Time is now to curb smoking

To the Editor: I write in support of New Hampshire raising the age to purchase tobacco products to 21 to make the Granite State safer and healthier for our youth. I’m the youth services director of a New Hampshire non-profit organization, Communities for Alcohol- and Drug Free Youth (CADY), and a certified prevention specialist.

We’ve seen a significant increase of vaping in central New Hampshire since 2017, and youth use continues to increase. Vaping is the highest incidence of any indicator, including alcohol, for our adolescents. In fact, the region is significantly higher than statewide averages for 30-day vaping and cigarette use.

Middle and high schoolers remain the prime target audience for vaping. Some youth, as young as 10, have tried vaping, experienced nicotine overdose, and/or are becoming addicted. Addiction to nicotine, when brain development is at its most critical, can have serious lasting effects.

More recently, we’re seeing our youth struggle with nicotine addiction and many schools are desperate for cessation programs. However, young kids are still asking high school seniors and university students to purchase nicotine products for them. And, unfortunately, if kids do not have the means to purchase a device of their own, they will take “hits” off each other’s vape pens (a health risk amid COVID-19 safety issues).

Educators, parents, and community members are genuinely concerned about youth access to vape devices: this trend is not going away. For these reasons, I sincerely hope that the age to purchasing tobacco products is raised to 21.

ELIZABETH BROCHU

Plymouth