I am writing on behalf of Vision in Living Life (VILL), “Change is Possible” our youth count program of Aurora St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation in St. Paul. VILL engages youth in a range of activities and educational opportunities that promote and support their passage to be healthy, responsible and law abiding citizens.
Our youth have been educating the community about the harms of menthol tobacco. Youth can go into almost every store in our city and find menthol tobacco products. Menthol is added to tobacco products to cool the throat and make them taste better. Because these products are less harsh, youth are more attracted to them and more easily hooked.
The youth in our program witness other young people using these products, and they observe a wide array of these products available at their corner stores.
Noted that the tobacco industry targets the African American community with menthol tobacco. As a result, our community has high tobacco use rates and suffers disproportionately from tobacco-related diseases.
Taking menthol tobacco products out of the stores where young people shop will make a big difference in assuring our youth aren’t able to access these deadly products. It will increase healthy decisions and avoid a lifetime of addiction and disease. Saint Paul already prohibits the sale of candy and fruit flavored tobacco products in stores where kids can enter. Now is the time to treat menthol tobacco products the same way that we treat other flavors.
Youth Count Director
Vision In Living Life “Change is Possible”