Chesapeake man meets with members of Congress about protecting kids from candy-flavored tobacco

CHESAPEAKE, Va. – A 20-year-old Chesapeake man is looking to make a difference, and his attempt to do so brought him to meet with members of Congress, including Virginia’s own Bobby Scott, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner.

Joshua Pritchett met with the state’s Senators and one of its Representatives in July at a workshop for Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

The workshop and meeting was to discuss the need for strong regulations from the Food and Drug Administration of all tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes and cigars that are sold in a huge assortment of sweet flavors, which are popular with youth.

“Youth advocates like Joshua are taking action to stop the tobacco industry from addicting kids with candy-flavored products,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “With their passion and leadership in protecting their peers, we can make the next generation tobacco-free.”

Pritchett and those of Tobacco-Free Kids also spoke with congressional members specifically about the Juul e-cigarette, which sleek and high tech design is something that has attracted the use of kids by using some of the sweet flavor tobacco they are fighting against. News 3 also featured the impact of e-cigarettes, like the Juul, on local teens. 

Tobacco-Free Kids is a non-profit organization focused on reducing tobacco use in the United States and around the world. 17 youth advocates from 16 states participated in this year’s event.

The organization said that in Virginia, 6.5 percent of high school students smoke traditional cigarettes, 11.8 percent use e-cigarettes and 8.8 percent of high school boys smoke cigars. Tobacco use claims 10,300 lives in Virginia each year.

81 percent of kids who have ever used tobacco started with a flavored product. Youth use of nicotine in any form is unsafe, can cause addiction and can harm the developing adolescent brain, according to a 2016 Surgeon General’s report.

Tobacco is the number one cause of preventable death in the U.S., killing nearly half a million people each year and costing about $170 billion in health care bills, said Tobacco-Free Kids.

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