Telling the truth about tobacco is long overdue

Dear Editor,

My name is Brianna Owens, I am 18 years old, and I live in North Minneapolis. As a teen member of the Breathe Free North project, I am part of a group of concerned Northside community members working to increase public awareness about the benefits of living smoke-free.

It’s important for people to know that tobacco companies are responsible for creating products designed for maximum addiction and that they are target marketing those products to young people like me, African Americans and other communities.

They intentionally design their cigarettes to make them more addictive. They do this on purpose by making it easier for nicotine to get to the smoker’s brain, making it very hard to quit. You may have seen a recent ad that the tobacco companies were court-ordered to run. It says:

  • Altria, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard, and Philip Morris USA intentionally designed cigarettes to make them more addictive.
  • Cigarette companies control the impact and delivery of nicotine in many ways, including designing filters and selecting cigarette paper to maximize the ingestion of nicotine, adding ammonia to make the cigarette taste less harsh, and controlling the physical and chemical make-up of the tobacco blend.
  • When you smoke, the nicotine actually changes the brain — that’s why quitting is so hard.

It is great that a Federal Court ordered tobacco companies to confess to the public about what they’ve been up to all these years. North Minneapolis residents are more likely than Minnesota’s general population to smoke or be exposed to secondhand smoke — and experience the negative health consequences. That’s why I wish the tobacco companies had come clean sooner.

The truth could have saved lives.

Brianna Owens lives in Minneapolis