LETTERS: Banning the sale of flavored tobacco would protect Colorado children

Editor: I want to publicly thank State Senators Rhonda Fields and Kevin Priola for putting our kids before politics and introducing bipartisan Bill 22-1064, to end the sale of all flavored tobacco in Colorado. In 2018, Surgeon General Jerome Adams officially declared teen vaping an epidemic and not only encouraged parents and teachers to talk with kids about the dangers of vaping, but also called for policy changes like what Senators Fields and Priola and others introduced in mid-January.

As a pediatric pulmonologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado, I know all too well the impact that flavored tobacco, like menthol and watermelon wave, has had on the addiction of a new generation of smokers. 85% of young e-cigarette users use flavored products and over half a million middle and high school smokers use menthol cigarettes. Despite the common misconception that these products only contain flavors, they are incredibly harmful to the health of our children. The highly addictive nicotine impairs the development of parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood, and impulse control. Teens who use nicotine show lower cognitive function, shorter attention spans, and increased impulsivity, depression, and anxiety in adulthood. Research has shown that teens who start smoking using e-cigarettes or other flavored products are more likely to become cigarette smokers, leading to a lifelong addiction.

Legislation such as the bill introduced by Senators Fields and Priola and others is an essential step in addressing youth vaping and smoking in Colorado. It takes comprehensive policies like this to truly change deeply concerning trends and I support and applaud Senators Fields and Priola for their leadership.

Monica Federico, MD, via [email protected]

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