To the editor of THE EAGLE:
We are writing to congratulate the Adams Board of Health for passing comprehensive regulations restricting the sale of tobacco products and nicotine delivery products to protect young people in their community. In light of the Surgeon General’s Report on Tobacco released in January, the new regulations are more critical than ever.
The report confirms that the tobacco products that young people are trying out are more dangerous than ever before. In addition, two more recently released studies warn that today’s cigarettes are highly engineered products that increase addiction and are more dangerous than previously. The 32nd Surgeon General’s Report, "The Health Consequences of Smoking -- 50 years of Progress," shows that even though today’s smokers smoke fewer cigarettes than those 50 years ago, they are at a higher risk of developing lung cancer due to increased levels of nicotine and chemicals inhaled while smoking. The report reveals that low-tar cigarettes do not reduce the risk of lung cancer, contrary to previous claims, and are, in fact, more lethal than ever before.
What does that mean for our youth who are able to access tobacco products? It means they will be even more addicted to nicotine than the last generation. This is great news for the tobacco industry and terrible news for our kids. To make matters worse, the report states that if current rates continue, 5.6 million Americans younger than 18 years of age who are alive today are projected to die prematurely from smoking-related disease. When are we all going to finally say to the tobacco industry, "enough is enough"?
The good news locally is that many boards of health in the Berkshires, including Pittsfield, North Adams, Great Barrington, Lee, Lenox and Stockbridge, have passed comprehensive tobacco regulations to fight back against these tobacco industry tactics. The leaders of Berkshire County’s boards of health are taking bold and principled stands to protect youth.
The enhanced tobacco regulations take important steps to keep a young person’s first cigarette, cigar or e-cigarette from being the most deadly decision they ever make.
Jim Wilusz is Health Director for the Tri-Town Health Department. Joan Rubel is Director of Public Health Initiatives for the Berkshire AHEC/Tobacco-Free Community Partnership.