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Protect youth from ALL flavored tobacco produts

Dear [Decision Maker],

I stand with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) in support of SB 233 Business Regulation--Flavored Tobacco Products--Prohibition, in which would end the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including flavored cigars and menthol cigarettes.

This growing epidemic of e-cigarette use among our youth demands strong and immediate action. Research shows that 97 percent of current youth e-cigarette users used a flavored product in the past month, and 70 percent cite flavors as a key reason for their use. E-cigarette use soared by 78 percent among high school students and 48 percent among middle school students nationwide from 2017-2018.



95% of smokers begin before the age of 21. Right here in Maryland 18.2% of adults use any tobacco product, including 12.5% who use cigarettes. Tobacco product use among youth is much too high, 5.0% of Maryland high school students smoke cigarettes, 6.0% smoke cigars, 4.6% use smokeless tobacco, and 23% use electronic smoking devices. We know that most current smokers were enticed to begin this deadly addiction as youth, and most report beginning with a flavor.

As a result of targeted marketing, while the use of traditional cigarettes have declined, the sale of menthol cigarettes have steadily increased, especially among young people and new smokers. Menthol makes it easier to start smoking by masking the harshness of tobacco smoke. As a result, over half of youth smokers use menthol cigarettes; among African American youth smokers, seven out of ten use menthol cigarettes. In addition, there are now over 250 different cigar flavors, and cigars surpass cigarettes in popularity among high school boys nationwide.

In addition to youth, African Americans have been heavily targeted with menthol cigarette marketing. Quitting menthol cigarettes is particularly difficult, so those who initiate with menthol are more likely to become addicted and less likely to quit. Leaving menthol cigarettes in our community is a matter of social justice and leaves those already most impacted by health disparities vulnerable to the aggressive marketing of the tobacco industry. Cities across the country have already acted to prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products.

Over 50 localities in California, Colorado, Minnesota, Massachusetts and New York, and the State of Massachusetts have done so. And many other communities and states will likely follow in the coming months and years. It is now time for the State of Maryland to do so!

I strongly urge you to protect youth from all flavored tobacco products, including flavored cigars and menthol cigarettes.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]
[Your Email]