Letter: It’s up to locals to control underage tobacco use
To the Editor:
Every year 480,000 people die from smoking related diseases. Approximately 42,000 of those deaths are non-smokers who were exposed to second-hand smoke. Nicotine, the substance found in cigarettes, dip, chew, cigarillos, snus, and electronic cigarettes, is reportedly just as addictive and difficult to quit as heroin.
On behalf of Grand Futures Prevention Coalition, a substance abuse prevention nonprofit, I urge citizens of Grand County to examine our collective attitude toward smoking, and consider the health implications.
According to the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey 2013, more than one in five Grand County junior and senior males use tobacco dip or chew; higher than the national average. And the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports youth use of electronic cigarettes has tripled from 2011 to 2013.
Yet tobacco dip, chew, electronic cigarettes, cigarillos, and snus are unregulated by the state of Colorado. It’s up to us, Grand County.
Lack of regulation means retailers of non-cigarette tobacco products do not have to be licensed; anyone can sell. These products are not overseen by the Food & Drug Administration, as cigarettes are. No one reviews their marketing to be sure it is free of misleading statements, or verifies the ingredients to make sure they are safe for public consumption.
Youth use of tobacco products is a growing issue in Grand County. Grand Futures Prevention Coalition is working to get towns across the county to create licenses or pass ordinances to restrict youth access to non-cigarette tobacco products. Granby has already seen the need and places restrictions in their town code.
One town’s efforts alone are not enough.
Studies have shown that policy measures are the most effective way to curb youth access and use of tobacco. We ask that everyone join together to support this measure. Email members of your town council, or contact GFPC at 970-887-9655 or visit http://www.facebook.com/grandcountygetsREAL for more information on how you can help.
Tobacco Prevention Coordinator
Grand Futures Prevention Coalition
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