Katie Jensen: Raise tobacco law to 21

Katie Jensen: Raise tobacco law to 21

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COVID-19 is a stark reminder we must do more to promote good health, especially when it comes to our lungs.

I am incredibly grateful Sen. Jeremy Miller is working across party lines to keep Minnesotans healthy during this pandemic. Early studies suggest COVID-19 may be particularly dangerous for people with lungs weakened by chronic disease, asthma and tobacco use.

As someone who works with students at Winona State University, I'm concerned about the tobacco epidemic in the college-aged population as we face this deadly virus.

Rising vaping rates are erasing decades of progress to reduce tobacco use, especially in young adults. We must protect our students, and the Minnesota Senate has the means to do so with a bill to raise the tobacco sales age to 21.

Not only does this epidemic affect college students, but it also affects younger people. More than 25 percent of Minnesota 11th graders reported using e-cigarettes in the 2019 Minnesota Student Survey, while the use rate of eighth-graders doubled in just three years. Tobacco use puts our kids at risk of a lifetime of addiction and health problems.

Despite a national law raising the age to 21, Minnesota still must update its state tobacco age to ensure communities can enforce T21.

I thank Sen. Miller for being a strong supporter of Tobacco 21 and urge him to help get it passed this session.

Katie Jensen, Winona

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