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Maryland must stop enabling Big Tobacco’s predatory treatment of children | READER COMMENTARY

A selection of Juul brand vaping supplies on display in the window of a vaping store in New York on March 24, 2018. (Richard B. Levine/Sipa USA/TNS).
A selection of Juul brand vaping supplies on display in the window of a vaping store in New York on March 24, 2018. (Richard B. Levine/Sipa USA/TNS). (Richard B. Levine/Sipa USA/TNS)

There is an innate conflict of interest between organizations that support health versus Big Tobacco and its purveyors, as pointed out recently (”Prioritize Maryland’s health: remove flavored tobacco products from the market,” Feb 10). When the end goal is profit and not health, there is often a costly outcome for society.

The Maryland Public Health Association, through our Health in All Policies approach (which considers health impacts in the policymaking process), enthusiastically supports small business development as part of healthy, thriving communities. We also support communities struggling from one bad deal after another, whether it’s greater density of cheap liquor outlets, fewer green spaces, or higher rates of and poorer outcomes from COVID-19. For decades, flavored tobacco products have negatively affected communities of color. These outcomes do not justify the profits.

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I am a public health scientist and a Black mother of three children. My husband and I are keenly aware of the massive amount of work it takes to protect our children from tobacco and vaping products. They are everywhere including across the street from our elementary school. The tobacco industry decided menthol was “culturally Black.” We must stop allowing and rewarding this predatory behavior. We must support those who truly need it, rather than those who aid in community degradation and wash their hands of the consequences. When will it stop?

Francine Baker, Columbia

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The writer is president of the Maryland Public Health Association.

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