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To the Editor:

Young people in Tennessee deserve every opportunity to live full and healthy lives. But every day, our kids are falling victim to Big Tobacco’s dangerous marketing and getting hooked on tobacco products.

Twenty-seven percent of kids reported using tobacco products in 2018, and youth usage of e-cigarettes skyrocketed by 78 percent among high schoolers over the last year alone. These alarming statistics are no accident. Big Tobacco is pairing flashy marketing campaigns with fruit, candy and menthol flavored products in order to appeal to kids — and it’s working.

More than 80 percent of kids who have used tobacco products report the first one they ever tried was flavored. Flavors can improve the ease of use of a product by masking harsh effects, and they are a leading reason young people report using tobacco products.

To halt this epidemic and protect our kids from a lifelong addiction to tobacco, our lawmakers must stop Big Tobacco from using flavors to hook young people to their products. That’s why I traveled to Washington, D.C., to ask Rep. Scott DesJarlais to support the Reversing the Youth Epidemic Act and protect young people from a lifelong addiction.

It’s time for our lawmakers to act. We can’t ignore the pathway to addiction, disease and death that flavored products are paving for our kids.

Misty Oblak

Volunteer, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

Murfreesboro

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