Tobacco Harm Reduction Takes a Hit in Minnesota
We've all heard the heartbreaking news that over 480,000 Americans die from smoking related causes every year. We've also heard the projections that a BILLION people around the world will die from smoking this century. Heartbreaking to think of so many early deaths, so many families grieving for loved ones. So much money spent on the health effects of smoking.
Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) is a proven strategy in countries like the UK and Sweden, and if America had any brains at all, we would follow the lead of these countries and embrace THR ourselves. These products help smokers switch to a safer alternative, and don't pose a risk to people who are around smokers.
When it comes to THR, the United States has taken a more cautious approach. As a matter of fact, we've gotten way off track here in America. We forgot the war was on smoking, and have switched our focus to nicotine, which is a stimulant much like caffeine is. Because we've forgotten about the war on smoking and changed our strategy to a war on nicotine, we are going to see more needless deaths than we should be seeing.
Minnesota is a prime example. We have gone down the path of restricting adults access to THR products which are legal in MN. We are doing that one city and county at a time. From banning adults from being able to purchase a flavored THR product anywhere they can buy a cigarette, to banning some adults from purchasing any THR products, to restricting where some people can buy THR products, we're a mixed bag of regression and oppression here in Minnesota.
Just this week the city of Brooklyn Center passed an ordinance that restricts the purchase of some THR products to adult only stores, while leaving it legal to buy a pack of cigarettes at the corner gas station, the local grocery store, and the neighborhood pharmacy. It will now be easier in Brooklyn Center to purchase the cigarettes that can kill you, than it will be to buy things like vapor technology that can help people quit smoking and save lives.
Also this week Ottertail County, MN decided to circumvent the jurisdiction of cities to pass ordinances over THR products (THR is lumped in with tobacco in MN) and ban young adults from purchasing THR products by calling their new ordinance a "Public Health" ordinance instead of a "Tobacco" ordinance. The county has now decided to tell all cities in it's borders that young adults can not buy products that can help them quit smoking for reasons of "Public Health". What is healthy about that?
I'm not sure what the lawmakers in MN are thinking (or smoking?), or if there is something weird in our water, but it breaks my heart to see our leaders making it hard or illegal for adults to purchase the products that can help them switch from smoking to a safer alternative. Are we telling our citizens that even though we say they should quit smoking, secretly we hope they never will?