Letter to the editor: Protect our youths from the marketing ploys of big tobacco
As a physician and Dillon voter, I am embarrassed and angry at the opinions of Dillon Town Council members as quoted in the article “Dillon considers new taxes, age restrictions on nicotine products” (published June 20) about the proposed tobacco/nicotine tax. Public officials should at least inform themselves of facts before using their public platforms to express opinions. The prevalence of vaping in Summit County High School was 40% when measured two years ago and is now thought to exceed 70%. Even middle school students are catching on to the thrill of acting like their older role models. High school seniors who are 18 can legally purchase such products.
Nicotine has been shown to be more addictive than heroin and other opiates, and use of tobacco products is responsible for 500,000 American deaths annually, far higher than other drugs combined, including alcohol. We have a responsibility to do what we can to protect our children who have been subject to the marketing ploys of big tobacco through promotion of flavored nicotine.
Those segments of the user population that are most price sensitive, youths and those on the lower socio-economic rungs, will disproportionately benefit from raising the price of nicotine products through higher taxes. So instead of describing this as a regressive tax, our leaders should be saying this is a progressive health benefit for those price-sensitive groups. A recent survey of Summit County voters indicates 66% favorability for the proposal, including raising the age for legal purchase to 21, licensing of vendors to facilitate enforcement and applying a substantial tax.
The four towns and the county, should join together to protect our youths and others just as they did 15 years ago with the passage of Smoke Free Summit. Citizens must speak out and are invited to join this campaign.
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