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Letter to the Editor: Stop flavored tobacco and protect youth

To the editor:

The CALI Wasco Youth Coalition has been advocating for a safer tobacco-free community for the past five years. Our coalition is part of the non-California Health Collaborative, Unidos Por Salud Project- a regional tobacco prevention program serving youth, young adults and the Latinx community in seven counties.

Our current coalition is joined by Wasco and Lost Hills high school youth who have hosted youth events, engaged in outreach during school resource fairs, and educated local and state elected officials on the importance of protecting youth from flavored tobacco products.

With the passing of Prop 31, the flavored tobacco law, youth in California will be protected from Big Tobacco's flavored products, but there is always opportunity for our local elected officials to further protect Wasco youth.

The 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey found that more than 3 million middle and high school students currently used any tobacco product. E-cigarettes were the most commonly used product, with more than 1 in 4 students using an e-cigarette daily, and 85% reported using flavors.

Hopefully, with the passing of Prop 31, these numbers will go down in 2023 because the law prohibits the sale of flavored tobacco products and flavor enhancers, meaning youth will no longer be exposed to these products at our local convenience stores.

In June 2022, we visited 23 tobacco retailers in Wasco and found that 21 of them sold flavored tobacco products. We even found out that Walmart had stopped selling all tobacco products and were able to share this data with our local decision-makers.

Our local leaders, though, can further protect Wasco youth by prohibiting tobacco sales near our schools and other areas we hang out at, like parks. Our youth coalition encourages our peers, elected officials, teachers, and parents to stay informed about the negative health impacts of tobacco use and continue to advocate for tobacco-free communities.

To stay connected with Unidos Por Salud's tobacco prevention efforts, visit our Instagram @unidosporsalud.

Wasco CALI Youth Coalition


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