As the representative for the Second Congressional District, I'm always looking for common ground and common-sense solutions that transcend political divides. To date, I've co-sponsored more than 300 bills — most of them bipartisan — and taken on everyday issues like lowering the cost of health care, increasing opportunities for career and technical training and supporting our family farmers.
I was initially optimistic about finding common ground with this administration and President Donald Trump on banning most flavors of e-cigarettes. As the mother of four boys, I have seen firsthand how prevalent the use of vaping has become over the past several years in our nation's middle schools and high schools. It's an epidemic that parents and administrators are fighting on a daily basis as tobacco companies work to create the next generation of Americans addicted to nicotine.
That's why I was so disappointed when, without explanation, the administration backtracked on its commitment to the 5 million teenagers impacted by the youth vaping epidemic.
Flavored vaping substances are the most obvious ploy by big tobacco manufacturers to directly target our nation's youth. In schools across Minnesota and across the country, kids are smelling cotton candy from vaping pods and asking themselves, "it can't be that bad if it tastes like candy, right?"
Last month, I brought students, parents, teachers and administrators together at Shakopee High School to discuss this growing problem as they experience it every day. During this conversation, we came to understand that flavored vaping pods and discreet vaping products — both of which are marketed specifically to teens — are prevalent and driving this epidemic among our children.
A public health crisis of this scale won't be fixed with Band-Aid solutions. We need real, comprehensive reforms like the Reversing Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2019, a sweeping anti-tobacco bill that would raise the age of tobacco purchases to 21, ban the sale of flavored tobacco products, prohibit marketing to individuals under the age of 21 and ban all online sales of tobacco products.
This bill has the support of more than 50 public health organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association. This is just one of several bills I'm co-sponsoring to take on this epidemic and the companies responsible for causing it.
I urge the administration to put the health of our children over political divides and join our efforts to immediately curb big tobacco's effort to target our nation's youth. I challenge this Congress and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to please, for the sake of our children, join me in standing up to this industry and help stem the rise of the next generation of nicotine-addicted Americans.
Angie Craig represents Minnesota's Second Congressional District in the U.S. House.