We have people out there claiming that we should adjust the voting age to 16. Are we to take that as the age by which people are able to recognize threats and risks? Are we to assume that 18, as that is the nationally recognized age for voting Federal officeholders, is the proper age? If so, what gives anyone the right to strip those of the same rights and privileges as given to others? Where does the Constitution provide for this variance?

I’ve always been a firm believer in one area regarding age.

If you can’t be responsible enough to buy and consume a beer or chewing tobacco, I sure don’t want you to be choosing the next Senator or President.

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