CCAGW Urges Minnesota Senate Health and Human Services Committee to Oppose SF 2123 | Council For Citizens Against Government Waste

CCAGW Urges Minnesota Senate Health and Human Services Committee to Oppose SF 2123

State Action

February 28, 2023

Senate Health and Human Services Committee
Minnesota Senate
Minnesota Senate Building
St. Paul, MN 55155

Dear Senator,

On March 1, 2023, the Senate Health and Human Services Committee will hold a hearing on SF 2123.  On behalf of the 32,459 members and supporters of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) in Minnesota, I urge you to oppose this legislation, which would ban the sale of flavored nicotine or tobacco products, including electronic delivery devices.  This bill will reduce the use of tobacco harm reduction products (THR), increase the purchase of tobacco products on an unregulated black market, and fail to reduce smoking.

There is significant evidence that THR products have helped adults with smoking cessation and flavored products play a key role in that success.  More than 3 million U.S. adults used THR products to quit smoking from 2007 to 2015.  Unlike traditional cigarettes, which have significant links to cancer, when burned, and release more than 7,000 chemicals, including arsenic, lead, and tar, THR products carry less risk to smokers.  A Yale University study found that e-cigarette state bans result in a 1 percent increase in cigarette smoking between 12 and 17 years old.  Instead of enacting ineffective and harmful bans, state legislators should focus on enforcing the laws on the books, including ID verification, and holding retailers accountable when they break the law and sell illegal products to underage people.

Despite claims about a “youth vaping epidemic,” there has been a steady decline in youth smoking over the past decade, leading to historic lows.  There are 1.73 million fewer current youth tobacco product users in 2020 (4.47 million) compared to 2019 (6.20 million).  In 2021, two out of every 100 high school students (1.9 percent) reported having smoked cigarettes in the past 30 days.  Menthol bans do not have a net impact on youth smoking cessation, as youth menthol smokers simply transition to non-menthol cigarettes.

Making a product illegal will not only fail to reduce demand, but also put smokers at increased risk by opening the floodgates to an illicit black market.  If smokers can’t buy flavored products in a regulated market, many will find a way to purchase the products elsewhere, meaning in an unregulated, dangerous market.  Citizens Against Government Waste has long supported the use of THR products to help adult smokers quit and transition to less harmful products.  Our November 2021 issue brief, Tobacco Harm Reduction Products Should Be Widely Adopted, examines successful harm reduction strategies around the world.  Minnesota should be promoting, not inhibiting the use of these products.

Tom Schatz
President, CCAGW

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