To the Editor:

For over a year, health advocates have been talking about the youth e-cigarette epidemic. Recently, the American Lung Association’s “State of Tobacco Control” 2020 report not only confirmed it but expressed that it is getting worse, with a staggering 135% increase in high school e-cigarette use in just the past two years. The percentage of high school e-cigarette users nationwide who reported using mint and menthol flavors is alarming in itself — having increased to 63.9% in 2019, from 42.3% in 2017 and 51.2% in 2018.

The Finger Lakes community is not immune to this emergency. In New York state smoking still kills more than 28,000 people annually, and it costs the state $10.3 billion annually. Approximately 1 in 4 New York students is using some form of tobacco, often citing minty flavor options as a contributing factor.

As parents, educators, and community stakeholders, every one of us has a role to play in keeping our children safe. If we don’t attempt to understand the facts and educate our kids, we are simply setting up our kids to become the next generation hooked on tobacco, and continuing the cycle of tobacco addiction and the diseases that come with it.

BRIGID HEENAN

Specialist, Health Promotions

Tobacco Action Coalition of the Finger Lakes

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