Letter: Stop smoking now to improve lung health | #parents | #teensvaping

Right now, local health departments are focused on preventing the spread of COVID-19. I appreciate the swift action that has been taken by Gov. Walz and the Minnesota Legislature to address this crisis with the urgency it deserves.

While Minnesotans stay home and do all we can to stay safe, let’s do all we can to promote good health. That starts with helping smokers quit and preventing children from starting.

Tobacco use damages the lung parenchyma, and growing evidence connects poor lung health to poor COVID-19 outcomes.

Even quitting smoking for a short time can improve lung health, and thankfully Minnesota has free programs to help all residents. I urge anyone who wants to quit to call 1-800-QUIT NOW or visit quitpartnermn.com for free resources – including a new program focused on Minnesota teens.

We also must help prevent kids from ever starting to use tobacco. American teenagers continue to face an e-cigarette epidemic. In 2019, more than a quarter of Minnesota high-school juniors and one in 10 8th-graders reported vaping. Adopting statewide Tobacco 21 and investing in youth tobacco prevention are critical steps to ensure health for my generation.

I’m proud to live in a state that continues to be a leader on public health. As our legislators return to the Capitol to pass bipartisan bills and continue to address COVID-19, I urge them to take bold action on tobacco prevention.

Lindsay Riordan, Medical student, Rochester

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