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Thao honored for keeping kids from smoking

Posted on 06 February 2017 by Calvin

Ward 1 Council Member recognized for leadership at 2017 Tobacco Control Conference

ThaoMinnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation (MSFG), a coalition of 50 organizations working to prevent youth smoking in our state, honored St. Paul Council Member Dai Thao (photo right) with the Inspiring Bold Action award at the 2017 Minnesota Tobacco Control Conference. The award recognizes bold efforts to protect future generations by restricting the sale of flavored tobacco products.

Alicia Leizinger, Policy and Program Specialist at Association of Nonsmokers-Minnesota, presented Thao with the award. “During his time in office, Council Member Thao has championed two major ordinances to protect the health of young people and promote health equity—an ordinance to set a minimum price for cigars and an ordinance to restrict the sale of flavored tobacco. He has shown great dedication to reducing the influence of the tobacco industry and creating a healthy community for all its residents.”

Award were former Shoreview City Council Member Wickstrom, Minneapolis Ward 2 City Council Member Cam Gordon, and Ward 5 Minneapolis City Council Member Blong Yang.

MSFG believes the tobacco industry uses menthol and candy-flavored tobacco products to attract the next generation of smokers. These products mask the harsh taste of tobacco and have packaging that is hard to distinguish from candy or gum. Young people also believe that flavored products are less dangerous or addictive, but they are just as deadly as other tobacco products. Because of these factors, an increasing number of young people are using menthol, candy and fruit-flavored products:
• 42% of students who smoke use flavored products.
• Menthol cigarette use by Minnesota high school smokers increased from 20% to 44% from 2000 to 2014.
• More than 35% of Minnesota students have tried flavored cigars.

Each year in Minnesota, tobacco use is responsible for more than 5,100 deaths and almost $3 billion in preventable health care costs—and 90 percent of adult smokers started before the age of 18.

Other recipients of a 2017 Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation is a coalition of Minnesota organizations that share a common goal of saving Minnesota youth from a lifetime of addiction to tobacco. In addition to limiting access to candy-, fruit- and menthol-flavored tobacco, the coalition supports raising the tobacco sale age to 21, keeping tobacco prices high and funding future tobacco control programs. Find out more at www.smokefreegenmn.org.